I heard a tragic story the other day. It was in the barest of details, but the scarcity of specifics does not alter the story’s sadness.
A young woman in her early twenties recently committed suicide. As in such cases, the family left behind was distraught with grief. The mother took it hardest. She blamed herself for not being a better mother, for not seeing the signs ahead of time, for not being there to prevent her daughter’s death.
A few weeks later, unable to untangle herself from her self-imposed guilt, she swallowed three handfuls of antidepressant pills.
Thankfully, this part of the story has a happier ending. Her husband found her in bed and called 911. She is alive today.
When I heard the story, I wondered, “But, what of her guilt? Does she still believe herself to be at fault for her daughter’s death? Does she still convince herself that if she’d done more for her daughter, she’d still be alive?”
As I said, I do not know the specifics of this story. I do not know the family dynamics, either current or in the past. But I do know this: We who are parents of older children are not responsible for their behavior. They now make their own choices, however bad, or tragic, those choices might be.
And this next point is most important: Even the very BEST of parents can still find themselves rejected by their adult children. Parents who loved and nurtured and protected their sons and daughters can today have children who want nothing to do with them.
Some of you reading this know what I am talking about.
And surely, God knows what I am talking about. What more could He have done for Adam and Eve? He’d placed them in the middle of paradise. Every one of their needs He met.
Every one of their needs.
But for them, it wasn’t enough. And we all know the end result.
The same thing happened between God and His chosen people, Israel. He’d loved them, nurtured them, and protected them. But it wasn’t enough.
God pleaded with His people through Isaiah: “What more was there to do for My vineyard that I have not done in it? Why, when I expected it to produce good grapes did it produce worthless ones?” (5:4)
He said the same thing through the prophet Micah: “My people, what have I done to you, and how have I wearied you? Answer Me.” (6:3)
God is a perfect parent. Let me emphasize that: God is a PERFECT parent. He did all He could do for His people. But they, of their own free will, made their own bad choices.
They still do.
Yet God does not take upon Himself any self-recrimination when His children estrange themselves from His love.
Now please hear this: When parents, in their imperfect humanness, do the best they know to do for their children, they must not take upon themselves any self-recrimination when their adult children make bad choices, or estrange themselves from their parents who love them.
Parents: Be at peace with yourself. You did the best you could do for your children, within the limitations of your own imperfect humanness. That is all God requires of you.