Friday, October 30, 2009

Train up a Child

Lutheran Chick #1
"Train up a child in the way (s)he should go: and when (s)he is old, (s)he will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6
"Do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord." Ephesians 6:4

Somehow these two passages do and and do not go together. I have yet to master how to guide a teenager without some amount of angry eye-rolling, hands on hips, stomping off. Training here is "dedication, initiation and discipline." Sounds about right, though a little more complicated on the ground. Yet, today as I sit here, it is as the mother of a daughter who tonight we will walk across the football field. As her parents we will join her for a senior night dinner and someone will take the fleeting snapshot of the three of us, her in her band uniform. Later when they call our names we will take that stroll across the grass for the last home game of the year and of her high school career. Probably good emotional practice for others walks that take her one more step beyond our house,commencements and possibly marriage. But let's not get too far ahead.

Last night, we electronically shipped off the college application complete with the essay she groused about writing. I did not helicopter. It needs to be her on that page, not me. Secretly I was fretting- what will it look like? How much revision might it need? How would that process go? Yet after all of the agonizing about what to share, she wrote a true picture of herself- someone who has struggled to come into her own, shy, unsure, and though not said, known to me- a person with three disabilities.

She wrote about life changing experiences that have changed her for the better and made her who she is- a person who has matured into a young adult ready to take on the world. (her words)
She wrote about how her love of music which found its home in Lutheran Summer Music- an environment where life became easier because her talent has been nurtured-that this has made her more confident and willing to take risks. (her words)
She talked about becoming comfortable with being a person who is still shy and not a social butterfly, but not a wallflower. And about how as the first high school intern in the social work department of a very large retirement community, she has had experiences that have confirmed her interest in social work- work that she loves.

When she started middle school- the great melting pot, she wondered how she would sort it all out and my advice was- "remember who you are." Remember who you have been trained to be- our empathetic, creative daughter has indeed lived this out so far. But now we can see that she is that much farther on the way- a way of living that has been nurtured and shaped by far more than just her parents. In the end, the shaping has been not so much about being polite or caring, but much more about helping her to see some of God's gifts and open them up- to find those things that make you stand a little taller and that bring you joy in the sharing.

Her journey on the way continues, but for today- this bittersweet day- where she is headed off to a Rotary meeting after early dismissal to be honored as an officer of the Interact Club, then off to her internship, then home to get ready for the big night-today I can see that the road thus far has been, like her birth into our lives, a gift. And a chance for each of us as children of God to train each other.

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