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Inspiration for Today’s Devotional: “Filly Forever”

Sometimes for better, sometimes for worse, sometimes it’s praiseworthy, sometimes it’s worth condemnation, sometimes it’s little, sometimes it’s big, and, in my opinion, belief in it is what measures your degree of faith in humanity: people change. And nowhere is that change felt more prominently by a parent or family member than in the change of a loved one from child to adult.

Rarity, as an older sister, had to face that in this episode when, in her attempt to spend some quality time with her little sister Sweetie Belle, she found out the hard way she wasn’t exactly the same pony she grew up with anymore. Yet as any long-time parent will tell you, staying connected with your loved ones as they get older isn’t always as simple as getting into their new interests, such as this episode presented.

I myself don’t have children so I won’t presume to know the full impact of what it’s like to have my kids grow up, but I’ve known some people for years as I’ve watched them grow and seen them become parents themselves. I can still recall the one point in my life where I took a look at a certain individual and came to the realization that I didn’t even recognize them anymore…and, sadly in this case, it wasn’t a better person than the old one. At first I was merely in denial, surprised by certain changes but assuming it was just a bad day or a weird mood, but as the years went on and I saw the relationship with his parents change, I grew more uncomfortable about it as I realized it was a personality shift. I spoke with the parents as well and I could see that they realized the same thing I realized, and it was devastating to them. They had tried their best to be good parents, sometimes succeeding and sometimes failing as many parents do, but I knew they had brought him up with a great deal of love, affection, and emphasis on responsibility. To watch them turn so different was a true shock to them, especially when he reached the point of his life that all teenagers did and started exerting his own independence, which led to, as expected, several broken rules, violations of trust, and eventually heated arguments.

Yet now I’m old enough to see individuals like this one have their own children, and I see even when their kids are barely moving into 1st grade the concerns are the same throughout the life of all parents. They’re always worried about them, especially when they misbehave or throw tantrums. All parents have times when they need to put their foot down and exert discipline…but there’s no parent, in my opinion, who wants to be in a position where their child is misbehaving so much that that’s all they do for an entire day. No parent, deep down inside, wants to “be the bad guy/gal”. Whether I’ve seen married couples or single parents, I’ve seen times when they’ve had to step out of the room so their children can’t see them lose their composure out of frustration as to what they’re doing wrong that their children are reacting to them this way, and they hate how they’re responding in turn. Children are often seen as symbols of innocence, but that means they can also be very cruel because they feel anything not directed at them doesn’t impact anyone else’s feelings. The most thoughtless thing a small child can do, thinking it’s a meaningless phrase or because they’re throwing a tantrum, is yell “I hate you” to their parents. I see these same parents, after hearing those words, fearing the years ahead and what it will mean when they become teenagers. Much like their parents before them, they’re worried that their rebellious streak will lead to a much greater rift or, as is often sensationalized by media stories, a host of nightmarish negative outcomes.

The good news is that the far majority of teenagers, for all the temptations and troubles out there and all the fears their parents experience, do make it through and to adulthood. The bad news is that doesn’t diminish the fear at the time, and, as part of growing up, everyone is going to have a point where they assert their independence and stop listening to mom and dad. In fact, there will probably be a long phase in the lives of most people, usually from late teens through mid-20s, where they’ll simply fully enjoy their “freedom” as adults and indulge in all of their fantasies while they’re young and have the ability to do so. It’s likely family will not figure into that very much.

However, I’ve also noticed in most cases that with age comes maturity. Things like marriage and childbirth force the old children, if they haven’t already, to start focusing on the important things in life and realize that they themselves are no longer on top. They start finding themselves overwhelmed with new problems and no experience, and then they start remembering they have people who aren’t their younger friends who have gone through the same things they now find themselves facing. As they sit around in houses of their own or tend to families of their own, they start feeling like something is missing that they only got from home. Parents and siblings slowly grow less annoying and more interesting. And it’s around these times, when a person grows wise enough to start making educated decisions and finds themselves faced with new problems, I see (if they came from a good family) these same individuals start to think back to what their parents or siblings would do, or how they taught them when they grew up.

The Bible says there is a season for all things. “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8) To supplement King Solomon’s famous dichotomy, I would add things like a time to be a child and a time to be an adult; a time to be rebellious and a time to be obedient; a time to run away from family and a time to come back to them; a time to be by oneself and a time to seek the company of others.  As I said to start with, people change. Sometimes it’s something late in life, but as part of growing up people change normally. They go from small, innocent, and yet self-interested and centered children to rebellious and experimental teenagers to (God willing) sensible and more empathetic adults. And we can’t always expect an individual in one phase to behave like an individual in another. Knowledge and good upbringing will only take one so far. Experience is something someone can only gain for themselves, and that is a “fruit” that one has to endure a long growing season to see become ripe.

We can’t know what the future holds for our children, but they also can’t be small and reliant on us forever. The day will come when they have to be on their own, and, on our part, we will have to let go and trust God.  And that won’t always be easy. When that day comes, all we can do is hope in the years ahead that they’ll come back.

But before that day comes, the best thing we can do is bring them up to be the best people they can be, holding true to a good example and promoting the Word. There are many testimonies with a common theme out there of people who recommitted their lives to Christ as adults after “seasons” of waywardness and sin. In many of these, what began to turn them around was remembering how much their families tried to impress on them the importance of the Bible, Church, and Lord Jesus, and they decided to go back once they hit bottom.  Likewise, in cases not so severe, on the day an individual gains experience and maturity to go along with their independence, people will remember what their families told them and showed them though they might have ignored such instruction for years.

In conclusion, my suggestion is to “sow your seed” well and be patient through the “growing seasons”. In due time, with commitment and trust to God, it will likely blossom.

Suggested Prayer: “Lord God, thank you for the gift of my loved ones each and every day; both in the days in which we embrace and the days in which we’re at each others throats. If I am going through a season where I find myself unable to connect with them, or I find myself forced to watch them from afar, I choose to commit my relationship with them to you with hope and faith that, with your divine assistance, we will come back together. And if I am fortunate enough to still have my loved ones close at hand, especially if I am a parent, please help me to encourage them every day to be good people who pursue eternal values…and grant that I let them know so that they remember every day of their lives that I love them. Gratefully in Jesus’ Name, Amen.”