God was interested in unconditional love when he created man. To get that he gave us something special… freedom, or what we refer to as free will. It’s the power to choose. This turned out to be a very painful journey for God and for us too… but necessary to have the purest and truest of love, and one that endures.
I wanted to share with you today a story about my older daughter Rachael and one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever made as a parent… a story of The Beauty Of True Freedom.
Rachael is headstrong. She’s always been that way. Her mom and I separated and divorced as Rachael hit the teenage years. This left me in a heartbreaking situation of not seeing my daughters every day, and in having little parental authority over Rachael and her sister.
When Rachael hit the teenage years things began to happen… she demanded her freedom.
A little freedom? No biggie granting this to a growing teenager. We want them to spread their wings a little and grow, right? “Rachael wanted freedom, but no responsibility” … Grammy Ann’s words, not mine (like how I avoided that one! :)) Â And that seems to be where we go astray sometimes… thinking that Freedom comes without responsibility.
My experiences with Rachael included…
International calls/voicemails from a friend at home in the States fielded during a work trip…
“Chris, I stopped by to check on your place and didn’t enter the house but think there must have been someone inside… the sound of moving around… noticed the computer was on in the living room…”
“Chris, I stopped back by and by golly all the pool furniture and gas grill were in the swimming pool!”
“Chris, good news and bad… everything’s out of the pool now but your bicycle is gone…”
and on other occasions unexpected signs of life at my place…
parties, parties and more parties…
lunchtime visitors (the local high school was just 3 blocks from my front door)…
(did I mention there were some parties at the house while I was gone?)…
I’m leaving out considerable detail here but hoping that you’ll get the picture…
This all became beyond unacceptable when my younger daughter Allie decided that she wanted to live with me. After numerous convo’s with Rach about the events… something else had to happen… I simply could not allow this to take place any more, especially with the possibility of unexpected visitors on any occasion when Allie was at home by herself.
I told Rachael that I loved her but that she was not allowed to come over any more. I took away her key, changed the locks and barricaded the back door for good measure… and laid everything in God’s hands.
I had tried everything else and nothing seemed to help…
I did what every parent hopes they will never in their life have to do… I had to stand by my principles and follow the advice of a pastor as well as a counselor, and stand firm by the rules with the faith that Rachael would grow to love and respect me for it.
I reassured her that I loved her and let her walk out of my life to the “freedom” that she desired.
All I can say is Ouch!!
One of the most difficult actions I have ever faced is shutting the door on my own child… not something you would ever want to experience as a parent.
We didn’t speak for months. I would call and leave her voicemails at least once a week. It was really a couple of years later that we came to a peace agreement… she started to come back around when little Nolan was on the way… as she realized that I really did love her… what love, respect and freedom was really all about… she must have realized that I trusted her again when she was the only person other than me with a key to my home. Now we can laugh and talk about it openly.
I had to choose my principles and believe in faith that God would watch over Rachael, take care of her, and that my choice was being made for the bigger picture… that she would grow to respect me and the choices that I had to make as her father…
Rachael wanted freedom that she thought would bring happiness, and she may have even found that in the short-term… but happiness is just a temporary fix we can find here on earth… and a temporary fix is of little value in comparison to the enduring love that comes with free will… and true freedom. You see, because of our past… our sins… and our poor choices we can never know true freedom without God’s grace… and committing by faith to a relationship with Him. We may think we can find it… but it eludes us… and will until the very end… unless our choice is to live our life for Him and the freedom that He provides.
Rachael found true freedom through the love and respect that she developed with her earthly father… and for that we owe all the credit to our Heavenly Father.
I Love You Rachael 🙂
What a sweet post, Chris. Tough love is tough. This is a wonderful and powerful message you’ve shared.
It points straight to God that He, too, has to show us tough love, even though it breaks His heart.
I’ll be thinking of this post all day. Thanks for the fuel.
Great description Carol, tough love is tough… and what we need! Thank you!!
Chris that story you told is one I am quite familiar with. I went through a similar situation when my kids were teenagers. Although they never disrespected our home or property- they made decisions that were not beneficial to our relationship. I had to love them in spite of those decisions and pray the Lord would protect and lead them home. You know the feeling of your heart being ripped from your chest and kicked, but somehow we found strength to keep loving, keep believing that they would come to their senses. I think that is how the Lord loves us, bringing little reminders of his love and provision until we come to our senses and come home.
Great post- Blessings
Thank you Terrie… I think the love we share with our children is the closest we can imagine to the true unconditional love that God has for us.
Excellent post, Chris. ^_^ Brought back a lot of memories of when I tortured my parents with my desire for freedom without responsibilities.
I promise as soon as you share your teenager story Nona that I’ll share mine too !!
Chris, thanks for sharing your story with us. I’m glad the ending is happy; I know it had to be heartbreaking to go through all that.
Chris, tough, sweet, hard, beautiful post! Parenting has taught me more about God, the Father, in deeper more intimate ways than I would have ever dreamed possible. What grace to know that our children are really His, that He loves them more than we will ever be able to, that He chose us — on purpose — to raise these kids for His great glory, purposes beyond our understanding. Parenting is an awesome, humbling, amazing journey!
Congratulations on having the strength of character to give your daughter what she needed. Tough love can be just tough on the giver as the recpient. (Believe me, I speak from experience.) As a couselor once told me, “There comes a time when your teenager has more control over you than you have over them.” I find it interesting that in the time of Christ there was no such itermediate period. A person was a child until they were declared an adult. Period. It was sort of like that in colonial times as well. Society has changed…and I’m not sure it’s for the better.
Thank you E G, enjoyed your quote!
Yes, it is important to remember that freedom includes responsibility. As a child as well as an adult we have to remember that everything has consequences. I know it was hard to close the door to your daughter with the lack of a key, but it also stopped you from being a co-dependent in her bad actions.
Good point Chris, Thank you!!
Wow, that sounds pretty tough. Praise God that you are your daughter now have a good relationship. Family is never easy, but God seems to pulls us through times that seem impossible when we’re going through them. Your story does remind me of the way God gives us the freedom to choose a life without him, even though he knows it will not be good for us.
Freedom and responsibility – a good combination.
Thank you Adam, I really appreciate your comments here!!
Great post…all I can add is that showing tough love with our kids is absolutely gutwrenching at times. I can’t even begin to imagine what God goes through watching us struggle to be “independent”.
Thank you Michael for stopping by and sharing here 🙂
Chris, I’m sorry I’m late this month commenting. Parenting so difficult at times, well, more times than not, especially when the kids get older. This was a wonderfully touching post. I’m so glad you and your daughter now have a special relationship. Blessings to you!
I always appreciate you stopping by here Lynn, thanks for your comments!
Hey! Sorry I didn’t get to commenting in a more timely fashion… the busyness of summer, you know! blessings to you
No Problemo, thanks for stopping by and Happy Summer to you Tracy!!