I have suspicion. I suspect that we've done something in parenting that is robbing our kids of the ability to figure stuff out. I catch myself trying to give my kids a Nerf childhood. I don't mean one with those cool guns that shoot foam darts. I mean one that has them wrapped in the protective foam of my presence, protection, and wisdom. All the time. To keep them from ... well, everything. Problem with that Lego? Allow me. Your brother bothering you? Allow me to interject myself. You want to make a sandwich? Put that down and let me do it. You're just 9, for goodness sake.
And, I'm sure I'm not the only one.
In fact, I know I'm not, because every time I take my kids to the park, the playground, or any place populated with parents who've drank the same over-involved water that I have, I can spot them. Legitimate fear fills their face when Johnny approaches the slides. Terror when Susie puts the same hand she just touched the sand with in her mouth. But what are we teaching the kiddies when we do this?
That we love them? That we're there for them? Maybe.
Or, maybe that they're stupid? They can't do anything on their own? They should expect their lives to be free of experience, pain, and learning through failure? Maybe that, too.
But is this how God treats us? Is this what God has done for us? It seems not. It seems like He has given us at least two kinds of teachers — Himself, and our experiences of obeying him — and pain, along with the experience of disobeying him. No Nerf childhood for us. The world he made for us is filled with bruises, bumps, falls, and failings.
And yet, do any of us doubt that He loves us? I mean, really? Of course not, because only this God has come out from behind the protection of Heaven and gotten dirty. Only the God we meet in the face of Jesus has felt great, hot tears roll down his cheeks. Only the God we feel embraced in Jesus arms has had those same arms stretched wide in pain, so we know he knows when we run into them.
God has, in his sovereignty, ordered the world to force us to figure stuff out. How to build things, ask a girl on a date, try to plant a church, or just build a sandcastle on the beach. By grace, he's catching us up in the adventure of figuring things out. He's there, mysteriously working in us so that we can will to work for him. And, he's there when we don't, and we scrape our knees against the hard realities of sin and pain.
Oh that Jesus would remind me to let my kids figure it out — how to handle relationships, move past frustrations, learn why untied laces and bikes don't mix. The world he made is a great teacher. I'll be there, of course, just like he is for me, even as I'm here, trying to figure this whole parenting thing out.