Almost ten years ago we bought a house with a pool. My biggest fear was that my twins, who were only 20 months old at the time, would somehow end up in the pool. So, after installing a pool fence, I set out to teach them to swim. Daily we would go into the pool. They would sit on the steps and wait their turn. One by one I would take them out into the water and teach them different skills. They learned to blow bubbles, kick their feet, move their arms and float. After a couple of summers working with them, they both learned to swim.
One of my biggest fears as a parent is not preparing my children for life. In the past I have felt it was important to protect my children from the ugliness of the world. There are things I still think are important to protect them from. But I also want them to know how to handle different situations. I don’t want simply tell them how to handle different circumstances, but show them how to thrive. It’s one thing to have an idea on how to act in different environments; it’s a much harder thing to actually do it.
School is out for the summer but when the break is over; my son will head to public middle school. It’s a whole new environment filled with exciting opportunities and some potential pitfalls. He will encounter language, behaviors and situations that are inappropriate to say the least. I don’t know what his reaction will be. I don’t know if he will thrive as a Christian in this environment or sink feeling overwhelmed by all he sees. Time will tell.
One of my favorite stories in the Bible is about Joseph. His arrogance upsets his brothers and they sell him into slavery. As Joseph grows, he encounters good and bad. There are times he finds favor and times he unjustly accused. He remained faithful even when those around him were not. Joseph’s trials and triumphs were all for a purpose. Each and every situation he encountered was to train him for God’s ultimate plan for his life. I wonder what would have happened had he stayed home in the safety of his family. And I wonder if, as Joseph looked back at his life, if he would have chosen the comfort of home over the struggles.
Jonah has a whole new world step into. I am thankful he has chosen to go to school where he has. Just as I did when he was learning to swim, I will get in the water with him. I will remind him of the things he knows and help him learn the new skills he needs to thrive. I will support and encourage him. I will not only carry him to the Lord in prayer, but I will bow before the throne with him. We will do this together so that one day he will be able to go it alone. I know there are no guarantees. I know there will be difficult times. But I also know that stepping out in faith will teach him to depend on God. Ultimately, that is my deepest desire for my boy.