Yes, that's how it feels, and frankly that's how it's been. There are so many negative influences and elements overwhelming our children daily that it's no surprise when we sense the outside influence inside our homes.
You don't measure your progress moment by moment, as we need a greater time frame perspective to measure growth (e.g. can you see your infant grow in 2-weeks' time? But according to the doctor, he/she not only grew but gained weight as well!) No, we measure long-term growth. We concede little defeats along the way because it's a greater battle being waged for the long-term growth and development in to young men and women of integrity, humility, and godly service.
Sometimes I feel so great about how far we've all come. I've learned to chill out on some issues I used to get hot about, and to stand firm on others I used to bend endlessly on. The kids aren't the only ones changing, mom & dad are, too.
But then other times (like now), you feel like your kids are destined to become like their most negative influence, despite your attempts to counter with unconditional love, intercessory prayer and positive example.
For me, there are different levels of pain. Someone hurts me, generally I can get over it quick. Quick to forgive and not hold a grudge is how I try to be (because that's what I need from others!) Then there's the real stingers, the ones that you never saw coming. Again though, maybe your shocked for a moment, but it wears off.
Then there's the one that doesn't produce any anger at all, just devastation and disappointment. If you're a parent, you know exactly what I mean. It just doesn't add up, and it never will. No sense in trying to make any sense of it, because it just doesn't make any sense.
I reason in my mind that although my (step)children may not be responding, I have two other wonderful kids that I can pour myself in to, and save myself any future heartache. And just when I've reasoned myself into justifying a 'conditional love' henceforth I am convicted by an example that I aim to follow.
The One that was ultimately rejected by those He loved and came to serve and save. The Heavenly Father's Son who showed love at all times and in all ways - totally and completely unconditionally.
So I pray, because I know I serve a Savior that understands exactly what this feels like. He loves perfectly, where I love imperfectly. He never does the wrong thing, where I often do. His rejection was far greater than I feel (or ever will), yet He stands ready to hear my feeble prayers and renew me by the power of His love.
So the conclusion that I come to time and again is that quitting simply is no longer an option. I've quit plenty in the past, but those days are long gone. There's too much at stake to hold anything back, and true unconditional love is given without expecting in return, so I've got a ways to go.
Honesty, integrity, consistency, humility - all character traits we are seeking to model and develop in our children. Are they there yet? Nope. Am I? Honestly, nope.
Although the sting is deep and the hurt raw, I am going to have to let forgiveness take hold where there is frustration and disappointment. Because I serve a great God who never once said,
So how could I?