One spring day in San Diego, I took the boys on a choose-your-own adventure walk. They took their scooters and a nickel. Every time we came to a fork in the road, they flipped their coin: heads to the right, tails to the left. They were excited about the prospect and eager to see where we would end up.
The first time we did this kind of walk, our coin flips took us up the hill into the nice neighborhoods. The next time, we found ourselves in the more industrial part of town, on busy streets near big name stores. Henry was gleeful about all the unexpected twists and turns in our journey. William enjoyed the walk, but was a bit more uncomfortable with the uncertainty, preferring to stay on our well-established paths. William is a lot like me – he finds comfort in routine, and he enjoys the predictable and familiar. Henry is more like his dad – choosing novelty, taking joy in the unknown, willing to take bigger risks for bigger payoffs.
Uncertain times make for stressful decisions
Our adventure walks remind me of all the uncertainty in the air these days. We are faced with big choices this summer in terms of our kids going back to school. Schools have made difficult decisions about how they will reopen and now parents everywhere are considering alternatives. Some families are choosing to homeschool for the first time, some are choosing online learning, other families don’t have the luxury of choice.
These decisions are stressful because we’d like to see what turns are in the road ahead, what consequences (good or bad) our choices will have. We worry about how our schooling decisions will impact our kids’ social development, physical and mental health, and academic performance. I, too, have wrestled with this anxiety.
But I think again of our adventure walk earlier this spring. One of the reasons the kids enjoyed it is because no matter which way we turned, they knew I would still be with them. They wouldn’t end up lost or abandoned. They might find themselves in unfamiliar territory, but they always trusted me to know the way home.
God is bigger than our decisions
As parents, we so often feel like we are solely responsible for the well-being of our children. Sometimes we forget that they belong to God even as they are in our care. When we are faced with situations we can’t control – like schooling options during a pandemic – we would do well to remember that we serve a God who is in control (and who loves us more fiercely than we love our own children!) Our God sees the road ahead and no matter how we flip our coin or which way we turn, he is right there with us.
When I thought "my foot slips," your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up. When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul. (Psalm 94:18-19)
If your cares are many in these uncertain days, I would encourage you to turn to God for consolation. If you feel paralyzed with indecision, rest assured that God’s steadfast love will hold you up. And borrow the words from this beautiful prayer, which I found in the pages of Ruth Haley Barton’s Invitation to Solitude and Silence:
Gather Me to Be With You
O God, gather me now
to be with you
as you are with me.
Soothe my tiredness;
quiet my fretfulness;
curb my aimlessness;
relieve my compulsiveness;
let me be easy for a moment.
O Lord, release me
from the fears and guilts
which grip me so tightly;
from the expectations and opinions
which I so tightly grip,
that I may be open
to receiving what you give,
to risking something genuinely new,
to learning something refreshingly different.
O God, gather me
to be with you
as you are with me.
– Ted Loder, Guerillas of Grace