"Train a child in the way he/she should go, and when he is old he/she will not turn from it." --Proverbs 22:6 (NIV)
I understand the meaning behind this verse, and I know it has nothing to do with the example I am choosing to compare it to today but, I plan to tie it all together in the end... bare with me.
We visited Las Vegas many years ago when the kids were was very young. I know, you are probably thinking what parent takes their children (especially their young children) to Las Vegas for a family vacation? Well, before you start calling children services we have family who live in Vegas and we were there visiting. We did have to dodge a few gentleman (if you can call them that) trying to hand out nude flyer's to Greg (while he was walking with his children and holding his wife's hand) to try to entice him to visit one of their "girlie" places. But other than that we found many places that were very child and family friendly. Since then Vegas has gotten even better in accommodating families. Not that you still can't find the other stuff, but it isn't in your face as much.
One of the child friendly places we visited was an indoor amusement park......Adventure Dome or something like that.... I don't remember the name. The kids rode rides, ate cotton candy and it was all air conditioned which is a big deal in Vegas. I couldn't imagine walking around in an amusement park in that heat. I know, I know... it is a DRY heat.... but hot just the same.
In this particular indoor amusement park was a climbing wall. We stood and watched others climb the wall for a while and then looked down at Leslie (who was the only one old enough to climb out of the two) and said "Why don't you give it a try?" She first said no, then said yes, then said no, then said "OK, but I don't know if I can get to the top". "Oh honey, you don't have to get to the top, just have fun climbing" was our reply.
We stood in line and waited our turn. They put the harness on her which was really big and it took them nearly 10 minutes just to make it snug enough for her to use it. They explained to her the hand signals and what to do when she wanted to come down then off she went. She was so little and her legs and arms were shaking but dog gone it she was gonna make it to the top. Once I saw her climbing and climbing and getting higher and higher I started to second guess our suggestion for this wall.
Long story short, she made it all the way to the top and rang the bell. The instructor said not many children her age (6) make it up that far. She came back down with a smile on her face and was so proud. We were amazed and proud as well, but happy to see her with both feet on the ground again.
They arrived back home, after spending the afternoon with our neighbors, and all were excited to tell us about Leslie's adventure. Apparently there was a climbing wall in the middle of the mall and Leslie was drawn to it. Our neighbors paid for her to climb and were amazed at her skill and ability. They purchased a picture for her to remember their time together.
Fast forward several more years and this is where we are today......
Leslie is now a member of Urban Krag, a wall climbing facility in Dayton. It is a converted 140 year old church with 8000 square feet of climbable walls. She is climbing certified, climbing advanced walls and owns her own climbing powder. I have heard her say she can't wait to climb REAL rocks and cliffs. What? That was NOT the deal when we suggested she climb a wall when she was six in Vegas.
She also wants to sky dive... who is this child and where is her mother? I am petrified of heights and can barely survive a plane ride where the doors remain closed and I am buckled in. Her father is a dare devil more that I, but he wouldn't voluntarily jump out of an airplane either.
Parents have to give permission to sky dive for students under the age of 18, which we will not do, so she said on her 18th birthday she is going sky diving with her grandfather (my dad, who has had a gift certificate to sky dive for years now and has not cashed it in). Lord help us.
I personally hope this is just a phase. How can a child who is quiet, and reserved and so serious at times her parents have to tell her to lighten up want to live life on the edge?
Greg has been to Urban Krag with Leslie, I have not. I did get certified at our local Rec Center to climb their wall. From what I have heard it is not the same, but it is a start for me.
After climbing this wall to receive my certification I noticed similarities between rock climbing and my christian walk.
First, I always need to keep my eyes looking upward, never look down. I looked down once to see if my foot could reach a certain nub on the wall and so wished I hadn't. Same goes with my walk with God. When I am facing trials in my life I need to stay focused and keep looking to Him, when I look down or back I only stumble or get weak.
Secondly, each step I take I need to make sure it is a steady move. Will I have the strength to hold on to that tiny nub? If I reach my hand up to grab that nub will my feet find a place to grab too? So many times in my life I have reacted before thinking about the consequences. Is this a good move for me? Is it glorifying to God? Once I make this move do I have the strength to endure where I am?
Thirdly, with each step I take I need to take it with confidence and strength. When you are climbing a wall, and you are nearing the top, many times the little nubs (that is what I call them) get smaller and further apart. You can't "kinda" make a move when you are in this situation. You have to leap with confidence and make it happen. You have to decide which direction to go in, or which path to take and then once that has been decided you need to move. Otherwise you will hang there, start to look down, get nervous and eventually get so weak you will fall.
I struggle with this in my life. I lack confidence and I second guess myself a lot. I need to remember that I am a child of God and "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" Phillipians 4:13. I need to put my best foot forward and stop panicking about all the "what ifs". If I continue to get nervous over each move in my life I will either A. become weak and fall or B. never move and just hang there becoming stagnant in my never changing life. I really don't want either.
When the climb got hard and I felt as if I could fall I reminded myself of 3 things...... 1.I was wearing a safety harness, 2.I had a person belaying me who is trained and wouldn't let me drop to my death and 3. I had a soft mat below me. I didn't want to fall, and you better believe I was doing my best NOT to fall, but if I did I wouldn't die.
I need to also remember when things are hard and scary in life that I have a safety harness in my Heavenly Father. He is there to catch me, brush me off and get me back on track again. He won't let me fall to my death. He has already shown me through the death of His son that he loves me enough to give me eternal life with Him in heaven.
I was asked to go climbing by a friend of mine who is calling the month of September The Month of Firsts. She was recently divorced and this month is all about finding who she is and what she wants out of life. I actually went to support her because I am proud of the steps she is taking, but I had fun and am glad I went. Next time shouldn't be as scary right?
So, back to the Proverb in the beginning. I believe wholeheartedly in this verse. Many of our decisions in life have been based on this verse. We have made choices as parents to shelter our kids from certain elements of this world. As they get older they are exposed to these elements and are faced with making choices for themselves. If these elements had been introduced at a young age, or if these elements had been a part of our lives and in our homes then we might have run the chance of our children not making the wise choice now.
Little eyes are always watching. They watch how you treat an elderly person at the grocery store. They watch how you handle a person cutting you off on the road. They watch when you help a neighbor in need. They watch how you speak to your spouse and your friends.
It amazes me how much our actions have molded our children into being the person they are today. If I am nervous or unsure of something then they are nervous and unsure of the same thing (except rock climbing apparently). If I have an opinion about something and share it openly with our kids they tend to have the same opinion. Some of it is good, some of it is not so good. We are not perfect obviously.
I see them doing and saying things every day that we did not teach them. Again, most of it good, but not all of it. Attitudes need adjusted at times, selfishness needs curbed, thoughtfulness has to be encouraged. I need to turn to my Heavenly Father for the same reason. I know my attitude still needs adjusted, my selfishness still needs curbed, and I need to be more thoughtful and grateful at times.
So, back to the original thought of this post.... be careful what you suggest or what you expose your children to at an early age because it could and very well come back to bite you.
Soon our children will have to stand on their own two feet and choose which path they will take in life. My prayer is this verse will then be alive in our children. They will remember the path they were guided down early in life and will continue to follow that path.
I have a job interview today and it is my first interview in 16 years. This interview will be a much harder wall to climb for me. Climbing upward with my eyes up, my safety harness on, and leaping with faith and confidence.... bring it on! :)