It is the first day of school in our new little town. I just returned from dropping the kids off at their new schools, with new teachers, and soon-to-be new friends. Leaving the car one by one were three kids with three very different perspectives on the day. One absolutely loves school and is a total optimist when it comes to school and learning. She set out full of massive amounts of nervous, excited energy. I have no doubt that she has already made a friend and told her teacher everything about the latest book she is reading.
The other two have different battles to face. One in middle school, one in high school, and both full of hormones and unpredictable emotions. They have real concerns about how they look, who they'll eat lunch with, and if they'll remember where their classes are.
One of my kiddos has been plagued with anxiety ever since we moved to Michigan two and a half years ago. You would never know it if you encountered him in a variety of contexts. You would see confidence, humor, and even a little arrogance, but the first day of school brings out a beast like none other. Anxiety is a terrible thing and I watch it take every piece of confidence out of this amazing kid. It breaks my heart. He cries. (He's even thrown up more than once.) Then I trust the people at the new school once again to take care of my kid as I drive away . . . in tears. I keep my phone on me, hoping and praying that I don't receive a call from the school.
As much as I communicate with the school and trust the office, teachers, and counselors to take care of my child and do what's best for him, there is a bigger trust for me. I am choosing to entrust my kiddo, his growth, and his future to Almighty God.
He sees. He knows. He cares.
Just as the difficulties in my life are working, pruning, and developing character in me, God is growing, strengthening, developing, and creating an extraordinary story in their lives. As much as it hurts and breaks my heart, I don't want to take this away from my kids. I remember when this anxiety first reared its ugly head in a major way.
It was the first day of school after moving to Michigan. It was April, the day everyone went back to school after spring break, and it was our kids' first day in the new school. It did not go so well. As I talked on the phone with the counselor or sat in the drop-off line praying him out the door and into the school, I just wanted to quit. I wanted to pull him out of school, home-school him, and protect him from the loads of pain he was feeling. Then he survived, learned, grew, and was strengthened in his character. I could see it!
Then that fall when school began it happened again. And the next fall it happened again. And now, here we are at a new school . . . again.
Through my tears, as I write these words, I still believe it is worth it . . . for me and for my precious kiddo. I refuse to rob them of the lessons God wants to teach them. I refuse to control the situation in hopes of avoiding hurt because I will not withhold from this kid all that God has for them. It is through our greatest pains and sorrows where we learn to truly depend on and trust God. I want to learn those lessons for myself and I want my kids to learn those lessons too - even while they're young, especially while they're young.
Parents, do you need to allow your kids to experience the natural pains of life? I'm not talking about throwing them out to a pack of wolves or not standing by their side in full love and support. I am talking about how often we over-protect our kids from hurt or potential hurt because we think that is helping them. Do you need to help them by letting them strengthen their own spiritual muscles?
(I’m Traci, the "Be Extraordinary!" blogger. I share insights that challenge and encourage moms to be the best version of themselves. To me, that’s an extraordinary life! Click HERE to receive blog updates and a free newsletter.)