In the afternoon I listened to and counseled my struggling friend on parenting her teenager. As you can imagine, I know very little about parenting teenagers- only snipets from my experience being one and three years of teaching them. It's amazing nonetheless how much of her problem was a God problem more than a parenting problem. I wonder how often that might be true in other situations. Anyway, knowing how little I know, I tried to do ten times as much listening as talking. In the end, my understanding of the issue was that she, like other single moms I know around here, is counting on her only daughter to value and love her unconditionally, making up for her own lack of healthy self-esteem and filling the emptiness in her heart. Unfortunately teenagers are not a great source for that. While she can't control her teenager, she can do something about her own needs and feelings.
We talked about Jeremiah 2:13-- "My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water." She definitely "got" the idea that her daughter is the broken cistern in this story, incapable of offering her the fresh, flowing, living water she so much desires. We talked too about the idea that humans are made with a God-shaped hole in their hearts, and that try as we may to fill it with everything else, we won't be happy unless we fill it with Him.
Those are good reminders for me at least, and I was grateful for the opportunity to dive back into them. Nothing else can fill my emptiness- not vacations or marriage or ministry or money. As St. Augustine wrote, "You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you."