Free to Fail

There are a few things I feel like I have done well as a mother. My children have been indoctrinated with a love of Newbery and Caldecott Medal winners. Eli has been eagerly asking me (more like demanding) that I put on the “Old Howler” CDs in the car. They giggle out loud as they hear the stories that I so adored as child like A Wrinkle in Time, A Cricket in Time Square, and Old Yeller. They are filled with great hypotheses for groundbreaking science experiments like gold fish in water/juice mixture frozen, finger paints and spices mixed and left in the sun, and so on. And these are things to be proud of.

On the other hand, there are some glaring gaps in their development that are directly tied to me as a mother. Minor things like tying shoes, riding two-wheeler bikes, and swimming in such a way as to not drown. I have dedicated this summer to making some headway in these arenas. I am happy to report that we are making progress; but more so, I have been making progress as I learn from them.

You see, they have inherited from me a terrible fear of failure, a tendency to avoid things that are unknown, uncomfortable or unnatural. Balancing on a piece of rolling metal or floating on top of water or making shoelaces do unnatural loops and bows, these are the land of the unfamiliar to them. And rightfully so. One does not just conquer these mountains without intentionality and concerted effort (and some grass stains and a little water up the nose).

So we have been carving out time and space in our lives and schedules to tackle these childhood mountains. It has been a great joy to head to the grassy dog park in our neighborhood to practice the precarious art of bike riding. There were so many falls and tears, but also these incredible moments of joy. Watching Ty and Eli fall down in tangled messes of scrawny legs and chains but then bounce right back up again, ready to try again, I learned a lot.

I saw a determination in them that is all-too-often foreign in me. They laughed most of the falls off, proud of the few feet of progress made from the ride before. I saw in them an unashamed need for encouragement and affirmation, as I ran alongside them, clapping and cheering and what not.

You see, they knew it was safe to fail. Eli even said, After a particularly abrupt fall, Eli even said, “The grass is such a cozy place to land.” They knew their parents were right there, ready to coach them and give them the next helpful hint. They knew we wouldn’t be asking them to learn this skill if it weren’t for their greater good and enjoyment.

There are so many mountains in my life, mostly mountains inside of me, that I am afraid to conquer; so many interests that I shy away from for fear of failing.

Oh, that I would learn from these boys, to fail and get back up. That I would know that I have the Heavenly Father who stands ahead of me, the Son who intercedes for me, the Spirit who runs alongside me, urging me on. That we would know that there is joy to be had in learning new things, in stepping out in faith.

Oh, that we would know that His perfect grace and love is the softest, sweetest place to land from any fall.

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