I don’t hesitate where my kids’ education is concerned. I will buy any amount of Fancy Nancy or Dick and Jane or Pinkalicious or Star Wars phonic books on Amazon Prime. I will buy any sight word flash cards. ANYTHING to make Evy a strong reader. I have heard since we were married that when Mike moved to South Carolina from Alabama, the South Carolina schools were a year behind. It’s clear that the schools here in Mt. Pleasant are a little further ahead than the schools our kids were at in Florida. When you move to a different school, sometimes you’re ahead and sometimes you’re behind.
Mike and I help them both with their homework and it takes patience to work with either of them. They go too fast and make careless mistakes, or get tired and don’t try, or get frustrated and don’t try, or give up and don’t try, or make excuses and don’t try, or get tired and feel like they can’t try anymore. We give them all the tools and resources and they KNOW they need to learn it. They know they need to practice. They know they need to keep trying. They know there’s no playing indefinite hooky. We’ve explained that very extensively. But it’s hard to learn to read. Its hard to learn multiplication. They both have to practice, practice, practice to catch up and it’s a hard thing not to give the answers to them, not to sound it out for Evy. It’s hard not to give the answers to her, not to sound it out for her. For our children, we would move heaven and earth to do anything for them. There’s nothing more frustrating/heart wrenching/miserable to a parent than not being able to help their children.
As I teach her about walking with Jesus, I told her on Sunday night that you can talk to him any time you want, when you’re frustrated or embarrassed at school, when you’re feeling alone or misunderstood, he can help you. I then told her what so many of us need to here. You’re enough. You’re kind enough. You’re smart enough. You’re enough. She buried her head in my shoulder and began to cry. She needed to hear that. She needed to know we’re always in her corner no matter what and she matters to the great God of the universe. Mostly she needed to know she was loved.
It’s a both/and. God must be so frustrated with us, God’s children, when we don’t learn, when we give up and don’t try. Because obviously we want our children to not only to succeed, but to flourish. The definition of “flourish” is to “grow or develop in a healthy or vigorous way, especially as the result of a particularly favorable environment.” God wants all of us to flourish. God wants the best for us. God wants us to know from the tops of our head to the tips of our toes that we are enough.
But, we have to practice. We have to practice loving people that are different from us. We have to practice taking that extra couple of steps to help someone. We have to practice reaching out as a church to a world that’s hurting and busy beyond their means. We have to practice being salt and light, in the world, but not of it. Just as Evy has to practice her reading and Enoch has to practice his multiplication, we have to practice living as followers of Jesus Christ. Phonic books and flashcards may help, but we have to DO. Knowing and trusting that when we fail, God’s grace is enough. But we have to TRY. Or we’re selling ourselves short and not reaching out and stretching ourselves to be who God created us to be. God wants us to reach our full potential just as we want Enoch and Evy to reach their full potential. How is God calling you to practice your faith? What is God calling you to practice? It sometimes will be hard. You may fall and scrape your knees, but God’s going to be right there when that happens and we as your community will be right there with you to pick you up and dust you off. God doesn’t want us to suffer or struggle. God wants to give us good and abundant gifts, as we as parents, but we and God can’t do it for our children. God gives us the free will to choose how we spend our time. God gives us the tools and the resources but we have to make the choice to ACT for ourselves.
I’m going to close with this “Prayer for Empowerment” by Kathleen Fischer.
Creator and Healer, you dwell closer to us than the air we breathe, yet far surpass all we know.
We bless you for the stunning beauty of your cosmos, the gifts you unendingly give.
Forgive us our failure to be grateful and to trust you.
Fill our hearts with your courage, and our minds with your vision of what we might become.
Free us from fear of the dark unknown spaces where you give birth to new possibilities.
You are a God of adventure, and you took a great risk in creating us.
Empower us to become the community of which your heart dreams.