One of my favorite family pics of almost all of us a few years ago!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Heather's Journal #69. "I got a pocket full of sunshine" No Date 2008. Today, I'm posting the same thing I posted on my Mother/Daughter blog at Today is the anniversary of Heather's death and the irony of this entry falling on this day is not lost on me.

Today, January 16, 2013, marks the second anniversary of Heather's death.  I had no way of knowing that these words, written by her in 2008 and by me in 2011, would be the blog post for her anniversary.  Re-reading them clarifies for me once again that this is truth.  The day Heather got in the car and drove to Texas when we specifically told her not to and when her friends advised against it, she suffered the ultimate natural consequence of rebellion.  And by that I simply mean that if she had not been in that car, on that rainy road so far from home, she wouldn't have died that way, at that time.  Of course, if it was her time, it doesn't really matter where she was.  But it certainly didn't seem like it was her time to go meet Jesus.

Anyway, I don't think she did it to rebel.  I think she did it because she had no way to reconcile her feelings and she honestly believed that driving to Texas to confront her love would somehow give her the peace that she had been seeking almost her entire life.  I don't blame her.  In fact, in the two years since her death I believe I have come to know her and understand her far better than I did while she was living.  

I don't want other parents and teens to wait until tragedy or trauma occurs to figure each other out.  That's why I post these blogs - hoping that the emotions and experiences of a mother and daughter can speak to others and help them better understand each other. 

“I got a pocket full of sunshine.”
No Date, 2008

Just tryin to get through today in 1 piece.  I’ve been struggling a lot lately w/ alota different things.  Something I choose not2 print on paper is completely out of my life now. 

Mom explained to me that rebellion is different than sin.  It’s sin, but it’s a different type. I laid it all down2 Jesus Sun. night @ Core, felt good 2 finally let go.  Then I prayed for like 45 min. & I finally felt peace w/ God on that area of my life.  No more… feels so good2 say.

I’ve had countless conversations w/ Mom talking about what we can do2 change me.  Mom would always say it’s natural4 me2 sin but when I got in  trouble, she’d say  she just couldn’t believe I would do something like that.  So I was always left feeling confused.  Did mom secretly give me credit & was she yelling @ me just bc that’s a parent’s job?  Nope… I’ve totally  misunderstood 4 so many yrs now.  But now that I do… I’m really gonna try & do better.  I wanna grow up & look back & feel proud, not disappointed.

I will strive to be better.
In Christ,
Heather Lee

Dear Heather,

I tried to explain the difference between sin and rebellion, but let me give another crack at the full explanation. Remember, this is my personal explanation of the difference as I see it. I’m not sure that I’m theologically correct, but in my mind these words have different meanings and help explain the difference between doing things that are wrong and consistently and knowingly doing what is wrong when we really know better.  Writing it is easier than saying it.  And you can also read it more than once until you understand.  It’s long, so bear with me. 

You asked an interesting question – “Did mom secretly give me credit & was she yelling @ me just bc that’s a parent’s job?”

This is a complicated issue to explain because it has so many layers.  But I will try to explain – at least as simply as I understand. 

First, everyone of us is directly accountable to God.  He is always first in your life.  In theory, that means he’s more important your parents.  And if God is directly telling you to do something different than what your parents say or do – choose God’s instruction. 

But because of the way God structured our world – that shouldn’t happen very often.  (That means you don’t need to get any bright ideas of using this as an excuse for disobedience!)  I can imagine a situation in which parents are abusing their authority and causing harm to their children, or where they are neglecting their duties.  In that case, it would be wise to seek help or refuge from another adult.

However, the idea that you are answerable directly to God from birth isn’t quite the way it is in practice.  Because God designed us to mature over time.  We aren’t born knowing and understanding everything.  We have to learn most of what we know.  There is no magic age for being fully physically and intellectually mature. And there is certainly no set age for reaching spiritual maturity.  Everyone matures at a different rate.

The physical changes are slightly more predictable.  For instance, a baby isn’t born walking.  But somewhere between 9 and 18 months, most every child who is not delayed or disabled will walk.   Speech fully develops somewhere between 15 months and 3 years.  Girls will begin to physically mature somewhere between 9 and 16. 

Intellectual maturity varies more because it often depends on the physical and emotional environment.  A child who is starving and malnourished, may not learn as fast as someone with a healthy diet. Parents who are spending every waking minute finding food for the family may not invest hours a day in the child’s learning environment.  Anyway, we all learn at different rates – although again, some things are fairly predictable.

I say all this because it matters in the way God set up our world.  God gives us parents to help guide us through life until we are ready to survive physically and make decisions on our own.  He gives us parents and instructs them to take care of their children and treat them as a blessing from Him.  He gives parents responsibilities – and one of the most important responsibilities is to “raise our children up in the love and admonition of the Lord.”  He also tells us to discipline our children in order to teach them - the same way God teaches us. 

In other words, parents are supposed to be the physical, earthly representation of your relationship with God.  When you are ready, your parents will move to the background and you will be directly accountable to God.  It often happens a little at a time.  With your parents turning over to you whatever you are ready to handle. 

Okay.  So – as best I understand it -  that’s how God planned it.  He could have made humans like some animals that leave their parents soon after birth and have to make it on their own from the beginning.  But he didn’t.  He made parents to be in relationship with their children.

