I’ve been thinking about this a lot. We all want to protect our kids. From anything bad in the world. We want to keep them safe, protect their innocence, and shelter them from any harm. We can put up boundaries so they won’t get hurt and shield them from experiencing pain in life.
We currently have a trampoline, it has no netting or padding. Ya, I know. That’s really scary for many of you moms. I get the looks from the neighborhood moms and I know the danger that awaits. It’s really big and more of a glorified wrestling mat for my boys, but don’t get me wrong, I think it needs to be torn down and thrown on the curb. It’s super old and it actually broke last fall. One of the legs broke away from the top metal part while Boston was jumping and thankfully no one was hurt. Although now the boys constantly tell their neighbor friends that Boston is so fat that he broke the trampoline. Yeah, I’m sure we’re going to need some counseling for that one.
So the trampoline has been off limits until one particular day Jett was pouring out crocodile tears saying, “I can’t play basketball with the big boys and I have nothing to do outside without the trampoline.” As he flopped that big curly head onto his knees and curled up into a ball, he created the magic to convince my husband to take action. So, Josh decided to fix the trampoline and as I came home they shouted, “Dad fixed the trampoline!” I was so impressed that he took it upon himself to take the time and effort to figure that out! I thought it was so sweet and thoughtful that he would do that for the boys.
I went to the back yard with a big smile and wide eyes to see the trampoline and there it was. It was fixed. With duck tape. Seriously. I know it’s like a man’s joke to use duck tape for everything, but like, he seriously did. He duck taped the metal pole that was severed from the base and just wrapped that baby up and called it good. He could tell by my reaction that I disapproved and assured me it was fine, as he used a spray adhesive as well. Oh my. He had a very happy bouncing Jett Jett, so I’ll give him an “A” for effort, but I know I’m not winning the safety mom award any time soon.
(For those of you worried for the safety of our children, we are in the process of buying a new trampoline and not testing our luck with the duck taped metal. I hear you.)
As you can imagine, living with boys just elevates the level of danger. And the competition to see who can be more daring or risky is a daily challenge, and never encouraged by me. Ok, I’m a little competitive. And a little risky.
But when did it become so wrong to take risks?
Now I’m not talking about the trampoline. There are definitely safety measures we need to take and boundaries we need to set up for our children. (Like padding and a net:) But what about encouraging our kids to be bold in a situation, even when it might not be the popular thing to do. Or the bravery to dream big, even when failing is a high probability. Do we facilitate this kind of environment for our kids? Do they see us living life cautiously and timid, or bold and courageous. Do they see us living life with a deep love for others, even when at times that can bring us a lot of pain. I know it’s kind of scary, but I think about the kind of generation are we raising if we don’t allow them to experience the uncertainties of life in a safe and healthy way.
I remember when I found out at 20 weeks pregnant that Zion was diagnosed with a fatal disease, I was overwhelmed with my own emotions, feelings, thoughts and everything I was scared of. And then I had 4 precious boys waiting to hear about their baby brother. People asked me how I was going to tell them, what I was going to say, if I should protect them from the painful truth. They were too young to walk through such difficult pain and maybe I should shelter them from the reality of heartache. I could have told them everything was going to be ok, and they had nothing to worry about. I could have stayed behind closed doors when my tears were falling. I could have silenced their difficult questions or told them not to ask. That would have been easier.
But instead, I opened my heart and let them see it beating. I let them see the ache inside because of the love that ran deep. I let them see the questions I had and how they can be answered with the truth of God’s Word. I let them see the doubts that brought me to my knees, desperate for a Savior. I let them see my fears. Very real, scary fears, that compel me to claim His promises daily.
Without acknowledging our reality, we diminish our need for a Savior.
Watching my boys walk through losing their brother, is still a different journey than mine. They had to see their mother cry. A lot. They watched as family and friends surrounded us and carried us when we were too weak on our own. They held their sweetest little Zion in their arms, then the next day said goodbye. Four sweet boys have been through something many of us will never know.
But they are different because of it. They have each walked this journey in their own way. They all have processed this pain differently. One would have eyes locked on Zion, one could not take their eyes off of me. One would talk openly about Zion, even with friends or strangers. One would keep quiet and withdrawn in the midst of conversation. One of them could sense my pain by the look in my eyes, one would carry on with the daily routine without skipping a beat. One would include him in every family counting, one would timidly carry on without his acknowledgement. One would cry along side of me and wipe away my tears. One would remind us all of Heaven and God’s plan.
But through their lose, through their pain, they have learned so much. My boys know what love is and they know God is good and with us through it all. They know life can be hard, but they know family will stay together no matter what. They know prayer is the first answer to every question. They know talking about loss and heartache is hard, but sometimes being open about the tough stuff helps you heal. They know their mom has fears and needs Jesus just as much as they do.
We can shelter our children as much as we want, but there’s a big world out there that they will one day face on their own. I pray that we create a home where they are safe to ask the tough questions and know the freedom in being vulnerable with their reality. I pray we cultivate conversations that allow our children to feel and not just mask the difficult days. I pray for our kids, in this big world, to know there is a truth that never changes even when our circumstances do.
I pray for you, my Tribe. I pray you live bravely and love deeply.