Sunday, July 8, 2012

Monkey Bar Living


“In him we live and move and have our being.”  Acts 17:28


I stand in the back door watching as my four year old makes his way across the top of the monkey bars for the first time.  The kids have tied a ribbon to one of the bars and use it for Diego-style climbing on the slide.  This makes them happy and me nervous.  I stand there with my heart in my throat meditating on the inherent risks of summer.  My blood pressure rises and anxiety settles into its familiar perch in the muscles of my shoulders and neck. 

The weight of shepherding kids through summer is overwhelming.  There’s the burgeoning independence, the inherent dangers of pools and lakes, not to mention the lesser evils like bee stings and poison ivy.  It’s tempting to lock the windows and doors and crank up the AC rather than have the difficult conversations about “stranger danger” and why playing in the backyard is safer than the front. 

I pull away to check on the babies crawling through the living room at lightening speed and wonder, yet again, how we’ll all survive this summer.  I try telling myself to expect at least one trip to the emergency room, as if planning on it will make it any less alarming to endure. 

I could spend my whole day this way, the whole summer caught up in worry and fear.  But underneath it all I hear God’s still, small voice whispering and I know deep down this is no way to live. 

So I choose instead to meditate on the love of God.  Surely God loves my children more than I do.  And this love gives me the confidence to step out onto the shaky bridge that leads from fear to trust.  Like my son on the monkey bars I train myself to stop looking down, imagining how bad a fall would be, and learn to enjoy the view. 

I go ahead and buy the baby gates, two for good measure.  And along with them outlet covers and life vests.  But I refuse to buy into the fear, choosing instead to trust in the one who gives life and breath to us all.   

For some more great posts on fear, check out my friend Matt Tuckey's blog, Y Thoughts. What helps you move from fear to trust? 

12 comments:

  1. Thanks Kelly, This is an encouraging post.

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    1. Thanks, Dad. You and Mom have taught me a lot about walking through fear with faith and grace and embracing life, despite the "cliff-hangers" on every corner.

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  2. Thanks for sharing Kelly. I am in a different season of parenting. But the notion of letting go and letting God is critical to our very survival as two start driving, one leaves for college and my youngest goes into an undetermined school environment. This season is a high wire act for me . My oldest leaves the nest, praying she has the skills for independence, sound decision making and the skill set to seek guidance when needed. My prayer is that in letting go,.I grow more deeply in my grasp of 'abide in me.' ..no longet an abstract idea, but an action verb!

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    1. Thanks so much for sharing, Audrey. I know all of the letting go at this stage is simply training wheels for the future. I have a friend who has twins who've just started driving and she said the first time they both drove off (they're only children) she seriously felt like she was going to have a panic attack. I guess it comes back to trusting that the distance between you and them is also filled with God's love and grace and accepting that they might not realize that if they never risk the chance of falling into His arms. Glad to have you on the journey with me:).

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    2. Preparing my last sermon brought the lines from an old sermon deeper into my heart, "Abide with me, fast falls the eventide . . . Oh, thou that changest not, abide with me."

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  3. Thanks Kelly...

    You do for your beloved children what Jesus does for you as well... you provide context where they can mature and grow, even if what it takes for their growth makes you uncomfortable.

    Ever wonder what it is that makes God wince, yet restrain Himself, as you dig into the next learning cycle?

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    1. I know Vern. I used to wince at the God as parent motif, but I find it a real source of compassion and comfort at this stage in life. The twins love to get stuck in a relatively dark and pointless corner of the living room where they continually succeed in tipping over a lamp. There was a point when I was pulling them out of there several times a day. I moved from amusement, to frustration, to exasperation, to compassion. It ocurred to me that God must feel the same way about some of the theological corners we keep working our way back into when there's a whole, wide "living room" where we could play and explore, but we keep finding our way back into the dark, leading nowhere corners!

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  5. As a risk manager for most of my career, it's difficult to not cast this upon my kids - or let it seap into all aspects of my life, ultimatley chokign the fun and life out of everything. Identifying unreasonable risk and avoiding it is wise. Releasing, relaxing, and understanding that the inherent risks of life build trust, confidence, growth, and resilience is also wise. For me, it's holding onto the truth that God uses all for good. That it's not all up to me to manage every aspect of life so that everyone is safe. I cannot. But, He is in this with me and uses it all for good - for grace and redemption - for us.

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    1. As a leader and parent it's in discerning the difference between the two - unreasonable risk and reasonable - that I'm most dependant on God's grace.

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  6. There is such a fine line between prudence/wisdom and fear. Unfortunately, I too often fall onto the wrong side of that line. Yes, we need wisdom and prudence in raising our children, but part of that parenting is allowing them (in non-life threatening situations) that sometimes they must fall if they make foolish mistakes.

    Thanks for your encouragement and reminder to focus on the Lord in the midst of it all. Coming over from Michelle DeRusha's link-up.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Kate. I'm often thankful for my husband who has a higher risk tolerance than me in a lot of ways.

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