On a recent drive through town with a couple of my kids, we had one of those conversations that starts with “Hey Mom, do you remember when…?” It’s funny, the things that come up on car rides. Something jars a thought, and before you know it you are cruising down Memory Lane.
What is so striking, is how vividly kids can recall an incident. Something someone said or did to them in elementary school for instance — and the torrent of laughs and adrenaline come rushing back. For me, hearing again the stories of how one particularly horrid teacher treated my fidgety, but bright and creative son — Or my youngest daughter’s recollection of when her palm was read by a visitor on Career Day in the first grade, only to be told that she was “really supposed to be born with Downs Syndrome,” is like reigniting a blow torch. Oh, how I remember the mama bear rage welling up inside me. It all comes back with a vengeance, just thinking about it.
The thing that I realize now, is how life affecting these happenstances were, but also that they were the breeding ground for so many other lessons. I remember like it was yesterday — the rush to protect, to lash-out, to fix the surroundings and influences that would touch my kids’ hearts, minds, and spirits. It is such a delicate balance to not be a helicopter parent (I wasn’t) but to stand at the sidelines of the field, yellow flag at the ready when I witnessed a foul.
I always taught my kids to respect authority. I also wanted them to not be afraid to speak up for themselves, and to do so respectfully. If the proof is in the pudding, then their dad and I did a pretty good job. There was a time or two that I can recall going right to the mat when we needed to wrestle on their behalf over a particular grievance. But for the most part, our kids learned to fight for themselves and to see a problem through to resolution.
For every bad teacher, there were five outstanding ones. For every unkind remark or slight that stuck in my kids’ heads, there were countless remarkable moments of friendships and fun and sleep overs and secrets kept.
This got me thinking about how God looks at us, watches over us, sees what happens to us. He has car ride talks with us, too. He brings forth memories of times and things that have happened, not to remind us of the hurt, but rather to show us how far we’ve come. He watches us from the sidelines, too. Like a good father, he encourages us to fight our fight knowing He is fighting with us. He expects us to stand for what is right.
There were things that my kids went through that I wish had never happened. Hurts and disappointments outside the bear cave, but plenty that happened within. They witnessed arguments, times when the leaders of the pack did not always provide the best example… They endured. They learned. They witnessed good things come out of bad. They kept right on growing through thick and thin.
We all did.
Fast forward to today, my son survived his traumatic first grade year. At his recent wedding, two of his former, wonderful teachers even attended. My daughter is about to embark on her senior year of college in Elementary Education. She is passionate, articulate, and driven to be the best teacher she can possibly be.
I think that is what God wants of us… He doesn’t expect perfection, just faith. He knows we are going to fall down and skin our knees and try to do plenty of stuff without Him. I guess He always knows just when to step in, to point us in the right direction, to give to us our second wind when we feel like giving up. He endows us with compassion, grace, and discernment when we need them. He lets us make our own mistakes. And He always has a way of having things turn out for the best.
There are things we think we will never forget, but they fall into the deep crevices of our memories. When they get brought back to our thoughts, it doesn’t take much to realize that God was there in every single second of what we lived, in what we went through.
God’s love for us never changes. It was there before we were formed in our mothers’ wombs and will never end. He’s got to let us fight our own battles, but He is in them with us so that we will grow in our faith and in who we are called to be. He will never leave us. Ever.
Just ask Him. “God, do you remember when….?”
He will always answer you…Like it was yesterday.