“Teach them well and let them lead the way.” – Whitney Houston
Parenting is hard.
Watching your children make mistakes is excruciating at times. You wonder if you hurt more than they actually do.
The emotions as a parent can be extreme and more powerful than anyone without children can even imagine. As parents our chests swell with pride at every milestone and achievement. That’s my boy! That’s my girl! The high is almost intoxicating at times, and there aren’t many feelings comparable to that parental pride.
But, as parents we’re also frequently left wondering what we did or didn’t do when our children make poor decisions and the consequences that come with those decisions. Where did we fail? Why did this happen? What could we have done differently to prevent it? Questions that can drive one mad with regret.
Last night a thunderstorm blew through here bringing with it golf ball sized hail that exploded on our roof, the side of our house, and on our porches. It hit our windows. It was loud and slightly unnerving.
As I lie awake at 1 am after the hail had subsided but still listening to the rain fall, it wasn’t lost on me that storms blow through our lives all the time, both literally and figuratively. Sometimes we watch in awe and wonder. Other times we cower and hide and pray for it to end. Storms can pass through quickly while at other times they seem to linger forever. Either way we usually make it through. The sun comes out and we keep on living. We press forward. It’s all we can and know how to do.
The older our children get the more important their decisions become. The challenges parents face becomes more and more difficult. The thunderstorms become bigger and scarier. The processing of emotions and the inner turmoil that can be caused by a child’s mistake can be frustrating at best. With each mistake a new reality sets in. A new future begins.
“Show them all the beauty they possess inside. Give them a sense of pride to make it easier.”
As parents we’re tasked with trying to help our children make the best decisions possible with the experiences and wisdom that we’ve gained in life. It’s all we can really do. We can’t make decisions for them. We can’t force them to do the right thing. We shower them with love and protection and a sense of self-worth, but when they make mistakes we have to let them know that we’re disappointed for them (not in them), and what this means for their life now and in the future.
I assume God went through many of these same emotions in reading Old Testament scripture as his children, the Israelites, wandered the desert for 40 years constantly disobeying God and making poor choices. Joy and pride followed by embarrassment, disappointment, and punishment.
There was never any promise of things being easy though.
“Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33 (NLT)
I don’t know how people without faith make it. I don’t know how parents with children remain sane without it.
“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” – Proverbs 22:6
These two verses offer hope and encouragement for me and for many others, and that has to be enough in times of confusion and pain and sorrow.
“If I fail, if I succeed, at least I’ll live as I believe.”
I love the lyrics to today’s featured song written by the late writers Michael Masser and Linda Creed. George Benson made this a hit on the R&B charts in 1977, but Whitney Houston did what Whitney Houston did to songs. She took this song in 1986, and “Whitney-ized” it. She made it bigger, bolder, more powerful. Sorry George, but I think you would agree with me.
The lyrics (written during Creed’s battle with breast cancer in 1976-77) tell the story of coping with life’s great challenges and persevering, and eventually passing that strength on to your children.
“I never found anyone who fulfill my needs. A lonely place to be so I learned to depend on me.”
Today’s video is both haunting and beautiful to me. Whitney Houston in her prime in 1987 showed us why she is one of the great talents of all-time. Though I’m thankful for her voice and the music she produced, it makes me a little sad to listen to her. By now we all know Whitney’s struggles and tragic end to her life at the age of 48 in 2012. We also know that ironically, the tragedy also carried over to her daughter Bobbi Kristina just three years later when she passed at the age of 22.
“And if by chance, that special place that you’ve been dreaming of leads you to a lonely place. Find your strength in love.”
Parenting is not easy at any socio or economic status and doesn’t discriminate because of race or sexual orientation. We make poor decisions. Our children make poor decisions. We all live with the consequences. Like I said at the beginning, parenting is hard. Life is hard.
The story of Whitney and her daughter is a sad tale, because in the end love alone didn’t win for Whitney or her daughter. It’s cautionary everyday stories like this that scare us as parents. Are we enough for our children? Is love enough? It has to be right? There’s nothing else. 1 John 4:8 says “whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” God is love. I choose God and I choose love and I choose to carry on.
“Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.”
Another choice I made was to choose a live performance video of this song which Whitney sang at the 1987 Grammy’s. To me, it just enforces the greatness of Whitney when you see her absolute nail this song live. There are not many voices that can give me absolute chills, but hers is a rare exception. Beauty, grace, and some of the most powerful vocal chords to ever grace this Earth…
Thanks for reading and hang in there all you parents. Keep loving and keep living.