James 1:2-3: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” (NIV)
Bullied on the playground…teased on the bus…picked last for the team in gym class…a failing grade after studying all week. Growing up is hard. People are mean, schoolwork is challenging, friendships are confusing, and bodies are changing fast. One minute they’re little kids excited about the newest videogame and the next they’re debating the virtues of hanging out with their friends past curfew.
Maybe I’m unique in my approach, but I don’t feel my job as a mom is to make life easier for my kids. Do I purposefully want them to have problems with their friends, their grades, mess up regarding chores around the house, or receive natural consequences for leaving their cell phone outside and it rained? No…and Yes.
I don’t sit around and dream up struggles for my kids to experience, and my first response is usually to want to make life easier, not harder for those I love. However, I do believe that they will be more prepared for independence and “real life” if they have the opportunity to experience age-appropriate challenges under our big safety net. It’s not healthy for me to take my kids’ struggles away from them, but I will be there to help when they ask. A favorite phrase that I like to repeat in our house is, “I’m happy to do for you what you can’t do for yourselves, but if you’re mature enough for a particular job, it’s all yours.”
I believe that’s how God handles His relationship with us. He doesn’t take away all our problems, but He’s right there, handling the stuff that’s too big for us, watching, and holding out a safety net for the others. The struggles that we face help us develop the character we need to fulfill His purpose in our life. If God always stepped in and rescued us, we would be nothing but a spoiled, self-centered person who was unwilling and unprepared to step out of our comfort zone and carry out God’s plan.
So, even though my heart hurts when my kids face struggles and age appropriate disappointments, part of me is grateful that they are experiencing some of that while they have my arms to run into at the end of their day. Growing up is never easy, but I think adulthood can be a little less of a shock if childhood provides some practice in solving life’s dilemmas.