The other Sunday we were babysitting out in the country at the kids’ house. Sixteen month old Murphy was slinging around the mashed bananas and smashed avocado. Any attempt to help steer the spoon toward his messy mouth were rebuffed with, “ump, wug, aak, merg,” basically, “Leave me alone, I can do it myself.”
It doesn’t get a lot better as they grow older declaring their independence. Pretty soon they’re grown and gone, and we find ourselves truly hoping for their independence. A number of parents have found it a little tough sledding as they have unsuccessfully tried to launch the young adult so that they might enjoy the silence of the empty nest and turn off the spigot to the family bank account. Recently a national survey said that over 50% of all families were financially helping their adult children in some way.
We love our children. We don’t want to see them struggle or do without, maybe like some of us experienced earlier and vowed we’d never let our offspring experience the same thing. It’s a thin line between helping our kids survive a rough spot and letting them come to depend on Mom and Dad, even as we slip into retirement and the days of reduced income. We may plan to eventually leave them all our worldly goods; we just didn’t plan on starting the process now.
Our human struggle for independence reminds me of so many of us as we journey through this human life. Far too many of us are saying, “Leave me alone; I can do it myself.” You just look around and wanna ask, “How’s that working out for you?” In general, we’re a pretty hard headed bunch. We’ve heard that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing expecting different results. The Bible tells us about mankind’s reasoning when it says there’s a way that seems right to us, but the end thereof is death.
Just as us parents and grandparents have lived through some tough times and tried to share the wisdom we’ve gained with our younger offspring, we find our efforts are not necessarily received with appreciation or maybe ignored completely. Seems like they are bound to find out the hard way for themselves.
Our Heavenly Father probably has some of the same frustrations in dealing with us. We know He’s an even better father than we are, but we still ignore Him and are determined to do it ourselves. The Holy Spirit stands ready to help guide us in our daily living and decision making, but somehow we suffer amnesia or dementia as we forget we have access to the best 911 call anyone could make. If God had hair, I’m sure He’s pulled it out by now putting up with our poor decision making. The next time we find ourselves in a mess of our own making, just remember, it didn’t have to be. We might want to think twice before we blurt out, “I can do it myself.”
By Dr. Juan Harrison