At seven years old Ben started out this summer completely petrified of the waves. He would scream, jump on me, and hold on so tight that he was completely oblivious to the fact that he was going to pull both of us under. This wasn’t going to be a workable solution to his fear so we started teaching him to simply ‘find his feet.’ We reassured him that we were there and would help him if he was really in trouble but that most of the time if he just put his feet back on the ground he would be able to take care of it himself. Whenever a wave was bigger than he expected, or if he lost his footing we would remind him, “I’m right here. Just find your feet Ben.” Yesterday we were at Good Harbor and the waves were the biggest I have ever seen them. Ben and I were standing closer to shore watching G as he was walking farther and farther out. I was fighting the urge to run after him and give him all of the reasons why this was just too dangerous. “The water is too deep out there! You can’t even see anything past the wave! You don’t know what’s coming next!” All of these plus so many more were shouting inside my head. At just that moment Ben yells out, “G! Don’t forget! Find your feet!”
I suddenly felt like the whole force of those waves had hit straight on and knocked the wind right out of me. I blinked back tears as I confronted the truth that this is exactly what I feel like watching my two oldest sons at this stage of life. They are developing opinions and starting to consider all of the choices they have.They are making decisions that will begin to set the course of the rest of their life. And I sometimes feel like I am watching them run headfirst into the waves. Like they can’t see what will come next. Like they might get knocked over. I want to spare them the feeling of going under that I had so often in my early adulthood. I want to tell them to just come back in. Truthfully, I want to tell them what to do. I want to set their course. But instead of them pulling me under in their fear, it will be me who drowns both of us in mine. I know that instead I must trust that the foundation we have been building will not shift like the sand does so easily under the waves. I must trust even when it seems like it is shifting. I must trust that God has better plans for them than I do. I must watch as they figure out how to follow Him for themselves. Not for me. I must watch as they find their feet.
“The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.” Proverbs 16:9