One chilly morning, I happened upon this guy.
Whether or not a worm is capable of making decisions is unknown to me, but at some point he opted to cross a stretch of pavement instead of staying in his safe, shady, and grassy home. From my vantage point on high and my life experience, I know this is a very bad idea. His path will be fraught with danger – humans, dogs, or bikes may squish him flat, or his death could come slowly, the sun beating down on him as he inches his way across, his skin tightening until he resembles his crusty, desiccated cousin just down the path a little.
It’s the same with our kids. As soon as they leave our arms and begin to explore the world, they start making choices, some good, some not so good, and some disastrous. Again, our wisdom and knowledge of life prompts us to guide them, to divert their attention or stop them from doing things because we know the potential consequences of their actions. As they get older, we explain more, tell them the why, and what we think might happen. They don’t always appreciate it, this seemingly constant denial of permission, this narrow mindedness that they perceive as simply us using our power to keep them from having any fun. Or they may not believe that we do have this purported knowledge, how could we possibly know what they are thinking or feeling?
As parents of teens and young adults, we ease up a little, allow them to be more autonomous, (hopefully) let them experience some consequences of their choices. Since they are no longer in our sight at all times, we may not even be aware of what they are choosing, or we’re in denial about it; surely my kid wouldn’t skip school, do drugs, get drunk, have sex, steal, or harm another person. When we do see them taking one of these bad paths, we’re distraught, we know what might happen and we want to spare them the pain of what these choices may bring. And we’d also prefer that they not do anything to embarrass us, of course. Even though they know a lot, they don’t know what we know and don’t always believe it or appreciate our attempts to guide them.
As adults we make lots of decisions, lots of choices, and for most of us, are accountable for what happens as a result. Some people have become adept at avoiding those consequences, but that’s a different blog post! Typically this goes one of two ways for me – I’m super confident about what decision is the right one and do it quickly and easily, or I’m completely clueless and wish I knew the outcome of each option so I would know what to do.
Sometimes I wonder as God is watching over me, if he hurts the way I’ve hurt as a parent, grandparent, friend, child, and co-worker when I see someone I care about making a poor choice. Does he roll his eyes, when I do the wrong thing, even when I know what is right? Does he utter, “Are you kidding me right now, that’s what you’re going to do?” Does he weep when he knows the pain I’m going to experience? Does he long to take me in his arms and make it all better? Or does he know that the broken road was one that I had to travel to learn to rely on him?
Enabling is one of my gifts so I picked up that poor, misguided worm and put him back in the grass, hopefully allowing him to continue to live a good wormy life. He probably won’t think to appreciate it and may even try to cross the path again. Let’s hope that I am smarter than the worm, that whatever path I happen to take, I remember to be thankful in the good and bad, that I appreciate all the blessings I’ve been given, and that I’m not alone when it’s a bumpy one.