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Archive for June 24th, 2014

We’re supposed to go to the water park today.  The forecast is partly cloudy with a 20% chance of rain.  Immediately, I start weighing whether or not it’s worth the risk to go, if there’s a possibility of rain.  But then I realize that a 20% chance of rain also means an 80% chance of no rain.  I’m no math wizard, but I do know that 80 is greater than 20, yet that 20% chance still makes me nervous.

And so it goes with parenting.  All of us parents are keenly aware of our children’s weaknesses.  They may have a boatload of strengths and wonderful qualities – 80% – but we can so easily become fixated on their weaknesses – the 20%.  I speak from experience because I just got whacked upside the head with the reality that my fears over the 20% have been robbing me of my joy as a parent, and sometimes blinding me to the 80% good in my kids.

One child, in particular, has struggled in many areas, and at times it felt like the ratios were flipped, with an 80% chance of rain all the time.  But the truth is, this child is not the same kid he was back then.  He’s growing into a thoughtful, more responsible, funny, articulate, sweet young man who loves God and wants to please others.  And yet, when he went on a recent 6-day choir and missions trip, I waited in anticipation for the rain.  I knew what his past struggles were, and assumed they were here to stay, not believing that all my years of discipling, teaching, training, praying for God to help him and me, exposing him to uncomfortable experiences so he could grow, had actually made a difference.  But then one of the adult sponsors told us what a great job he did and how much he’s matured this year.  My son also blew us away by telling us what a great time he’d had doing all the activities that were centered around…sports.  Sports?  Really?!!  The kid who previously hated all things sports-related had a good time?  And he wasn’t even with his good buddies?  How could this be?

Listen up, moms – yes, I’m talking to you, mom who’s apologizing to everyone at the playground for her preschooler who is throwing bark dust – our kids have a greater capacity to change and grow than we give them credit for.  We pour out all our energies on trying to prevent that 20% chance of rain, but the truth is, childhood is full of moments of sunshine and rain for all kids.  Every child will have ups and downs, but we will miss the joy of the ups if we live in constant fear of the downs.  So much of what we obsess over either never happens, or if it does, we realize it’s just another opportunity to learn from mistakes and grow.  We tend to project their current weaknesses and struggles far into the future, ignoring the reality that time and maturity – and all that love we pour into them on a daily basis – can soften, and sometimes erase, the jagged edges of their personalities.

Instead of seeing our kids as they are now, we often cling to painful memories of the past, and overlook all the growth that’s taken place.  It took being away from my kid for 6 days for me to realize that I still see him as that struggling 2nd grader who was drowning in public school and needed me to rescue him.  The truth is, he’s no longer that same kid.  Yes, he has areas of weakness that we still work to address, but so does every other kid his age.  (What 12-year-old boy is not awkward or weird in some way?)  I have a good friend with a Mary Poppins child – “practically perfect in every way” – and it blesses me every time she starts listing all her fears for him.  Why?  Because it reminds me that no mother is immune to the 20% dilemma.  We ALL can get so fixated on what might go wrong, that we miss out on enjoying all the is going right!

Not only do we risk missing out on the joy of parenting when we live in fear of the rain, we demonstrate a lack of faith.  If I have given my child to God and asked for God to help me be the parent my kids need, am I really trusting in God’s provision when I worry and fret over those aspects of his personality that God may just have given him on purpose?  I have heard “worry” defined as planning for the future without God.  Raise your hand if you’re not guilty of this.  (Mine is down, by the way.)  I would go a step further to define worry over a child as making assumptions about your child’s future based on the absolute worst case scenarios regarding all his or her weaknesses being magnified to the degree that they crowd out any possible good.  I’m not saying that if we all would just chillax, everything will come out sunshine and roses.  Parenting is hard work and not always rewarding.  Some kids make really bad choices and suffer tough consequences, and we can’t (and sometimes shouldn’t) always prevent that.  But neither should we live in fear of that day from the time they are 2 years old!  It’s tough when kids don’t live up to our expectations, and we can beat ourselves up and train ourselves to be on the lookout for clouds as a result.  But where’s the joy in that?  Where’s the faith and hope in that?  Who wins?  To quote the Song That Shall Not Be Named, it’s time to “let it go.”  We can trust God to give us wisdom.  We can trust God to help us love our kids, even when they’re going through tough phases.  And we can trust God to shelter us under his wing when the rain comes.

So today, I’m resolving to let go of my past images and assumptions of my child so I can see him for who he really is, “God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for [him] to do” (Eph. 2:10).  Today, I’m going to the water park.  It might rain or be too cold and cause us to leave early, in which case we’ll have a funny story to recall together later.  Or it just might be awesome.  I’m putting my hope in the 80% chance of sun because I know Who created the sun, and he works all things together for good for those who love God and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).  All things.  100%.  I like those odds.

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