School started for my girls this week, and I was reminded of this story from Jayden's first day of preschool last year.
So, if God may be calling you into something new, or maybe something a little scary, read on . . .
Jayden gripped my hand with small fingers. He took a deep breath, and I felt him tremble. He looked up at me.
I gave him my best smile. “Are you ready?”
Together, we turned toward the long hallway to his preschool classroom. And then, I was the one taking a deep, uncertain breath. How would he handle this first day of real school? Would he cry? Would he fuss? Would he fight? Would he wet his pants?
Jayden’s fingers tightened. His shoulders straightened. “I’m ready.”
I straightened my shoulders too, and we moved toward the triangle of light that fell from the door’s opening. I’d made this walk many times with his older sisters. But for him, it was the first time. The first time he’d squish his hand into the homemade playdough. The first time he’d sit on the carpet for circle time and hear the story of the big bear. The first time he’d teeter-totter with a classmate, and sip his juice, and hang his sweatshirt on the rack, and obey the teacher when she said to stand on the yellow line.
Was he really ready?
We stepped inside the classroom. He didn’t cry. He didn’t fuss.
I wanted to scoop him up and kiss him, but I wouldn’t. He was a big boy now. And he was ready. He truly was.
I let go of his hand and touched his blond hair. My gaze traveled over his cowboy boots, red t-shirt, and jeans covering his big-boy underwear. It seemed like just yesterday when he was running around in diapers and onesies. How had this happened? How had he grown from a toddler in Pampers to this young man making his way over to the Lego table all by himself?
I thought about it and smiled. He’d grown day by day, hour by hour, with a lot of instruction, a lot of discipline, and a lot of meals. And some of it he hadn’t liked one bit. He wanted to hit his sisters when they took his toys. We taught him he couldn’t hit. He wanted to go to church in just a diaper. We told him he had to keep his pants on. He didn’t want to eat healthy food. We gave it to him anyway. He “no like” going to bed. We tucked him in and turned out the light all the same. And he especially didn’t like to use the potty chair. Going in the diaper was just so much easier. But we kept at it until he was able to keep his big-boy pants dry all day and all night.
We did it because we knew he couldn’t stay a baby forever. We knew this day would come, when he’d be going to school where you couldn’t hit, you couldn’t grab, you had to keep your pants on and your underwear dry. Now, after a lot of work, he was ready.
And he was happy.
As I stood there and watched him play, I wondered if God was using the things I didn’t like in my life to discipline me too, to train me for a new adventure that I didn’t yet know about. Were the things that didn’t taste so sweet making me strong? Were the lessons that seemed so hard preparing me for my “first day of preschool” where diapers weren’t allowed? As Jayden moved to the playdough table, the words of Hebrews 12:5b-6 (NIV) came to mind: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves...”
So, even though I prefer the easy life, even though I would rather swallow only things that I enjoy and get my own way, God knows that I have to grow up. So he trains me, disciplines me, shows me how to grow, so that when I stand in the long, scary hallway leading to a new adventure with him, I can straighten my shoulders, grip his hand in mine, and say with a voice that may tremble just a little, “Yes, I’m ready.”
As I left Jayden’s classroom that morning, I knew that I, too, wanted to be like him. I wanted to be a “big girl” who could bravely go into new situations and do what’s right. I wanted to be the type of kid who holds God’s hand, even when I’m shaking, and walks forward. I want to be ready for every new adventure with God.