The Preteen Years: Mary, what did you do?

When Jesus was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom.  After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it.  After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.  Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers.  When his parents saw him, they were astonished.  His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”

“Why were you searching for me?”  He asked.  “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house.”

When I was pregnant with Grant, I wanted to read every book ever written on pregnancy.  I had never experienced a growing child inside my body.  It was unfamiliar, overwhelming and a little scary to tell you the truth.

Fast-forward to the toddle years, this once tiny baby was beginning to move and talk (back) and find his place as a person in our world.  Again, it was all so unfamiliar, overwhelming and a little scary to me.  So back to the bookshelf I went, scrolling my finger along the spines of books, trying to find any knowledge I could to raise this little human and not ruin him completely.

Now, three pregnancies and years of toddlerhood behind me, I find myself standing with my head in my hands again, looking ahead to unchartered water that I know absolutely nothing about.

Welcome to the preteen years.

I am hungry for direction here.  This not-so-subtle shift in my child causes me a little parental numbness.  The only thing I know for sure is that I don’t know much at all.  This new season, so unfamiliar, so overwhelming and a little scary, too.

But in the same breath — so exciting.

Grant is becoming a young man – equipped with a deeper voice, taller stature and lots and lots of questions.

Jesus’ childhood years are scarcely documented in Scripture.  We celebrate his birth and recreate all we know about it in plays, books, songs, snow globes and inflatable yard displays.

Fast forward to his toddler years.  We again know little.  Other than three wise men traveled miles to bow down to their promised King.

“And when Jesus was twelve-years-old…”

Then Jesus is documented as a preteen.  And although Mary never once had to scold him for abusing his Nintendo screen time or tormenting his younger brother John, she did encounter a very independent and inquisitive adolescent.

Jesus is noted here as breaking away from the crowd.  He was hungry for knowledge and He longed to be closer to His Father.

“The boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.”

I talked with another mom yesterday.  She and I have the shared privilege of having a very ripe preteen of twelve.  She said words, almost verbatim, of words I have used all my own.

“I have the elementary school kids figured out.  They are pretty easy.  But I don’t know what I am doing anymore with my twelve-year-old.  He stumps me daily.  Bless his heart, he really is my guinea pig.”

Aren’t our first-borns all trial and error?  Our precious guinea pigs, indeed.  Lord, don’t let us mess them up too badly!

I am extremely comforted today by “the boy Jesus.”  I am guessing, just guessing, that sweet Mary felt the same way — all the time.  Her first-born was not only her first-born. He was the son of God.  Geez, the pressure!

But what does she do?  Well, look at her response to his “staying behind.”

Obviously she wasn’t too overbearing.  (It was three days before she noticed him missing.)  This tells me she trusted Him.  It must have been normal for Him to have space and freedom to be alone, maybe to master His carpentry skills or take long walks with his peers.

But when He did surprise her, she pursues Him and openly shared her concerns.

I am learning to relate in a new way to “my boy Grant”.  He is spreading his wings and he needs to feel my trust.  He needs more space to be alone and freedom to take long walks with his peers.

And when he surprises me, I need to pursue him and share my concerns.  Firmly, yes. But differently ….

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Momma, if you are in a similar season with your child — let me encourage you, as I remind myself, we are not left alone in parenting.

God knew we could NOT do it.  He knew we needed a Helper.  A moment-to-moment Helper to guide us and speak to us – The Holy Spirit.

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.  John 14:26

In all my years of parenthood, I have never relied more on the nearness and realness of the Holy Spirit’s aid in my parenting.  Somedays I am so stumped by adolescence, that I seriously lock myself in the downstairs bathroom and ask Him, “Ok, what do we do now?”

Y’ALL…. HE IS THAT REAL.  HE IS THAT READY.  AND HE IS THAT ABLE TO HELP US IN OUR TIMES OF NEED.

And we need Him.  

I know Mary had Joseph to help with raising their sons, but I am bettin’ my Moe’s Bucks that she called on the help of her Heavenly Father ALL OF THE TIME.  She knew in her knower that this Jesus was HIS SON.  Who better to ask what to do with Jesus other than the Creator Himself.

What if we could see our babies in the same light?  I know in my knower, too, that my three sons are HIS THREE SONS FIRST.  So who better to ask what to do with them other that their Creator, too.

Today, remember, you are not alone.  Be comforted that God is constantly picking up my broken pieces over here, too.  And know that YOU HAVE A SHOT GUN RIDE with the best parenting pilot there is – Your Advocate, The Holy Spirit.  Let us NOT forget to call on Him in those, “What do I do now?” moments.

Lock yourself in the bathroom if that is what it takes because these “so unfamiliar, so overwhelming and a little scary” seasons of parenting are designed to help us draw near to the One who meets all of our parenting weaknesses.  Because it is in those weaknesses that His strength is just perfect (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Lord, thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit.  Thank you that You are ever-ready in times of parenting needs.  Help me remember that You have equipped me with everything I need for life and godliness.  You never leave me or forsake me.  Your strength is made perfect in me weaknesses!  You are a good God who loves me and You love my kids, even more than I do.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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