I cannot think of anything more terrifying as a parent than thinking about letting my own child make a mistake I have already made. Every day my prayers are full of bargaining with God to keep them safe from feelings of guilt, pain and hurt. When we begin to think of all the “what-ifs” ahead of our kids, those thoughts can be paralyzing. Flashes of all the horrible choices we made in our own childhood come rushing back like a bad re-run. This used to keep me in firm position over them, deflecting all the attempts to cause harm, every fall that should have resulted in a lesson learned about choices and discernment. At age two, my daughter showed me no amount of helicopter parenting would ever prevent her from experiencing life. At some points, I thought maybe God had put her in my life show me you just can’t stop a locomotive hell-bent on getting to the next station. And Ashton was that locomotive and there was no way she was missing the next station in her route.
She continues to teach us valuable lessons about forgiveness, trust and how to approach life and live it to the fullest. Our kids don’t know a thing about “wait” or “stop”. The concept of thinking something through in every detail before leaping full force is lost on their strong-willed nature. I tried to consider why as an adult this becomes difficult. There are the obvious reasons of course: we have a better concept of danger, ethical violating behavior, and rules in general. But what about the other areas? When we have opportunities is it very easy to get caught up in the details: How will I afford it?, What if people don’t like me?, the list goes on and on of reasons we should do what our hearts show us to do.
This blog is a perfect example. I spent years (5 year or more) thinking about what this blog should be. I owned the site name for two years before one day suggesting to my daughter we should write together and then presto! Runnkd.com and A Path Emerges was born! She showed me what it COULD be. In those early moments, I realized I had been going at this all wrong. We spent so munch time thinking about what something SHOULD be rather than being available to what COULD be if we just start.
I believe this is God’s vision for us and how we live our lives. We devise all of these elaborate plans just to have them get derailed with no notice. We feel defeated and say “That wasn’t supposed to happen.” Have you ever heard your child say this? We hear it a lot. Secretly I love when they bring me broken things (as long as they aren’t mine) and want me to fix it. God as the perfect loves when we bring our broken, mistreated and twisted hopes and dreams. Only then can we be open enough to receive completeness through his healing and intervention.
Scripture tells us to have faith like a child.
And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:3
Only after having experienced life with our two children am I beginning to truly understand why Jesus told his disciples to “let the children come”. Sure it’s a sweet, heart-warming picture to envision Jesus crowded by those little children with expecting eyes and open arms, but what did he really mean? I think God was telling us, “Stop over thinking it! Stop trying to figure it out and just come!” He wants to worry about the details. He wants to demonstrate an overabundance of provision to you despite all of the attempts you will make to try and obtain it yourself. God is the perfect parent. He knew if he kept us restricted to the way he knows is right, preventing all of the evil things from happening, we would not have anything to learn. He wants to be our choice by giving us the opportunity to choose. ultimately, we want this for our children too. We want their lives to be a reflection of all of the choices they made so they can feel confident in their ability to make a wise decision and see the rewards. Sure, they are going to make some mistakes, and if they are anything like me…they are going to make some big ones and more than a few, but on the other end, they will have a story about them.
We all want a story. We all want to be the hero who saves the day. Just like any good story, the hero doesn’t always start out that way and without conflict, there is no need for heroes. Today, let’s commit to showing our kids how to fail gracefully, win humbly and walk confidently no matter which direction the path takes them.