#4 One of the biggies I've figured out, or caught or at-this-second understand is that I cannot live anyone else's life.
This is empowering and terrifying. I can't will, manipulate, shape, or pray anyone I love into being someone I wish they'd become. (Note...I said I can't, doesn't mean I haven't exhausted myself trying, ya know?)
My husband answers for himself, bears his own consequences (which are often shared with me and filed under number 9 in the marriage vows).
Our son and his wife are financially light years ahead of us when we were their age and kinda, for the most part, now. He didn't get that from our example.
Our oldest kids are spiritually discerning and mature, again far beyond who we were and what we grasped at their age. Again, not caught from our pristine example.
One kid went to college and now teaches and is so good at what he does. Another tried a class or two and works with her hands bringing joy and caffeine through the art of coffee roasting. The other just became a mommy and has embraced breast feeding and child nurturing way beyond what I ever expected.
Two of three of our kids have tattoos, one of them even has a sleeve. One of our children had to go through a lot of hell on earth to learn some basic truths. Two of the three children we've had the blessing of raising into adulthood have given homes (or are preparing to) to kids in need of a safe and secure place to grow. The other is a stepmom who loves her little guy bunches. These kids of mine give their hearts away over and over to people.
Each of our kids is a curious and delightful blend of genetics, nature and nurture. And I don't know that I could be any prouder or feel more blessed that they are in my life. And had I been able to shape them into people who I thought they should be the world would have lost out. My kids are who they are because they aren't an extension of me. They weren't mine to sculpt, shape maybe, but not sculpt. These human gifts were only for me to take care of for awhile, never meant for my use or keeps. The blessing of their presence in my life on any level is beyond payment enough.
And, at 53 I have come to the realization that loving HURTS. And there is no absolute security in any earthly relationship. That those we invest in, try to train, pour into, love and love and love, have choices and sometimes those choices might break our hearts.
But there is hope even then. (I have proof, powerful proof in my life and these have become Ebenezer stones where I can look back and say "God was with me then, and I know He's with me still.) The responsibility I have is to speak truth, love as and beyond I am able, to set boundaries if needed, forgive and hope. Even in the hardest of cases, there is always the hope I have in Jesus. Since He's proven Himself to me I am able to rest in the knowledge that I am not the king (or queen) of anyone's universe, and I'm good with that.