“To Him who is able to do immeasurable more than we can ask or imagine according to His power that is at work within us.” Ephesians 3:20
This verse has been my mainstay in recent weeks. I’m praying it, declaring it, believing it.
I wish I believed in the power of God earlier in parenting. Though God was the center of my faith as a young parent, I rarely appealed to His power and transformation in my life or that of my family.
Until I was desperate and there was no other way.
The middle school years with one of my kids weren’t good. In fact, they were really, really bad. Since we’re past them, sometimes I forget the pain and the mistakes I made until I still see the remnants of the damage. Then, I lean more into the hope of God’s power.
When our temperaments collided, I made sure I had the last word. In middle school, discipline isn’t as easy as a spanking or a time out. Words and emotions flew, both ways, and I continued to fight for my right to have the last word, putting my child in their place. Conflict ruled our house. Hurtful and critical words caused pain and scars for my middle schooler.
I cried out to God daily, asking Him for help, for Him to change the fighting that didn’t seem to end. I didn’t see any hope. Each day I tried and I failed. Believing God could do immeasurable more than I could ask or imagine wasn’t in my resource-bank.
I just knew He needed to do something.
It wasn’t until I was completely broken I realized I could only change my behavior and responses. Little by little I let Him take over me, and slowly He did immeasurably more than I asked or imagined.
Actions have consequences, even when behavior changes and restoration takes place. It’s taken a while to step away from the pain of those years. The difference is being on the other side of darkness. We know God really does immeasurably more than we could ask or imagine. He heals pain and fills in the gaps of parental failure. He does all of this for His honor and glory.
Parenting middle school kids can be hard. There’s no getting around it. It’s hard to know whether behavior is normal or if a child’s responses or rebellion is a broader character issue. I’ve parented three more middle schoolers since our first one. I’ve learned what not to do the hard way. By God’s grace, He’s used that help other parents and kids personally and professionally as I counsel and minister to children and families. I share the resources I didn’t have the first time around.
But even though I failed, God didn’t.
If you’re struggling with your middle schooler, be encouraged that God isn’t separate from your frustration, failures or pain. He cares about your relationship with your middle schooler and can equip you more than you could ask or imagine. Claim this promise, yield your rights to His will, and He will redeem your failures. Will you believe that?
“I’ll repay for you the years the locusts have eaten” Joel 2:25
How can we pray for and encourage you in your parent struggles? What do you struggle with the most?