I exercise at a fitness studio which is located across the street from a beautiful stone church. Some days, the bike I use for cycle class faces a window and I look at the church and pray through some of the most grueling workouts. I admire the stone work and ask for Jesus' help to get through whatever distress my instructor has devised for the hour.
This morning as I looked out the window towards the church, I watched a mother open the car door for one of the tiniest preschoolers. I imagine this little guy was still in a twosies class. He stumbled onto the sidewalk and up the stairs with a little help from the hand rail but wanted no help from mom. His footing was unsteady so mom walked carefully nearby to make sure he didn't meet the concrete sidewalk face to face but allowed him to make his way. Finally, after much staggering and stumbling the wee student made it inside the church.
As I watched, my eyes burned with tears. That mom was doing what all moms (and dads) do - we walk beside our kids as they stumble through life. We wince and lunge towards them as they are about to fall - sometimes we stop them, sometimes we let them fall so they can see that falling isn't always the worst thing and that they can stand up again and keep going. It's not easy to do and there is a delicate balance between offering help and allowing the learning process to take its natural course.
I am about to graduate my oldest daughter from high school. We began homeschooling her in the second grade so I have been close at her elbow as she made her way from childhood to young adulthood. As I watched the little man make his way to preschool, I remembered exactly what it felt like to be that young mom taking my daughter to preschool. Wasn't that yesterday? And now in less than two weeks she will not stagger, but walk proudly across a stage to receive her diploma. It feels very strange and not quite right. On one hand, I have done all I can do to send her into the world to begin living out God's purpose for her life, on the other hand I want to keep her close by so I can catch her when she falls.
My imagination took me to sweet Mary as she walked along and watched Jesus' final walk towards the cross. Roman soldiers and angry mobs prevented her from intervening and she watched Him struggle along His suffering road with the cross on His back. Simon of Cyrene came along and assisted Jesus for a short while which I am sure was a comfort for Mary. I think of all the teachers, coaches, youth leaders, and mentors who have come along my child as she makes her way towards her purpose. Parents can't do it alone and we are blessed when others help our kid as they stumble along.
Jesus went forward to complete His purpose. He faced the sin of the entire world to do His father's will. As a mom, I can only imagine Mary's anguish knowing what must take place in order to fulfill Scripture and save the world. I know my kid doesn't have the weight of the world on her back although sometimes it might feel that way. I pray that as she staggers along and as I walk beside her, we both remember Jesus is our Savior, He is the way, and He is the source of our strength.
Isaiah 40:30-31a Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.