I found myself giving my son advice the other day on how to deal with a challenge he was having with his soccer coach. I started telling him that he should talk to his coach in private and share his frustration; but to make sure he showed the coach respect – even if it wasn’t reciprocated. Then, I stepped back and thought about it a little more, and then told him to handle it in whatever way he thinks is best, because he is the one who is going to have to live with it. Ultimately, I may not agree with how he handles the situation, but as long as he just doesn’t sweep it under the rug, I know he will learn from it. I realized he knew the coach better than I did and needed to think for himself.

It made me think back to when he was a toddler and first learning to walk. I watched him pull himself up on a piece of furniture and then stumble across the room. He was so unsteady. I just wanted to wrap him in bubble wrap in order to protect him. Honestly, for me, watching him learn to walk was exciting, but also difficult to watch. It was inevitable that he would fall and hurt some part of his body from time to time. Usually, he would fall, hurt himself and then quickly look in my direction. If I was looking at him, he would most certainly cry. But if I kept my head turned away so that I wasn’t looking at him (or so he thought), I would see him evaluate the situation, pick himself up and give it another go. Soon, he was walking just fine without my help.

When I was a young parent, I often wanted to do everything in my power to keep my children from facing difficult challenges that came into their lives. It pained me more than anything to see them suffer, and so I often found myself guiding them in the direction of least resistance. Unfortunately, they often took the harder road, which frustrated me to no end. Today, I still do my best to help them navigate the minefield of life, but I also learned over the years that by not letting them face their struggles, I could be hindering them from properly preparing them for the great things God has in store for them.

I don’t need to teach my kids to search for challenges in life, because as we know, challenges always find us. These challenges are essential in molding us into the person God wants us to become. I am still a protector, but I am more of a support system for them now. I am there to encourage them and help propel them forward when they grow weary. I am there to offer my thoughts when they reach a fork in life’s road and they are trying to determine which path to take. But most importantly, I am there to constantly point them towards God and His plan for them. I encourage them to not fear the unknown and to put their faith and trust in Him; as God knows the plan He has for them.

“For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”. – Jeremiah 29:11

When we talk about our elders having wisdom, it’s not because they were just born smarter than the younger generation. Rather, they have had many years of trials and challenges that they have been able to learn from. They have persevered through these challenges and seen God’s hand at work.

Mark Etting

Author Mark Etting

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