Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Raising Risk-Takers

Ashley zip-lining in Northern California
If we want our kids to fly, we must encourage them to jump.

As our daughter enters her second semester of college, I'm beginning to see the fruit of almost two decades of parenting. Wisdom my husband and I had learned from couples with older children, from books, sermons. And somewhere along the way, I learned the value of raising a risk-taker.

Although initially, my daughter wasn't thrilled with this idea. At all. Because left on her own, she was fairly risk-adverse.

One spring, she decided she wanted to learn how to ride her bike so she could surprise her daddy on Father's Day. Every afternoon, I'd help her get all geared up--helmet, elbow pads, knee pads... That child was covered with padding from head to toe. Had she fallen, I'm pretty sure she would've bounced.

We had a routine; once she was sufficiently safety-wrapped, we'd head to the garage, take a few steps toward her bike, and then she'd stop. "Momma, pray with me."

So I would, and then we'd take a few more steps, this time making it all the way to her little pink bike with the sparkly streamers dangling from her handle bars. She'd look at her bike, long and hard.

"Momma. pray with me," she'd say again.

And I would, then she'd stare at her bike for a long moment before saying, "I changed my mind."

After which I, of course, did all I could to keep from laughing at my precious, frightened adorable child.

We continued this little routine for some time, until her tendency to "play it safe" began to trickle into other areas. Then it wasn't so cute anymore. It worried me, because though I loved her contemplative, careful side, I didn't want her to go through life searching for bubble wrap.

So, after a long discussion, my husband and I decided to force her to try new things.
Ashley rock climbing in Park City, UT

Like rock climbing, mountain biking... white water rafting.

And after some prodding--and at times, shoving--we came to find out, she loved it.

Now, watching her embrace all the change inherent to college life, and listening to her talk of all the study abroad programs she wants to go to, I'm glad we pushed. Because I think had we not, we would've been telling her, in essence, that the world was a dangerous place that she was ill-equipped to deal with it. But by (strongly) encouraging her to embrace risk, we let her know we believed in her and her ability to overcome.

Mamma's, this is a hard one, isn't it? We adore our children and want to keep them safe and make sure they avoid costly mistakes. But we must be careful we're not projecting our fears onto them, because it's a big, exciting world out there, and God has a journey mapped out just for them. Our role isn't to burry padding but to equip and encourage them to follow, wholeheartedly, after Christ, wherever He leads them.

Whether that's on the mission field.

Across the country.

To the career of their choosing.

Wherever.

What were your thoughts reading this post? For those of you who have kids, are you raising them to live the abundant, victorious life Christ offers or are you allowing your fears to hold them back? To those without kids--actually, to all of us--are we living our lives to the full, embracing risk as we follow Christ? What might you need to surrender or pursue in order to do that? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, because we can all learn from and encourage each other! 

Before I go, fun news to share: My next novel, which reviewers are calling my best yet, is now available for pre-order! 

Sometimes it takes losing everything to grab hold of what really matters.

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Breaking Free, part of NHP contemporary fiction line, is a great reminder that God can take any broken life and redeem it for His plan and purpose. Readers will fall in love with the realistic characters and enjoy the combination of depth, heart-felt emotion, and humor that makes Jennifer's novels so appealing. Readers will be inspired to break free and find God in the complexities of their own lives!

This book is a great resource for a book club, discussion group in women’s Bible studies, or as a ministry resource to spark conversation about practical ministry needs.

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