Recitals, Rescues and Rewards

I used to get so nervous for my children when they had to perform in front of others. I appeared calm on the outside and always reassured my child before a performance. Inside my heart would thump so loud I could hear the pulsating sound in my ears. I had this horrible feeling of dread that if things didn’t go well, my child’s precious self image might be shattered for life.
I don’t think or feel that way any more. I am older now and I’ve witnessed the results of both the positive and negative experiences my children have. My instincts to protect my child from anything difficult have also changed. Most of the time my children perform at about the level of their preparation. So when things don’t go so well, they learn to be better prepared the next time. Other times, they simply freeze up because they’re nervous in front of strangers. In the past I have been tempted to rush up in front of the crowd and say, “She really can do this much better at home. So please quit staring at her and stop making her nervous.”
I am not tempted to do that any more. I know that sometimes we perform well and sometimes we don’t. We learn something we need to know from both experiences. Our focus should be more on our motivations and less on outward show. I’ve also learned that how we appear to others matters less when we have the quiet confidence and peace of mind that flows from personal character.
One day I glanced out the front bedroom window, because I thought I heard someone crying. Out in the driveway I spied my young son struggling to make his two-wheeler stay upright. The bike was over-loaded with newspapers he had folded then placed into large deep canvas bags on each side of the bicycle. There must have been extra ads that day because his heavy bags were bulging even more than usual. My son was frustrated and my first impulse was to rush out and rescue him. I knew I could easily take him around on his route in the family van.
Then I was stopped by this sudden and unmistakable impression, “Jordan will need to do many hard things in his life. You need to let him practice and struggle now so he will be ready then.”
I cried - but I did not go outside and rescue my son that day. I followed the impression I’d received and stayed inside. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.
Eventually Jordan wiped his eyes, steadied his bicycle, rebalanced the rolled newspapers and peddled away on his newspaper route. He did not know I was watching from the window. He did not run into the house and ask me for help. He found the determination and confidence to solve his own problem. Since that day I have seen Jordan struggle through six long years of school to become a doctor. He had to work hard. He did not quit. He had the inner confidence and determination to steady his life, rebalance his priorities when a new wife and three children entered the picture and still achieve his dream.
So now when my children are up front or frustrated with a difficult task, I do not ask God to help them perform flawlessly or to solve their problems. I do ask that my child will learn what they need to know from the experience they are about to have. For I have learned that all life events work toward our good if our motivations are pure, if we work hard, and if we trust ourselves and God.

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