Recently my husband and son had the opportunity to fly to Minnesota and watch their beloved Minnesota Viking tumble the Saints in a Monday night game. My husband is a Minnesota native and pieces of his purple heritage remain long after Washington became his home.
This trip was most certainly a rare treat.
It’s not easy being a Vikings fan in Washington state. Seahawks fans are loud and proud so we cheer quietly and wear the lonely purple mostly inside our own home. But to catch a home game in the new stadium, a special trip for just a dad and his 12 year old boy? The excitement was palpable for these two.
Being the responsible homeschool mother that I am, I tried to plan ahead for missed days of school work. My seventh grader’s school load is quite demanding this year and I wanted to plan carefully to make it all fit quite well.
To top it off, I would be out of town for several days as soon as they returned home. Shuffling the schedules would require discipline and diligence in order to keep up.
I have strong taskmaster tendencies. I’m all about discipline and diligence. So I warned my son in advance.
The next week or so is going to be a little crazy. We’ll need to work hard on the front-end and the back-end to keep up. You’ll have several days off school but we really need to focus with the days we have.
He nodded a quiet confirmation and I set to strategizing how we would best make this work.
The days leading up to their trip were filled with errands and countdowns. The entire family was excited for them. But a couple days before the trip, alone with my boy in the car, I noticed he seemed rather quiet.
I asked him what was on him mind. “Minnesota”, was his simple reply.
“Are you nervous?” I asked him.
“No, not really. Just a little worried that I still have so much school work to do before I leave and then I will have a ton more waiting for me when I get back.”
Oh, that. My strategizing and planning, my responsible warning, became a raincloud brewing a storm for him.
Here son. Here is a once in a lifetime trip to make some memories with your dad, served up with a side of guilt and stress to go with it. Welcome to real life.
Is that really what I was serving him?
Wanting to raise responsible human beings is sometimes tricky in application. Clearly, I’ve not mastered it. I want to offer my kids the joy of experience, the freedom of learning, of trying, of failing even. But there is a part of me that wants to, needs to, temper that all with reality. The work still has to get done. Consequences are real, right?
Can I get it all done? Will I be able to keep up? It feels like too much. The knot starts churning in my stomach; the tension is physical.
“Oh, buddy,” I tell him. “I know that feeling well. God doesn’t require us to be awesome, I promise. That is never our goal. Our goal is simply faithfulness. So we’ll be faithful today and tomorrow. We’ll be faithful when you get home. And no matter what your mom had planned or scheduled or hoped you would get done – it will be enough. Faithfulness is always enough.”
The grace that I’m learning in my own life pours right on out to the 12 year old beside me. Faithfulness. It still requires us to show up and do the work, but it ignores the outcomes, the benchmarks, and trusts Him with whole mess of it. The whole mess of us.
Once again I’m here teaching and parenting when I’m only about half an inch ahead of these kids. But I’m slowly learning I wouldn’t want it any other way. Grace never becomes stagnant when you are grasping for it just as quickly as you are pouring it out; when you are breathing it in just as steadily as breathing it out.
So we’ll keep learning this together. Bravely.
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