Your Fear, Their Limitations

Posted: April 3, 2013 in Resources
Tags: , , ,

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No Fear (well a little)

A couple summers ago, the family and I decided that we would spend the entire summer doing new things.  We live in the Chicagoland area, and hear of all of the “new and exciting” things that tourist do when they come in town, but we (who live here) have never even heard of them.  This summer would be different.  We were tired of the same ole, same ole.  We were going to be intentional about exposing our family to things that would add culture, awareness, and excitement!

Sometimes we get into a set routine and we call in tradition.  We are ok with tradition, because they can create lasting memories.  However, we do not want to be a slave to them.  Being open and doing new things keeps the relationship fresh and even provides a platform for which your children can thrive based on them being exposed.  Our theory, try everything once.  You never know if God has gifted you to be the greatest of all times if you never try it.

Well, we did not realize that we were about to be tested.  After making our declaration of “this will be a summer of new things” we received a call from the parents’ of our son’s classmates.  They invited us to go out on their boat for a weekend of water sports; skiing, tubing, snorkeling, etc.  We like water, but not enough to spend the weekend doing it.  Besides, our son has been in swim class for the past 5 weeks and has not let go of the side of the pool yet!  That was only about 2 feet of water, so we can only imagine how he would be in Lake Michigan!

We debated for a few hours.  They are such nice people…always considering Micah, because he and their son are buddies.  They have invited our son to spend the night at their home; they took him to musicals, plays, horseback riding, pottery making, etc., and now a weekend of water sports.  Again, we said, they always consider our family, but we had never spent a significant amount of time with them in a confined space, will it be awkward?

Then it hit us.  We had just declared that this would be a summer of new things.  We had never been on Lake Michigan, especially with the purpose of doing watersports!  It was also at least one night away from home in a hotel, which is always fun for our family!  Let’s Do It!!!

Everything was great!  We were having a great time.  We stopped by the Indiana Sand Dunes, docked and had lunch on the boat.  Many families were out that day, enjoying the unusually warm water.  The sky was a radiant blue, without a cloud in site.  Perfect.

Our son had watched his friend and siblings water ski and tube like pros.  We asked him if he wanted to try and he shouted, “NO!.”  We asked again, but he was emphatic about not having a turn, so we stopped asking.  Silently, I realized that I was actually happy that he had said that he did not want a turn. As I looked out at ALL OF THAT WATER, I was reminded of him holding on to the swimming instructor for dear life, just a few days before.  He barely knew how to hold his breath under water and I was asking him to strap to the back of a boat, sit in a tube and be pulled in the wake of a boat at X number of miles per hours (or knots cause we are on water).  Whew…I am so glad he said no.  Then I heard it, “I want to do it”  As I turned my head around slowly, hoping that it was not his voice I just heard, trying to now put a smile on my face so that I would not appear to be as afraid as I was. Then he said it again…”I want to do it!”  We exchanged eye contact as if to say, “you say no and I will agree with you…no you say it.” By this time, they had already started moving our son to the back of the boat, instructing him and preparing him to step out of the boat into the tub.

So many things raced through my mind…wait, we are the parents and we must protect him!  We cannot let him try something NEW!  We are scared, fear is taking over, I have to do something.  I stood up and looked him in the eyes and he said, “this is going to be so much fun!!!”  Fun…you do not know what fun is!  As parents, we exchange another look, this time it said, “DO SOMETHING!  This is dangerous!!!  Stop, our son cannot do this!”  But, I hear a statement that calmed me down, “Do not limit him because of your fear.”  Who said that?!?! It was like a voice from heaven Wow…it hit me so hard, but I was still afraid, but had to put my game face on.  I pulled out my phone, because I could not miss this defining moment.  I need camera shots and video (see snap shot above).  This is our summer of new things!!!

Well at this point the roar of the engine was starting.  Our son was getting further and further away as the tension in the line increased.  I attempted to calm myself, “I know how to swim. I will just jump in if something happens.  He has on a life jacket that is designed to keep him a float until I get to him…breath in, breath out.”  They gave an instruction before our son went out, “if you want us to go faster, just give a thumbs up.”  At that moment, I see him give the sign.  “What!  Now you are pushing it homie. No, slow down!”, I thought to myself.  However, the engine purred a little louder as they slightly increased the speed.

Then it happened…My heart seemed to stop.  Our son stands up in the tube, to reposition himself to lie across the top of the tube, while the boat is in full throttle!  I thought, “this boy has lost his mind!”  “Stop the boat” I shouted.  Yeah…words came out that time.  However, due to the wind and the engine, they could not hear me.  “Stop the boat!” I screamed again as my head turn vigorously to look at them and back at my son.  They kept going.  After a few seconds, I realized that he was ok, but the fact that he was now laying across the tube instead of securely sitting down in it, made me even more uneasy.  “What if we hit a big wave?  He will flip out!” I thought.  Ok, enough is enough.

As I was about to walk over to give tell them to stop the boat, our son finally he gave the signal to stop.  We slowed down and we pulled him back into the boat.  He had the biggest Kool Aid smile on his face.  He had done something new and enjoyed it.

The next week in swim class, he ran to the pool, jumped in and started to move his arms in the way his instructed had been trying to get him to do for weeks now.  I saw her glance at me with the most surprised look ever.  I just shrugged my shoulders because I did not have time to explain.

As I sat and watched him THRIVE in swim class that day, I reflected.  As parents, how many defining moments have we prevented because we are afraid to let our children experience new things?  Our scape goat is to say that we are protecting them, but protecting them from what or who?  I am not saying put your child in harm’s way.  Ultimately, as a parent, we are responsible for ensuring that we are not putting our children in a position where he or she will be injured physically, mentally, or emotionally.  However, I am asking that we consider how an experience could add perspective, enlightenment, self-confidence, in a way that will take them from clutching the neck of the swim instructor to jumping in the pool without fear.  It is possible that our fears and lack of exposure significantly limited their possibilities.  Please understand, for weeks and even months after his tubing experience, every time I watched the video my stomach dropped and I thought, I (we) cannot believe we let him do that!?!?!?  Now…he wants to swim any chance that he gets.

As parents, it is our obligation to discern who God has created our children to be, and then help them become.  When our focus is on what they will become, I believe that we become blinded and narrow minded, therefore, missing the moments that could shape, mold, and prepare them for who they are supposed to be.

We learned a valuable lesson that day…guide him, but do not steer; push, but not too hard; pray, but do not limit.  This experience had the potential to go oh so wrong, which is what we used to base most of our decisions on.  Usually, the worst that could happen never does.  Instead, we now consider the worst, then pray and prepare for the best.  Our default button is no longer set on “what’s the worst that could happen” but now, it is “consider the possibilities.”

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