The rush of May is upon us. Anticipation and emotion run high throughout the month, and whether that is positive or negative is yet to be determined.
Under our roof, we have two thriving children preparing to move up to the next step in their academic journey—middle and high school. When our oldest child transitioned to middle school three years ago, it was the height of the pandemic. Decisions were made for us, not by us. Currently faced with a stack of choices to guide our daughters through, the short-term lack of autonomy we experienced three years ago seems valuable. Today, living in a seemingly vast land of choice, we must pause and reflect before we take the next step forward.
In this environment of what felt like endless options, how can they choose?
The ability to chart your own course is one of privilege, so shouldn’t we be thankful?
This week, I sank into the sofa, intent on putting down the weight of the semester as I relaxed into the pillows. My children seemed on edge, and I felt no different. I debated over the “why” and could come to only one conclusion: Now, the stakes seem higher.
Reflection took an introspective turn as I attempted to clear my mind. I remembered fondly the simple moments on the playground with my girls, when the toughest choice they made was if they were brave enough to go down the high slide. I responded to their trepidation with unwavering support, since I believed either choice they made was brave, and truthfully, would likely have very little influence on their future life trajectory.
I tried to compare the high slide to peer pressure, risk taking, transcripts, resumes, and social media. With relaxation out the window, I recognized the question I was asking ran deeper: What did we want to show our children about what it means to rely on God when the stakes seem high? Intellectualizing your way through forks in the road is very appealing. Why rely on the “certainty of what we cannot see” (Hebrews 11:1-3) when we could grasp on to a formula that would ensure we point our children on the right path?
As any seasoned parent will tell me, that’s not the way it works. We haven’t discovered the flawless steps our children should accomplish so their end game automatically leads to joy, security, and well-being.
A simple, framed picture sits on my desk, reminding me to “be still and know” (Psalm 46:10). In the current moment, I believe is it important to demonstrate to our children how we can be still, knowing that God loves them more than we can imagine. This love is not contingent on their high school transcript, their sports participation, or their community service hours.
Maybe the value isn’t found in decisive action when the stakes seem high. Maybe, instead, it’s found in being still, knowing that God will support and guide our children, as they learn to rest in the knowledge of God’s love and presence in their lives, regardless of their path or the choices they make.
Our children reminded me they would prefer that we take the reins and call the shots when the stakes get high. They felt that “being still” looked like the opposite of what they felt good parenting should represent. Filled with anxiety in the midst of transition, they bluntly asked for answers and had little patience for the process of weighing options.
I had to remind them that our job as their parents is not to write a prescription for happiness that they should follow. We are not to curate a path for their lives to go “just so.” God has a plan for that already. It’s our job to demonstrate how to rest in the knowledge of God’s love, as we plant seeds of faith and cultivate the tender soil of their hearts.
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