Monday, August 27, 2007

A Scary Ride

I think the last time I rode a really big roller coaster was when I was a senior in high school. I used to really enjoy them. I'd go on the Gemini or the Blue Streak over and over again. But then, they started building them bigger than I had the stomach for. A bunch of us went to Cedar Point at the end of our senior year. My friend Jennifer Dixon and I decided to ride the new roller coaster they had that year, the Magnum. It never really occurred to me that it might be more than I could handle. At least it didn't occur to me when it really mattered. We were going up the first hill and it seemed to be taking a very long time to reach the top. Not because it was moving slowly, but because it was a really long way up there! When we were about half way up, I happened to glance over and saw that the biggest hill on the Gemini was already well below us. It was then I began to panic and realized that maybe getting on this ride hadn't been such a great idea. But at that point I was strapped in, and there was no way off but to ride it to the end.

I flashed back to that moment repeatedly during my first pregnancy. I am not a big fan of pain. In fact, I'm really a complete wimp when it comes to pain. And while being pregnant agreed with me quite nicely, the thought of how it was all going to end struck fear into my heart. I was going up that big hill for nine (and a half) months, dreading the big drop on the other side! Six months into that pregnancy, I could feel J's head really well in my right upper abdomen. It seemed about as large as the head of the average three or four month old baby. I thought, "This is going to keep growing for another three months and then come out where?! Is this some kind of joke?" Sure enough, he was 99th percentile for head circumference when he was born.

Lately I've been getting that feeling again. This time it's about a much bigger issue. And this time, there's no hope of an epidural. My flashes of panic are about whether or not this whole parenting thing is going to turn out right. Am I really qualified? Am I doing it right? If I don't let them do X am I squelching their personalities? If I do let them do X, am I being too permissive? Where should we school them? Did I scar them for life when I screwed up today? And the list goes on. . .

In Grace Based Parenting, Tim Kimball describes rearing children as trying to put together a puzzle. Except, unlike a regular puzzle, this is one where all the edge pieces have been removed - you have to decide the boundaries are for yourself. Then there are some extra pieces that don't fit thrown in, but you don't know which ones they are. And you may not figure it out until you've wasted a lot of time trying to make them fit your situation. And finally, the cover to the box is lost, so you're not even exactly sure what the final picture is supposed to look like.

I thought that was a fitting description. It's pretty incredible that perhaps the most important responsibility humans have ever been given comes with so few explicit instructions. There are plenty of guiding principles in God's Word, but knowing how to apply those to this situation with this child takes a lot of wisdom. As with everything God does, I know it's best. If it were all spelled out in detail, I wouldn't be driven to Him for wisdom and guidance. If it were all spelled out in detail, there would be no allowance for parents to adapt their approach to fit each child's needs best.

The most frightening thing is that once I know how the final product turned out, it will be too late to go back and change anything. If that's not enough to drive you to your knees in prayer daily, I don't know what is. I may not always know what's best for my children, but I know the One who does. He has the power to guide me and give me the wisdom I lack. And he has infinite grace to overcome my frequent failures.

James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.


julie said...

I often feel like I am on a roller coaster ride ande want to get off.

I'll have to read that book.

Thanks for the good thoughts.

SJ said...


It is a good one. I think you'll like it

Lacy H. said...

that's a great post...lots of wisdom and lots of grace. ;)