The subtitle for our blog talks about “challenges on the path ahead.” I want to establish some working definitions for the purpose of today’s post. Let’s stay that “the path ahead” means whatever goals you have for your life, for your children, for your family. Let’s then agree that “challenges” are whatever obstacles or barriers lie across that path as you move toward your goal. They might be physical challenges, financial obstacles, emotional barriers – roadblocks come in all shapes and sizes. Please hold these definitions while I digress a bit.
Just recently I read somewhere (and I’m afraid I can’t give credit where credit is due, because I read a lot of parenting content on-line and I don’t remember where ran across this) that being a good parent means making a choice between what is easy and what is right. I puzzled over this for a while and at last concluded that it sets up a false dichotomy. It implies that what is right is not easy, and because most of us prefer easy to hard, it further implies that we would rather not do the right thing – because we’re lazy or scared or busy or tired or impatient or weak. But what if choosing what is right is also the easy choice?
I’m going to assume you know what is right – for yourself, for your children, for your family – and that your “right” may not look exactly like my “right.” But let’s get back to the challenges and the path ahead. There will always be obstacles on this path toward what is right for you and your kids. So what happens when the road is blocked?
It seems to me there are three ways to react to an obstacle. You can believe the false dichotomy (that doing what is right will be hard) and let it block you, either temporarily or permanently. A second option is what I think of as the “Parkour Method” after the cross-country racing sport: charging headlong at the obstacle in a straight line. Lots of people choose this method, and are energized by the challenge: the narrowness of their escape from failure is their measure of success. A third method is what I think of as “Peace Like a River,” after the song of that name. In a river there can be all manner of obstacles, be they boulders or tree trunks or (depending on where this river is) derelict cars or bridge pilings or herds of cattle. The water doesn’t find these obstacles a challenge. It simply flows around them, continuing on its path. Easy.
Yes, I said “Easy.” Not the same as instant, however, and not the same as effortless. Easy as in, “Rest easy, you did the right thing.” I think that using the Six Types of Courage can help me stay focused on my destination, keep me on my path, and help me figure out how to go over or around. I’m still holding my daughter’s hand on this journey, but it won’t be much longer until she’s walking entirely under her own power. And I think that when she encounters a false dichotomy in her way, she’ll see it for what it is and just keep moving forward. I hope it will always be easy for her to do the right thing.