Monday, April 13, 2015

The Game of Life

Spin the wheel. Move your sporty little car down the game of life trail. Draw two cards and chose between them for your career...and then change it on down the road if it's not working out for you. Add a baby...or four with another spin. Buy or sell a house on a whim. Learn to play the bongos or maybe take dancing lessons. Not enough money to pay your debts? No problem - just take out a bank loan. My personal favorite: Get $20K just because someone else spun your "magic number." 

I grew up playing Life with my family. I'd load up that little pink car with all my kids - I always got the pink car because I was the only girl, btw. I'd stash my loads of cash neatly under the edge of the playing board just waiting and saving. It all seemed so simple. Pick this or that. Lucky break here -- get $500K. Be a teacher -- and make $100,000 a year. (Maybe the game should be called "Dreamland" instead!). Hit a streak of bad luck -- lose your money. But no worries -- payday is just a spin away!

Riley got the newest version of LIFE for his birthday, and we've been enjoying a little family game night (when we're not running crazy to "all the things"). Although Riley's version has been updated from my 1980s version, not much has really changed about the concept. As I watched the boys' excitement wax and wane, I couldn't help but be just a little sad, too. I wish I could make the real game of life that simple for them. What if they only had TWO careers to choose from -- with both netting them over $100K a year? What if choosing the right spouse was as simple as selecting a colored peg and plopping her into the car beside them (not to mention getting $20K wedding gifts from everyone else playing!). 

If I'm being honest, thinking about their futures sometimes make my mama heart hurt a little at the thought of their wrong choices and inevitable detours ahead in each of their lives. I want to protect them. Maybe just wrap their little blue car with some bubble wrap to prevent the dings and dents or even head-on collisions. Or maybe just tell them which girl is "the one" (and certainly tell them which ones are NOT!) or help them choose the best career for them. 

But I can't, really.

If I'm being realistic, all I can do is try to teach them to love Jesus and pray. I think back on all the times my parents tried to steer me in the right direction and at how I so often balked and did just the opposite. Sometimes it worked out for me - and sometimes it didn't...but there were certainly lots of dings along the way.

I've decided that watching your child hurt, whether physically or emotionally, because of a bad choice must be the worst part of parenting. I don't look forward to it. At. All. Even the few "little" situations we've had already were just awful.

So I pray daily for their safety and their protection from the hard knocks that are certain to come. I pray for their decisions and for the friends they will surround themselves with in the years to come. I pray for God to draw their hearts to Him and when they stray, protect them until they return to Him. I pray I can show them Jesus in real ways that make them want to love Him - and love others because of Him. Most of all, I pray for mercy and grace for all the mistakes I will make along the way.

Will I still try to tell them what to do? Probably. Will they listen? Probably not. After all, they did get a double dose of the stubborn gene, unfortunately. Will I love them and support them either way? Absolutely! 

Because really,  I can't wrap them (or their little hearts) in bubble wrap. And Jeff and I really only have them for a short time...we just have to remember that it's what we do with that short time makes all the difference in the game of ETERNAL LIFE.

Sidewalk Prophets has a song, "The Words I Would Say" that sums it up pretty well, I think...

Be strong in the Lord 
and never give up hope.
You're gonna do great things, 
I already know. 
God's got His hand on you 
so don't live life in fear.
Forgive and forget,
but don't forget why you're here.
Take your time and pray...
These are the word I would say. 

So, what are your parenting fears? How do you handle your worries about the future?

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