Playing it safe has always been my motto. I am not a fan of roller coasters – too much risk. I am not a risk taker with money. I am certainly not someone who would walk on the ledge of a mountain. I am a complete control freak of my own children. (Okay, I am not completely over the edge, but I like to say I am vigilant with the risks my kids take). This weekend, I came to the realization that I am definitely a “playing-it-safe” kind of gal. My daughter raced in a Regional Cross Country Race this weekend. This post-cross country season we have warned her that unlike last year, she was really going to have to work to make Nationals. In my mind, I was probably keeping myself far away from the possibility of my 14 year old traveling to New Mexico for Nationals. I was being vigilant. I just didn’t want to allow myself or her to think qualifying was probable because it seemed so out of reach. Disappointment can really hit a 14 year old hard. Actually, disappointment can hit a mom hard too! There is nothing worse than my own child suffering from disappointment. I know it is a life lesson, but what is wrong with making sure she realizes that disappointment could be on the horizon? I wanted to allow her the chance to be vigilant.
Matthew 26:41 Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.
Pete and I had gone through all the scenarios with her. She knew that in order to qualify for Nationals she would have to finish in the top 20 of all the runners in her age group. She knew that several of her teammates would claim some of those spots. She knew that she would have to run like never before. It was up to her. The ending of this story comes as a surprise – even to me. Megan did make the top 20. In fact she came in 17th of all girls in her age group. She pushed beyond all in order to seal the qualification. So, she is headed to Nationals! This is where I realized that maybe I was being a little too vigilant with her. Since, I stayed home with our other two kids, Pete and Megan had made the journey to Illinois for the race. After finishing the race, they called with huge excitement about Megan’s amazing run! “She qualified. She is going to Nationals!” was Pete’s phone call to me. I was elated for her. I immediately started to make plane reservations for the two of them to travel to New Mexico. I found great air fares and shared them with Pete so he could let other parents know the air prices, so they too could book flights. Megan responded to me, “Mom, all the other girls already have flights. They booked them before Regionals.” Hmm…. My guilt cup spilleth over at this point. So the other Mom’s trusted that their girls would make the National team, yet I didn’t. Was I being vigilant or an unsupportive mom? Ouch. This one kind of hurt.
Is it appropriate to play it safe all the time? Maybe not. I guess I could have booked the flight ahead of time. I could have taken the risk and shown Megan that I trusted in her, but then would I place too much pressure on her to qualify? I don’t have an answer for this one – at least not yet. Honestly, I didn’t think she would make it. That kind of speaks poorly on this supportive mom.
Jesus asks his disciples to keep awake and stay watchful in the Garden of Gethsemane:
Matthew 26: 36-46 Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to His disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and distressed. Then He said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.” And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” And He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour? Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, “My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done.” Again He came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. And He left them again, and went away and prayed a third time, saying the same thing once more. Then He came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up, let us be going; behold, the one who betrays Me is at hand!”
Maybe I was a little like the disciples. Megan needed my support, just as Jesus needed the support of his friends. Jesus is frustrated because he has just asked for their support for an hour. An hour. Yet they just could not give Him that hour. He didn’t just need their prayers for what He was about to encounter; He needed their prayers also for what THEY were about to encounter. Megan needed my love and support too. Now, in my case, maybe there were other ways I could have shown that support. I know buying plane tickets seems a bit extreme, so maybe I could have said. “I know all of your friends are purchasing tickets, and just because I am not buying them right now, doesn’t mean I don’t believe in you. I do believe in you, and I want you to do your best, but I don’t want you to feel pressured during your run. I want you to win because you do your very best, not because I have plane tickets.” I honestly, had not done that because I knew in my mind that her chances were slim and I didn’t want to be disappointed. Most importantly, I didn’t want her to be disappointed. What Jesus tells his disciples is he needs them to stay pure of heart. They are about to encounter a lot of violence, fear and turmoil. They need to be right with God in order to conquer these things. Because they are not staying watchful and awake – some of them will fail to acknowledge that Jesus is Lord. Because they didn’t take the time to pray and nurture their relationship with God (they chose to sleep), they would not be ready for what was to come. Clearly, I needed to spend time with Megan encouraging her to be watchful and ready for what was to happen. I needed to remind her that God will give her the strength to persevere. I also needed to let her see that my support was there with her, and I believed in her. I don’t have a clear cut answer for what was the right thing to do, but I now realize that my playing it safe may not be all that is needed. Besides playing it safe, I might need to consider being watchful, being ready, using wisdom, and choosing God.