Monday, August 22, 2011
“…and let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” - James 1:4
When things break, we all like to fix them with the least amount of “collateral damage” possible. In other words, we don't want any remaining reminders of the breaking. But many times things change, even after the problem is fixed. That’s God’s ultimate purpose as He takes us through trials- to make us into more than we were before. That’s his plan for our kids also. But usually, we resist the change. We’d struggle less if we knew the benefits of the change.
Like many homes, we have two refrigerators in the Staples house, the newer one in the kitchen and the older one in the garage. I noticed the ice cream in the kitchen freezer getting soft and knew we had a problem. As always, I attempted to fix it myself. The Internet said to clean the coils underneath the refrigerator, which I did, but it made no difference. I called a repairman, but it took a couple of days for him to come to the rescue. In the meantime, I laid hands on it, I shook it, I talked to it and I even dreamed that I’d woken up and it was fixed!
But denial didn't work. It never does. The fact was that the refrigerator was broken and I couldn't fix it, period. I needed to ask for help.
We watched the movie “Soul Surfer” last week, the true story about a champion surfer who loses an arm to a shark but gains a stronger faith. In one scene, just home from the hospital, her parents are dealing with their daughter’s difficulty. Dad comments, “if she doesn't get back on a surf board, she will never be the same.” Mom responds, “Honey, she will never be the same.”
Surfing again or not, their daughter was changed. As parents, we want to keep our kids in a mold of comfort and ease. We don't want things to change, even though we know, intuitively, that they need to change. So, too often, we jump in the fix this and fix that. Intuitively, we attempt to fix problems to produce as small a consequence as possible.
But sometimes our kids need to live with the damage. Sometimes, the process of the trial and the scares left behind teaches our kids more than we realize. Sometimes, the lessons learned are stored away for our kids to use as they encounter trials later on in their lives.
The repairman finally came and I watched as he tested, diagnosed and fixed the refrigerator. He commented, “feel free to ask questions as I do the repairs.” I did and I learned a ton. He showed me the timer, thermostat, sensor and heater coils. When it goes out again (not soon I hope), I think I could fix it- maybe.
Isn't that our goal as parents? Not to solve our kids problems, but to teach them how to solve their own problems. When their refrigerators break, we want them to have the tools and knowledge necessary to make the fix. We also want them to be willing to ask for help. We want the trials to teach them and to have their “perfect result.” We need to remember that none of that happens when we jump in to make the quick fix.
We need to pray for discernment to know when to step in and appropriately help our kids and when to back off and let them hurt a little and learn. Even if we’re to jump in, we need to remember to teach them.
Then, when the refrigerator goes out, they’ll be able to make the repairs.
By Eric Joseph Staples ©