I hope you are having a good summer. I always enjoy the 4th of July holiday. I anticipate good food, good fellowship, and of course, some fireworks!
Before I continue, I’d like to pause and thank those who have served and fought for our country’s freedom. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you! Thank you to those who are serving now and have served in the past. I am certainly guilty of taking this freedom for granted many times, which is why I’m thankful for holidays and special times as these, when we honor those who have served.
The topic of freedom was discussed in our last Rivertree team meeting. Specifically, we discussed what freedom looked like in regards to finances. We could have gone many directions here: budgeting, freedom from debt, retirement nest egg, etc. But our discussion quickly went into a different direction.
Many of us have children, grandchildren, or children that we may not be related to but consider our own. What a blessing children can be! And oh, what a challenge they can be…
Children need us. It feels good to be needed. And sometimes, it feels good to just be alone. Both are good and healthy.
But something happens to all children. It’s unavoidable. They grow up! Yes, I’m stating the obvious here, but humor me and keep reading.
Children grow physically. They grow emotionally. Hopefully for many of us, they grow spiritually.
But here’s my question: Are they growing into adults? I’m not talking about age of adulthood per your State’s law (FYI it’s age 21 for Mississippi, not 18).
What am I talking about in regards to adults? A responsible, contributor to society and at the core, a desire to be an adult.
But what happens? It doesn’t always go this way. Children rebel. They leave home before they’re ready. They denounce the wisdom they’ve learned through their early years. They hurt the ones who love them the most.
It’s devastating. What went wrong? Is it our fault as parents? I’d argue for most of us the answer is, “No.” It’s not your fault.
The Counterintuitive Freedom
Thankfully, we find the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15 of the Bible. The younger son requested an early inheritance (which is seldom a blessing to a child I might add). The son lived recklessly, wasted his money, and found himself feeding pigs (and even desiring the pigs’ food!).
At this point, we learn that the son “came to his senses.” He finally reached his point of true brokenness and need.
So, where’s the counterintuitive freedom I keep referencing? It’s this – Allowing our children to reach the place of brokenness rather than rescuing them. We “rescue” by giving them money. We rescue by bailing them out (including from jail). We rescue by not allowing them to truly experience the natural consequences of poor decisions and behavior.
“But what about mercy and grace, Scott?” I hear ya. I treasure mercy and grace. I’ve received it time and time again, from humans and The Lord Almighty.
When they’re children, we often do extend mercy and grace. We may discipline using other consequences so they don’t have to experience the natural consequence (and tragedy) of crossing the road before looking or playing with (or in) the fire.
But our topic today is adults, not children. For adults, it’s time that they experience natural consequences. It’s what the father did for his prodigal son. He allowed him to squander his wealth and live with pigs. Don’t you think this father had the ability to find his son and go rescue him? We don’t find this answer explicit in Scripture, but I think we can infer that the father did have this ability. But in his wisdom, he waited.
As a father, I sure wish Scripture gave us more information about what the father did and what he felt while he waited. How long did it take? Was he angry with his son, and even God? Did he grieve or weep? Did he lose faith? We just don’t know.
Know this: There is counterintuitive freedom in allowing our adult children to experience the natural consequences of their decisions and behaviors, even if we have the means and abilities to “help.”
Love your adult children. Pray for them. Share the burden with God, and others. Give them the space to come to their senses.
Don’t lose hope. And when you feel like you have, God is big enough to listen and meet you where you are.
(Recommendation: I’m 70 pages into the book “Reaching Your Prodigal” by Phil Waldrep. Although I have more to read, I feel confident in saying that the author gets it. It’s answering the questions: What did I do wrong, and what can I do now?)
*For financial planning clients of Rivertree Financial Planning: Please contact us as soon as possible if you have had any changes in circumstances, objectives, goals or risk tolerance.