Tag Archives: Choices

I Think You are Courageous – Another Letter to my Daughter

First of all, I’m sorry. The Bible provides timeless principles for raising kids but I haven’t yet found specific instructions for “what to do when your child wants to do something really hard for a sixth grade project.” And so, being a little overwhelmed for you, I wasn’t very enthusiastic about your project, was I? Truthfully, we know that I tried to talk you into doing something different – something easier.

Sweetheart, I’m learning so much as your Mom. While you are an imaginative, positive, creative thinker, I’m realistic and sensible.

You dream up a project and say “That has potential!”
I consider your ideas and ask, “Is that possible?”

It’s my responsibility as a parent to be reasonable and practical. I think about costs and time and effort. Some people would say that’s being “down-to-earth.”

And yet, honey, I never ever want to ground your dreams to fly.

I was afraid that you would be disappointed. And that your idea might be a failure. And you’d be working on Plan B at the very last minute.

But now I understand that protecting you from failure doesn’t serve you well. The time for you to fail is now. Doesn’t that sound weird? It’s not that I want your ideas to fall flat or I’m hoping that you will miss the cut. But my better responsibility as a parent is to be a safe place when you try. If you fail, if you don’t make the team, if you don’t make the grade, if you’re disappointed after the big audition, I will love you. And support you. And cheer for you anyway.

I want you to try.

As you walk with Jesus, He will take you on a narrow road. You might think that this was just a history assignment, but I’m proud of you for not shying away from a difficult choice. Take it as a life lesson — as part of your own story.

Of course I want you to think and plan and practice wisely. Learning how to do this is a process of growing up. Learning how to let you learn is a process of growing as a parent. You’re just beginning middle school, and your decisions are going to become much bigger than what to do for a school project. We have a lot of learning and growing to do together.

We’re going to make mistakes. I just did, as a mom. I’m writing about it. Failure is not final. I think somebody famous said something like that. Oh, Winston Churchill. (I just looked it up.) You’ll probably learn about him this year.

Ok, here’s what he really said: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

So, all day long, on Saturday you worked. And shed a few tears. And continued.

“I can do it, Mommy.”

Sweetheart, I think you are courageous.

Kids and parents are discussing the life application of courage this month at our church. How appropriate, huh? Last week, our leader asked us to talk at home about things that have been hard and scary. I told you that, for me, 2013 has been a year of hard things like going on a mission trip without you and Daddy, taking a class on pastoral care at the hospital, and watching our dearest loved ones go through surgeries and chemotherapy.

At the class in the hospital, I had to go into the rooms of strangers and offer a word of hope or prayer. Sometimes those strangers were thankful and friendly and sometimes not. The director of the program knew that this was hard for a shy person like me.

“I think you are courageous,” he said.

His words gave me encouragement. Get it? En-COURAGE-ment. Just hearing that someone considered me courageous made me feel courageous.

But I couldn’t ultimately depend on courage coming from within myself or from the words of another person. An unkind word could just as easily dis-courage me. Before I could raise my fist to knock on another hospital room door, I had to rely on a promise that the Lord gave to Joshua:

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).

The Lord is with you, sweet girl. By His Spirit, you are courageous. Continue in hard things.

I remember now where I saw that quote from Winston Churchill. It was posted in a room where your Poppy received a treatment for his cancer.

Cancer is a hard thing. Your Grammy knows that too.

Poppy and Grammy are courageous. Sometimes you have to be courageous about things that you don’t choose.  But no matter what, God chooses to love you and stay with you, just as He continues to do so for your grandparents.

It is the courage to continue that counts.

Colossians 1: 6 – 7 says, “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in Him….”

Continue on, sweetheart. He will give you roots and let you fly.

Changing Lanes

When I was a kid, I thought that my parents were the world’s best drivers. Daddy was a drag car racer, so of course he had excellent reaction time and acceleration. But I was most impressed with Mom’s driving skills, probably because I was in the car with her more often. I could not understand how she could make the car move from one lane to another lane. To me, it didn’t seem like she was doing anything and yet the car would move into whichever lane she wanted it to be. Maybe – I imagined as a child would – she would just think about moving into another lane and the car would read her mind. I was disappointed when she tried to explain that changing lanes was not some kind of driver-to-car telepathy. Rather, she really was moving the steering wheel, subtly enough to make the car move aside without changing its direction.

I found myself engaged in the same conversation a few days ago. From the back seat, my little girl piped up: “How do you do that? How did you get from over there to over here?”

I tried to explain. But Caroline remained doubtful: “How can you be turning and going straight at the same time??”

“I’m not really turning – I’m moving the wheel just so slightly, and the car responds by moving to the left or the right.”

Like me, Caroline might not understand the subtleties of driving until she actually gets behind the wheel. But our conversation got me thinking about the power of the slight and subtle. For most of my life I’ve been a Christ-follower and I haven’t taken many sharp turns, figuratively or literally. But the longer I travel, the more aware I am of changing lanes. It doesn’t take much at all to make the shift. The route often depends on the subtle movements.

When I choose being right over being kind, I move into a lane of pride.

When I choose fixing my problem rather than praying through it, I move into a lane of self-sufficiency.

When I choose to focus upon my outward appearance more than the state of my heart, I move into the lane of image-management.

When I pursue success and satisfaction according to the world’s standards, I move into the lane of idolatry.

But when I choose gratitude over grumbling, I move into the lane of contentment.

When I choose a schedule that has more margins than demands, I move into the lane of peace.

When I choose receiving God’s favor over achieving God’s favor, I move into the lane of grace.

When I choose to wait upon the Lord rather than accelerate my own agenda, I move into the lane of trust.

Each day, there is an abundance of choices that might seem relatively minor but influence the direction of my attitude and character.

It really depends on who takes the wheel.

Lord Jesus, thank You for all the times when I’ve been over there, and by Your grace, You’ve moved me back over here. I’ll choose to be the passenger from now on. Amen.

The Lord grants wisdom!
From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.
He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest.
He is a shield to those who walk with integrity.
He guards the paths of the just
and protects those who are faithful to Him.
Then you will understand what is right, just, and fair,
and you will find the right way to go.
For wisdom will enter your heart,
and knowledge will fill you with joy.
Wise choices will watch over you.
Understanding will keep you safe.
Proverbs 2: 6 – 11