Catch a Wave…

So our oldest son was taking surf lessons this week through the city summer rec program.  From 9am until noon each day this week, he squirmed into a wet suit, lugged a full-size surfboard across the beach, engaged in warm up exercises, and was fairly unceremoniously sent out into the ocean to stand up on a plank of wood careening through the waves.  He was aided in this by 2-3 affable, young, beach-hippie-surfer dudes and dudettes.  They were patient and encouraging.  The eight or so kids that came in and out of the class over the past five days experienced varying degrees of success.

Monday there was one girl in the class who made it to her feet and never looked back.  She seemed born for it.  A natural.  We cheered her on.  But as the days slipped by and she continued to make it look easy while our son struggled to wrangle his board through the break zone and out into the waiting waters to catch a wave, it was hard not to compare.  Hard not to wonder whether our son would make it beyond riding the board in on his knees as Tuesday and Wednesday slipped into Thursday.
We sought to be the Understanding Parents Who Don’t Measure Success By Outcomes But Rather By The Process of Learning Itself.  Some moments it was easier to be those parents.  Other times we just wondered why he hadn’t gotten to his feet yet while that @$#!%! girl did it every five minutes.  
We want things so badly for our kids at times.  We want them to be happy without being foolish.  To hold their baptismal grace with the humble casualness of saints and sinners simultaneously who are still in the throes of learning what that means and looks like in their lives each day.  We want them to be well-liked but not dependent on the opinions of others.  We want them to be strong in their self-confidence without the cockiness that can lead to a disregard of others.  We want them to be obedient but willing and able to ask questions and feel confident that we’re there for them and love them, even if they still have to eat their vegetables and refrain from smacking their siblings.  We want them to be autonomous while retaining a firm understanding of themselves as part of a larger family with all of the blessings and responsibilities that come along with it.  We want them to grow and develop in body and mind and spirit into all that they are capable of, and more than they believe they have the capacity for.  We want them to be willing to try new things, willing to admit when they like something that they thought they wouldn’t, and willing to deal graciously with things that they thought they’d like but really don’t.  
We want a lot of things for our kids.  And this week that included learning to surf.  But as much as we want these things for them, we can’t force them.  Don’t really see the benefit of forcing them, even if we could.  We try to model (imperfectly).  We try to exhort (sporadically).  We sometimes discipline (agonizingly).  But in the end they must come to the realization that we know what we’re talking about and that we have their best in mind even when it doesn’t feel that way to them.  And if they don’t or can’t, then we have to figure out how to love them in the midst of that, adjusting as necessary, never marginalizing the important things while constantly loving them and seeking to suggest to them who they could be, if they’d just let themselves.  
I imagine that these sorts of issues are common to all parents in one way or another.  At least I hope they are.  And I give thanks for those moments of fuzzy clarity where I think I better understand the heart of Our Father who art in heaven.  Better understand His frustration and love with His children.  And better understand the feeling of many of his children so bound in fear and uncertainty that they can’t quite trust or believe what He’s leading them towards, the people He always intended us to be.  
And I imagine briefly the celebration in heaven when one of those children climbs wobbling to their knees, trusting in the presence and strength and encouragement of their Father.  Imperfectly.  Temporarily.  But growing all the same in the process.  Sort of like Alec did this morning, on the last day of class, when he was able to ride three waves in standing up on his surfboard.  

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