Love and Folders: Choosing to love more deeply
This morning my son’s folder was sitting on the kitchen table. Not a big deal except that if he leaves it there while the rest of him goes to school, he has to “flip his card” (a step on the way to the imposition of discipline). One of the things we’ve been trying to teach our kids is responsibility. Michelle and I both believe this is an essential character trait for life. At the same time, every fiber of my being longed to rescue my son from the impending “card flip.” Yes, you heard me right. I was deeply wrestling with allowing my son to face a minuscule amount of reprove from his teacher despite the opportunity to have him learn something extremely valuable in the process. This is endemic of a problem Michelle and I both face–we always want to rescue our kids.
“We know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Romans 5:3-4
The reality is that my children have not faced anything that could aptly be called suffering to this point in their lives. Shoot, even my most difficult moments pale in comparison to the suffering much of the world faces. My children are growing up in a suffering-free greenhouse curated by me. In the process I am robbing them daily of the moments that would lead to the development of perseverance, character, and hope. I am keeping them from becoming what they could be because of my intense desire to protect them.
The root of my drive to keep them surrounded in metaphorical bubble wrap is love. I love my kids. I love them deeply and intensely. I would do anything for them. Well, anything except allow the development of their character through struggle. I’m guessing I’m not the only parent harming my children with my love for them. Real love desires the best for someone, not the easiest. Love that forsakes the best for the easiest is less than it could be.
“We must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy.” Albus Dumbledore (Thank you for forgiving a bit of Harry Potter nerdery, but the quote is solid!)
Obviously I am not suggesting that we haphazardly force struggle on our children. To say love is only expressed through allowing difficulty would be ridiculous. Yet I highly doubt many parents are in danger of allowing their children to face too much difficulty or struggle. Many of us won’t even let our kids learn responsibility by allowing them to leave their folders on the kitchen table.