Twice in three days. Twice I held my breath. Twice I watched as each child climbed new heights. First it was the Court Jester in the park on a clear blue day. His sister led him higher and higher on a jungle gym.
It took power I didn’t know I possessed to calm my mommy heart and stay planted, feet rooted to the ground, when I wanted to run and pull him into the safety net of my arms. With each step higher, I punched down my fears. What if he falls? What if he gets hurt?
But he didn’t.
Look Mommy! He yelled across the playground, pride swelling his little heart. I climbed so high! The joy on his face? Obvious.
Two days later it was the Princess. We were outside working in the yard with dirt lining our eyes and dust filling our noses. I turned to see a chair shoved against a tree—my confident daughter half-way up its branches. And I sucked in a deep breath.
But I let her climb. She wanted to touch the sky. Instead of grabbing fear, I let it go.
It was in that moment I wondered, do I really want my children to live a life of careful? Of safety? A life without risk?
I’m not sure I do. Because a life of safety can trap us in the bounds of comfort. Safety can confine our children to the realms of easy. But I want my children to know they can do the hard things. The tasks that can only be accomplished while holding the hand of their Creator.
You see, when my mommy heart refuses to acknowledge the difference between risk and reckless, I miss opportunities to instill confidence in my children. Don’t get me wrong. Bike helmets and seat belts are non-negotiables. But climbing jungle gyms and trees may be a risk worth taking. I am starting to realize risk might be exactly what my children need.
So on this day, these are the questions in my heart…
If I squelch the child-like desire to climb to the highest points of a jungle gym, will they hold back in life when they should run forward?
If my children are not allowed to risk battered shins or even a possible broken bone, will they fail to risk a bruised ego by standing in the gap for those facing the taunts and jeers of others?
If I never let them fail, will they ever realize true success only comes from lessons learned on the back of mistakes?
If I don’t trust them to make some decisions on their own, will they ever learn to be confident in the choices that matter in life?
If I rush to hold the tear-stained face from skinned knees without also putting them back up on the bike, have I taught them to accept defeat?
If I hover and fret, will they only be filled with doubt and worry?
If they’re too careful will they be afraid to follow their dreams—that God-call on their lives?
If I never let my children do the hard things, will they ever be willing to say yes to a life of character? Because there is nothing easy about the road of integrity.
If I only show them the protected life, will they believe the God-walk is only blessings? Because sometimes trusting God is the toughest thing a heart will ever do.
The reality is when my children only ever live in the comfortable cocoon I’ve built around them, they never need courage. And in this life? Courage is exactly what they must learn to have. Because God doesn’t promise a life of safety, and it takes bravery to face the evil lurking in this world.
One day my children will fall, and I won’t be there. What will they do? Who will they look to? A heart of courage looks inward and upward. Independent, yet fully dependent on their Jesus, not me.
I cannot ever be the source of my child’s strength. Ever. Wise counsel, firm guidance, proper boundaries—Yes. But never their strength. Only God can fill that role. And they must be brave enough to follow Him.
This life will take courage. It will take risk. But the beautiful life is worth the risk. I must be the one to teach them how to climb.
What if I stood back instead of held back?
Maybe then I could watch my children live a life of boundless faith. A life when each step must be a step they take trusting in the God who loves them more than I ever could. Because those steps become leaps. Those leaps become flight. And in flight, they can touch the sky.