Start children off on the way they should go,
and even when they are old they will not turn from it. ~ Proverbs 22:6
I’m sorry, but yes they will.
Some will step off accidentally and stumble right back on.
Some will wander off, oblivious to your calls and whistles.
Some will investigate that very pretty flower over there.
And some will test the boundaries every step of the way.
They most certainly will venture from it. It’s how they find their own way along a path with distinct boundaries but invisible guardrails. Kids are a distractable lot and tweens and teens are a naturally inquisitive bunch. Perhaps this is why we are advised to “start children off on the way they should go.” Children pay attention; they’re sponges for everything they see and hear.
One Sunday past, I sat behind Carly, a young mom, cradling her infant in a front pack. Her 2 year old son, Avery, stood next to her on the fabric seat of the pew. Grandpa had brought him in, but he wasn’t holding Avery’s hand. This boy was perfectly balanced; he was an experienced pew-stander. He demanded I shake his hand when the time for greeting was announced and then he remained standing for the anthem that was to follow.
Little Avery’s face just glowed with anticipation. Before the first chord, his happy voice rang out, “Hi Daddy! Hi Daddy!” Smiles on several faces looked his way, but Dad was focused on the music and its message. Avery’s dad Josh sang,
I believe in God our Father
I believe in Christ the Son
I believe in the Holy Spirit
Our God is three in one
I believe in the resurrection
That we will rise again
For I believe in the name of Jesus…
Hi Daddy! Hi Daddy!, sang Avery.
The promise we make to the children of our church upon the occasion of their baptism is this: “With God’s help, we will so order our lives after the example of Christ that these children, surrounded by steadfast love, may be established in the faith, and confirmed and strengthened in the way that leads to life eternal.”
Start children off on the way they should go, and …
…. even though they may wander and explore and adventure on their way, …
when they are old they will not turn from it. ~ Proverbs 22:6 (with my additions)
Oh, children… how wonderful it is to teach them. How magnificent it is to learn from them.
We let go of Mommy’s hand to enter pre-school.
We let go of Daddy’s hug to board the bus.
We let go of our beloved teacher’s smile
only to do it again next year because we must.
We let go of the hand of the principal
as she wishes us well on our way.
We let go of our first boss’s hand
who understands why we can’t stay.
We let go of the friend who moves away
or the paw of our beloved pet.
We let go of our great, great grandmother
who it seems we had hardly met.
We let go of the neighboring couple
who were never home anyway,
We let go of our causes, however just.
And, so reluctantly, the years that were promised us.
We let go, bit by little bit,
of our children, so full of fun.
We may let go way, way too soon
of a mother, father, brother, son.
Letting go is a way of life it seems,
that none can hope to avoid.
It’s a holding and releasing –
not to re-fill the vacant void.
But to pivot on our out-stretched hand
which holds fast, so high and strong,
To the bar which secures it surely
until we deftly swing along.
Strange to say, we were preparing
for a life of loss and sad goodbye,
As tiny children, on the monkey bars
of playgrounds far and wide.
Where Mommy took us,
and Daddy held us,
where teacher wrapped our blistered hands.
Where principal scolded us,
and boss emboldened us,
when the time came for grown up lands.
I’m so grateful for the happy hours
I spent swinging from bar to bar.
A blessed assurance that every hand-hold,
has its limit
and every pivot
invites my reaching
for exactly where You are.