One of the most powerful experiences of our trip to Colorado last month happened on the ropes course. Because you have to be 6 years old to attempt the course, my children have been looking forward to this return trip for two years. In many ways, for them, this was the chief benefit of turning six.For all of the bravado and excited chatter leading up to our trip, revisiting the course reminded us all that it was more intimidating than we had remembered.
In all my years of being a Young Life leader, I have never enjoyed the high ropes. I am not afraid of heights, I just don't necessarily enjoy being in a place where I know a fall would mean imminent death. The course is set up for pairs, so despite my trepidation, I joined my children in the adventure 2-3 stories above the ground. My husband went across with K, I followed with P and then he repeated the course to accompany R.As I we went through the course (and again as I reviewed these photos) I was reminded of the beautiful parallel to parenthood. We get suited up with as much safety gear as possible, but are mindful that this (life) is dangerous business.We can walk closely with our children, helping them in every way imaginable, coaching, guiding, modeling--but they have to walk on their own two feet.There were points along the way where each of the children cried, 'I can't do this.'
All we could do was swallow our own fear, look across the ropes into their eyes and say. "Yes, you can. I am right here."At one point, P lost his footing and fell. I was only 2 feet from him, but all I could do as he dangled was trust that his safety ropes were indeed safe as I encouraged him to climb back up and keep going.The very last obstacle on the course is a zipline. In order to start, you have to sit on the very edge of the platform and then on a count allow yourself to just fall. Literally, you have to trust the rope as you willfully take the plunge.
I was a nervous wreck. The pull of the rope was so strong. What if we slipped over the edge before we were ready. We lost eye contact. How would I comfort and encourage?
Each time I was amazed at the trust and courage my children displayed. They listened to instruction. They trusted in the adults speaking to them, took deep breaths and went for it. Best of all, they enjoyed the ride.
I cannot explain to mixture of relief, love and pride I had as each one bravely finished the course.
I know this was just a glimpse of all that the remainder of parenthood and the slow path to independence holds for us. May we always face it with faith, courage, obedience and a commitment to enjoy the ride!