Now lets jump over to the idea of sin and rebellion. Then I can answer your question and see if I can unconfuse you on paper when I answer your question.

Sin is sin.  It is simply anything we do that is against what God has told us.  Rebellion is one kind of sin.  But to me, rebellion suggests that we are intentionally and defiantly disobeying God or our parents or whoever. In other words, it isn't because we didn't know better or haven't matured enough to understand, it is because we CHOOSE to go rebel.  

We have already talked about the fact that since the fall of man when Adam and Eve stole the apple from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, man was destined to sin.  As much as we might not want to sin, somehow, we can’t or don’t do it on our own.  God knew that we could never follow all the rules perfectly enough to get to Heaven like He originally planned.  And he wants us with Him. 

So He sent his Son Jesus to die on the cross to account for all our sins.  Jesus’ death means that we are no longer living under the law, but under grace.  We will still sin, but once we ask God for forgiveness and accept that Jesus is our Savior, we become Christians and we begin a new life in Christ.  All of our sins are forgiven.

But here’s the confusing part that we have talked about before … and we’ll probably talk about again.  When we become Christian, that does not mean we are free from sin. (Although some people claim we should be.)  It simply means we are free of the consequence of sin – which is death.  We will continue to sin because there is a battle between our old self and our new self.  But all we have to do is be sorry (repent) and ask for forgiveness and God forgives us. 

But - and there is that word again – that doesn’t free of us from the natural consequences of our actions.  Nor from the consequences that are imposed by parents or the law or some other authority.  So forgiveness isn’t a free ride.

Lets take an example from your life – something simple like sneaking out of the house in the middle of the night to go party someplace.

The first time it happens, your friend is over and ya’ll are bored and your friend suggests that you sneak out.  You know that it is wrong.  You know that we will be upset.  You know that you will get punished IF you get caught.  But you are willing to take the risk (and hope you won’t get caught) simply because you want the thrill of the moment.  This is the first time you have done this, and you aren’t mature enough to think through all the possiblities and make a good decision.  So you go.

And you get caught.  And there are consequences.  And trust is broken.  And you are miserable. 

But you know what you did was wrong and you ask God for forgiveness and he forgives you.  It is done.

And then you do it again.  This time knowing the consequences, but still not mature enough to fully recognize and choose based on what you know.

And you don’t get caught.  So you do it again and again.  Sometimes, you recognize that it is wrong and you ask God to forgive you.  Sometimes, you simply don’t care. 

Until you are caught again.   Then, you lie to try to escape trouble.  You lie more to cover your other lies.

And there are consequeces.  And trust is broken.  And you are miserable.

And then you decide that everyone in authority over you is clueless.  They are ridiculous and stupid.  They have no idea how mature you really are and they don’t have any right to tell you what to do.  You are grown and you can do whatever you want. 

So you do it again.  Content in your decision that no one can tell you what to do.

At this point, you have clearly stepped over the line from simple sin (disobeying your parents, lying, etc) to rebellion.  You are intentionally choosing to go against your parents, God and anyone else that was put here to guide you.

Rebellion can be forgiven, just like disobedience and lying.  However, rebellion is a pattern of intentional sin done as much to show that you are in charge of yourself, as it is an act just because you think it’s fun. Rebellion is a slap in the face to God and your parents.  It says, I know I’m supposed to obey you but you don’t know what you’re talking about so I’m going to do what I want anyway.  I don’t really care  how you feel.

So, now we get to answering the question.  Because I know that we are all prone to sin, why am I surprised, angry, upset, hurt or whatever when you do sin?  Why do I give consequences if God has already forgiven you?

The answer is that when I am surprised or angry or hurt or upset or whatever – it’s because I think you have learned your lesson about that particular sin and I don’t expect you do to it again.  Or because I think you are intentionally choosing to go against me.  Or because you have broken my trust and that hurts me.

Sometimes, I am angry because I am scared.  When you took the car that night and I found out that you got stuck on the railroad tracks while a train was coming I sounded angry.  But I was really terrified.  I understood fully what might have happened.  I knew how dangerous the situation really was.  I knew that you could have killed yourself or someone else and that scares me.  And sometimes, when a parent is terrified – they sound angry.  Your sin affects me too.

And I give consequences because that is my duty as a parent.  To teach and train you.  The consequences aren’t necessarily a punishment (although it can feel that way).  Rather, they are designed to help you learn and remember the things you need to know. 

So you might notice a difference in my reaction to different things you do.  Sometimes, I know what you choose to do is a result of immaturity.  That you have made a mistake, realized it, and probably won’t do it again.  If you do that, I don’t have to do very much.  You have done it yourself.

Sometimes, I know that you know better, because we have been through the situation once or twice or ten times before.  I’m impatient and offended because I know that you know better and you choose poorly anyway.  In those cases, I have to continue giving consequences – not only to protect you from getting into that situation again – but also waiting on you to learn the lesson.

Sometimes, what you do – like lying – is very personal.  It literally hurts me when you lie to me because the core of any relationship is trust.  Without trust, your words are meaningless.  And that is not a good thing for anyone. 

I hope that all this fits together and makes sense like it does in my mind.  All I’m really trying to say is that my job is to teach and train and guide and protect you.  Your job is to obey and learn.  If you do, things will go well with you.  If you step outside our guidance, things may not go so well.

I love you.

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