Walking in faith with my children has been one of the most challenging areas for me to walk freely in. Calling myself a mother hen or mother goose just doesn’t feel aggressive enough about how protective I am over my children. So I actually looked it up and found out the vulture is an impeccable mother, rising above all else. So, there it is. I am a mother vulture.
Parenting my two oldest children, my biological daughters, has been largely, well, a cake walk. Although it was still a challenge to release them into God’s hands, it was not preceded by strife and dissension. The story of my son Tadi (pronounced Teddy) however is an entirely different one. A little of his background to set the stage: he is adopted from Ethiopia and came home when he was 3 years old after having been *released* at 2 ½ years old (ie, abandoned) from his remaining biological family (which of course implies he went through the deaths of some of his biological family) and sent to an orphanage to be picked up by a white woman telling him “I’m your mom”. Lovely. Nothing like a little trauma to start life off on the right foot. As a result, Tadi’s problems and behaviors have summarily been classified as “oppositional defiant” which basically means he doesn’t acknowledge authority figures and lives in perpetual state of defiance toward those who attempt to put boundaries around him. He is a street kid, already having developed significant survival skills by the time we brought him home. His behaviors have went well beyond childhood lying to orchestrated manipulation, beyond serving common selfish elementary desires to outright stealing, beyond childish “I hate you” retorts to literally running away from home. Did I mention he is only 8 now?
I don’t tell you these things to rail on Tadi for his behaviors. This is a story of the glory of God. After 5 years of battling with Tadi trying to correct him, maneuver him, get him on the right track, get him to care about family, school, homework, work ethic, morals, etc., it became very apparent that the foundation of the problem is the scars from the blows he already received in his young life and I had no ability to heal them, or manipulate them. Behavior management with rewards and punishments has had nominal impact on his daily function. Even walking in love and compassion with him was divisive as he had a very distorted understanding of what love is. It was becoming more and more clear that God was the only one who was going to carry Tadi through this trial and restore him to wholeness. How was that going to happen? I had to get out of the way.
Get out of the way. Mother vulture, get out of the way. Mother vulture, who watches everyday as her son’s trajectory points criminal, get out of the way. Mother vulture, stop trying to correct him, steer him, drive him, maneuver him, heal him, protect him. Mother vulture, put him in God’s hands, get out of the way.
Now, I had prayed for Tadi faithfully for 5 years. But I would get off my knees, turn around, and begin again trying to drive him into being “good”. I was protecting him afterall; it was my job to make him good and righteous and, well, hopefully just not a thief if nothing else. But all I was really doing was standing between him and God. The day finally came when God convicted me. It was only through shear defeat and exhaustion and no other way to “fix” him. I was dangerously close to disrupting the adoption. But I got on my knees one last time and released him to God. Verbally, out loud. It was like extracting a pick ax from my throat. I was trusting the protection of my son to God; I was giving up control. Mother vulture, I release my son. Then I changed everything. I stopped fighting with him about homework. I stopped fighting with him about lying and stealing and cheating and poor work ethic and avoiding the family. I made one requirement of him, that he read his bible every day for his nightly school reading. And he did it. Faithfully, every day. And I went on a prayer war path for him (see Power of a Praying Parent by Stormie Omartian). And the glory of God swooped in like a dove and stole Tadi’s heart. This past Sunday, Nov 3 2013, Tadi responded to the altar call at our church and made a public commitment to give his life to Christ. And then he cried. He cried that big fat snotty gushing cry. His chest heaved like he was expelling a death sentence from it. And then he soared. He soared free and happy like I’ve never seen him before. He smiled and beamed and radiated love and happiness the whole afternoon. Praise be to God.
I know we still have a bumpy road ahead and that all things are not perfect. But now we have God in the house, in the heart. His transforming power has begun and once a work in His name is begun, it will be finished.