Sometimes, if I’m being perfectly honest with my mama-self, I want to buy the world’s largest coil of bubble-wrap from the local LOWE’S and use it to safely wrap my children.
I want to wrap their bodies, their emotions, their minds, their souls, their beliefs, their ideas, their strengths, their weaknesses, their feelings, their dreams…their EVERYTHING.
Safely and securely, I want to ensure that their environment is…well…uh…perfectly protected.
I want to wrap ’em because I want to control the good that comes in, and I want to control the bad that threatens to take them by surprise.
I want to wrap ’em because I want to shield them from all the harm, and all the hard, and all the heresy.
I want to wrap ’em because I desperately love them and have fallen into the distorted belief that my controlled bubble wrap environment is the VERY best for their good and their growth.
So why am I thinking about all of this bubble wrap protection?
Because Caden starts soccer practice tonight, and my mama-fears have been firing on all cylinders.
What if Caden’s soccer coach is rough or abrasive with his words?
What if Caden isn’t included?
What if Caden is the only boy on the team who is introverted?
What if Caden learns a bunch of inappropriate vocabulary?
What if Caden sucks his thumb and gets made fun of?
What if Caden does that weird thing with his tongue when he gets nervous?
What if Caden stinks at soccer?
What if Caden realizes that he stinks at soccer?
What if Caden gets ticked off and screams at some kid who then punches him in the face and busts out a tooth?!?!?!
What if I can’t protect him from THIS, and THAT, and THEM???
And do you know what the hard-fast reality is?
And when I know I can’t, it makes me fearful.
And when I get fearful, I want to run for that big ‘ol coil of bubble wrap and take matters into my own mama-scheming, mama-controlling hands.
And as I’ve thought about these fears that have reared their unhelpful and ridiculous heads in the past few weeks, I am left with the following realization:
Though it’s great that I love my kids and want to protect them (that’s part of our mama duties), I take on an unhelpful, unfair, and ungodly role when I believe that I have the power to keep their lives “perfectly protected.”
The truth is…
I can’t protect them from the ugly words and the harsh tones;
I can’t protect them from their insecurities and their temptations;
I can’t protect them from personal rejection and athletic weaknesses;
I can’t protect them from themselves and others; and
I can’t protect them from ungodly ideas and worldly desires IF…
I am going to let them live apart from me and outside our home.
Now I’m not suggesting (not even for one, hot minute) that we should throw up our parenting hands while simultaneously throwing our children to the wiles of the world because we have adopted a nihilistic approach to our role as parenting shepherds. NOT. AT. ALL.
HOWEVER, I am suggesting that if we are going to truly love our children well and prepare them for life outside our insulated walls, then we can’t bubble wrap’em NOW.
In fact, I believe that if we are going to adequately prepare these souls, then we have to push against our tendency to elevate PROTECTION as our #1 goal.
So what does that mean?
It means that we must take advantage of the ripe window of opportunities that we have, as parents, to help our children navigate the world while under our wings.
And THAT role is a heap harder and less black and white than finding a large coil of bubble wrap.
It means that as we let them live outside our arms, they will be exposed to people, places, and predicaments that we might not prefer and certainly wouldn’t deem as “perfectly perfect.”
It means that instead of eliminating the hard, we have the opportunity to help them work through the hard.
It means that instead of shielding them from the hurt, we have the opportunity to help them process the hurt.
It means that instead of protecting them from the heresy, we have the opportunity to help them sort through the heresy.
It means that instead of bubble wrapping ’em, we have the unique opportunity to help them solidify their beliefs, identify their struggles, crucify their flesh, and purify their souls WITHIN the world.
It means that instead of protecting our children from all harms and all hard, we are partnering with God to parent children who (by His grace and through His power) have learned how to be the LIGHT that penetrates the darkness.
And it means that though we, as parents, play a vital role in shepherding our children, our best efforts to parent might be best spent in prayer, begging the GOOD SHEPHERD to take control as He guide His lambs (both the little and the big) through the dark valleys and unknown pastures.