Friday, July 12, 2013

A Birthday and My Frustrations

My oldest child celebrated his 22nd birthday back in April.

Celebrating his big day at Steeplechase Grill

For those who don't already know, Ryan has moved back home.

And just think back to all those tears I shed during the last half of his senior year of high school. I just couldn't stand the thought of my child moving out of our home. After he moved out, I moped around like my life was coming to an end or something. And he was only about 45 miles away! But I slowly adjusted to seeing him over an occasional weekend and at holidays.

And then after one semester, he decided he didn't like dorm life, so he moved back home and became a commuter student. More adjustments must be made. That one semester proved a little difficult. Having a college student back at home, with his new found independence, provided a slight challenge in that he operated on a different schedule than we did, most of the time.

And when he did not have class and was at home during my school hours with Will, his presence was a slight distraction. For a short time. But we adjusted and soon it seemed quite natural having my college student living at home with us.

The following fall found him enrolled in college at Georgia Southern University, an hour and a half drive from home. This time his moving out didn't cause the same anxiety, and I was even ready for him to go :). We enjoyed setting up his apartment and he was excited to be moving.

There he stayed for the next three years, coming home for weekend and holiday visits. But looking back, I'm almost positive that he just wasn't ready. Not that he isn't smart enough, because he is. He graduated high school with a 4.0 and was salutatorian of his class. But maybe emotionally, or psychologically (?), he just wasn't ready for college. I don't know.

I just know that over the course of four years, he could never make up his mind. He wasn't sure of his choice in colleges. He wasn't sure that he really wanted to live away from home. He wasn't even sure what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. He changed his major four times. And each time he thought he'd found something that he would really like to do, it soon became apparent to him that he hadn't found it after all. He just could not seem to find his niche in life. Maybe he should have taken a year off after graduating high school, and found a job. Perhaps a year of some sort of hard work would have encouraged him to decide on a major and stick with it.

He lost interest in any of his classes, and school in general. Over the last year his grades began slipping, and at the end of last semester he was put on academic probation. He admitted to us recently that he had finally stopped going to his classes altogether. His friends told us he had become basically a hermit. He didn't enjoy hanging out with his friends or going anywhere with them.

He only wanted to stay at the apartment, and pretty much play video games. I think for him, the games provided a retreat from reality. The same way drugs and alcohol do for some people. I'm still trying to figure out exactly what it is that he is retreating from. It's not like he's had a bad home life or anything.

Of course, we felt that after four years of doing nothing but accumulating student debt and getting nowhere close to earning a degree of any sorts, his only option was to move back home and find a job. And he was very eager to comply. Now he will have to go to work and start repaying his student loans, and he didn't even finish college.

packing up in his apartment

After moving him back home, I can see that he truly is addicted to video games. I know that must sound funny, but I'm talking about more than your average gamer. He eats, sleeps and breathes these games, mostly online games. It's all he wants to do. Of course, since he's been back home, Mike has tried to keep him busy with several jobs around the house, and lots of yard work. We are desperately praying that the Lord will provide a full time job for him.

My friend asked me if we had considered the possibility that he might be depressed. At first I would have said yes. It definitely sounds like depression. Basically becoming a social recluse, retreating into a shell, so to speak, giving up exercising and his healthy lifestyle, gaining back all the weight (and then some!) he had worked so hard to lose during his senior year of high school... But, since he's been back home he seems like his old self again. He laughs a lot. He interacts with us. He happily attends church and his Sunday School class. He wants to go out with us. He seems genuinely happy. In some ways he even seems more mature... It has now occurred to him that Mom and Dad know more and are smarter than he once thought. His reckless ways have given way to more carefully considered ones (except in whether or not to attend classes, obviously). He no longer takes us for granted and seems to genuinely seek his dad's advice.

It is baffling. I'm not sure what was wrong. Maybe the cliché "college isn't for everyone" rings true. He is trying to find a job, but in this small town they are hard to come by. He also is considering pursuing a degree from the local technical college. While living at home with us, of course. I'm not sure if that's the best option for him at this point. I think at this time in his life, a full time job would better serve him.

I have done some major stressing over my firstborn these last few years. Do I feel like a failure because he seems to have no goals nor aim in life? To some degree, yes. Is there anything that I could have done differently along the way? I don't know. He is very smart, and he is a very talented writer, and I know that that is something he is passionate about. Why will he not pursue that passion? I have no clue. It's been said that "right-brained" people (who are gifted in the arts) think differently and see things differently than everyone else, hence their creativity. So maybe he sees things differently than his dad and I do. Is that true, or is it just something a psychologist made up? I don't know. After all, I'm just ranting here. 

There is no moral to this story, nor much of a point. I just needed to vent and I am better able to sort through my thoughts and think more clearly when I write them down. And that is when I am reminded that God IS in control. No matter how frustrated I am over this, I have to keep telling myself that He has a plan for Ryan's life. Ryan has trusted Christ as Savior and he is a child of God, so I know that I can trust that His plan is good, although Satan would have me believe otherwise.

All I know to do now is continue to pray, and trust God to work out His plan in Ryan's life. Pray that Ryan would be obedient to whatever God's plan holds for his future. Pray, trust and obey. Isn't that what we, as Christians, are called to do, anyway?

Update: Last night I received a phone call from a friend, offering Ryan a part time position at their place of business! It isn't a full time job, but he'll take what he can get and we'll be grateful for it. Praise God for His faithfulness!


  1. praying for all of you. Praying for Ryan. Thankful for the job. It was good to read it all as a whole....

    Love you.

  2. Will be praying, Melissa, but also I wanted to mention that there are good counselors in the area - Pastor Rowe at Trinity PCA in Statesboro, teaches nouthetic counseling ("personalized intensified discipleship in the word of God") classes and runs a counseling ministry in Statesboro, and has trained a number of folks from Vidalia First Baptist to do the same. You could contact either church about bringing him in if you like -- more on the subject here: You're describing a long-term pattern of behavior, which is a heart-level issue, which is where they will address it. There is typically a focus on establishing hope in the beginning and then discipling him toward growth and biblical change from there.


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