This morning, I was began reading a little book, The Saga of Life. In it, the author is discussing the transition from adolescence to adulthood. He shares these words from Alan Paton.
I see my son wearing long trousers; I tremble at this. I see he goes forward confidently, he does not know so fully his own gentleness. Go forward, eager and reverent child. See here, I begin to take my hands away from you. I shall see you walk carelessly on the edge of the precipice, but if you wish, you shall hear no word come out of me. My whole soul will be sick with apprehension, but I shall not disobey you. Life sees you coming, she sees you come with assurance toward her. She lies in wait for you. She cannot but hurt you. Yet go forward. Go forward. I hold the bandages and the ointment ready. And if you would go elsewhere and lie alone with your wounds, I shall not intrude upon you. If you would seek the help of some other person, I will not come forcing myself upon you. If you should fall into sin, innocent one, that is the way of this pilgrimage. Struggle against it, not for one fraction of a moment concede its dominion. It will occasion you grief and sorrow, it will torment you. But hate not God, nor turn from Him in shame or self-reproach. He has seen many such, and His compassion is as great as His creation. Be tempted and fall and return. Return and be tempted and fall, a thousand times a thousand, even to a thousand thousand. For out of this tribulation there comes a peace, deep in the soul and surer than any dream.
I was so intrigued by this beautiful passage. I think I reread the passage four times. As I read, I saw it from two different perspectives. First, I thought about my life and my relationship with my parents. I can only imagine the incredible grief that they have endured this year as they have had to watch their baby girl travel this Unplanned Journey, but, even more difficult, to have to watch me travel it as an adult and make my own way. Now my daddy has certainly had his opinions about what I should and should not do. But in the end it is my journey, and I have had to make my own way in this pilgrimage. They have had to sit back and watch me travel, holding the bandages and ointments ready for those times that I needed them. As a parent myself, I can only imagine how difficult this must have been.
As a parent of two teenage girls, one who will be going away to college in a few short months, I can see this through a parent's eyes. Just yesterday, I was holding their tiny hands and helping them balance as they learned to walk. Now the time is coming close when I have to let go. If only I could protect them from ever getting hurt. But I cannot. I have to start letting them go and face the world that can be so cold and cruel -- this same world that can be so seductive and tempting. Will they get hurt? Most certainly. Will they give in to the temptation of sin at times? I would love to say, "Absolutely not." But, surely at times they will. However, if I have taught them nothing else in the few short years that I have had them, I pray that I have taught them to run to God first. And as the passage says, run to him again and again.
Proverbs 22:6 (New King James Version)
Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it.