Friday, September 29, 2006

Playing It Safe

At Amanda's school, the third and fourth graders are offered an opportunity to be on the school paper, a before-school activity that produces four newspapers a year--real newspapers on real newsprint. Ever since she was a first grader and the third grader across the street was on the paper, she has said, "I hope that I can do that when I'm in third grade." Of course, it was one of the things that the parents of new third graders were asking about at the open house curriculum night. The teacher told us that it's a lottery, and only twenty third graders and thirty fourth graders are chosen from the many who apply. She had apparently been preparing her students with this news as well.

This year, they have added a few other activities as well including a third grade chorus that meets before school. The forms came home and we were to rank our choices in order. Amanda was all of a sudden very excited about chorus. "I think that would be fun," she kept saying. "But don't you want to be on the Post?" I asked. "Well, sort of, but I like to sing, too." I was fairly certain that I knew the problem. "Are you afraid to pick the newspaper in case you don't get it?" I finally encouraged her that it was worth taking a risk to put the Post in the number one spot. If she wasn't selected, she would almost certainly be picked for chorus, but since this was a unique opportunity, she should go for it. She agreed and we sent in the forms and waited for the news on which activity she would be asked to participate in.

There was a meeting on Thursday morning for the parents of those on the paper. The note had said that we would be told if we were not selected. So, on Tuesday night I told Amanda that I thought maybe she had been picked and she would find out at school on Wednesday for sure. "I wonder which teachers I could interview or who I could write about? There are a lot of interesting people at my school." Then she added, "It's a lot more fun to think about when you know you are going to be on it." Yes, knowing for certain that a dream is becoming a reality does make it more fun to speculate.

In talking with her last weekend about her choices, and studying God's word and hearing some wonderful Bible teaching Tuesday morning, it hit me: I play it safe, too. I might not reach for the brass ring, knowing that I can just stoop down and easily pick the bronze one up off the ground. I play it safe with my prayers. My faith is strong, and especially after enduring some difficult circumstances, my trust in God's sovereignty and His plan for my life is unwavering. So, instead of praying for the miracle, I cower behind the fact that "He knows what's best for me." Instead of asking for complete healing of a seemingly hopeless situation, I ask that the person would be granted peace to deal with whatever the outcome and that their faith would carry them. I truly believe in God's ability to do the big things: heal a "terminal" illness, provide direction in a hopeless situation, give peace when there is no hope left.

I have faith, but I just don't stretch it. See, if I go out on the limb, and put all of my faith eggs in one basket, God might say no. That doesn't make him any less God, any less Right, any less Sovereign. It doesn't mean He loves me any less. It just means "no." But if I've asked--if I've pleaded for a miracle--and that miracle doesn't come, will my faith be shaken? What happens when those faith eggs get cracked, broken or they begin to rot? I have become mindful of my cautious prayers and I am trying to be bold. I am trying to ask for the yes, while risking the no.

Amanda was not one of the thirty selected for the newspaper. I wanted her to be able to explore that skill and interest. Yes, I even prayed that she would be selected (um, if it's the best thing for our family this year, Lord). I'm taking her to chorus this morning, and she's happy to be going. I'm glad that I encouraged her to try for the newspaper. Sometimes we have to be open to dream a little. Our hopes might be fulfilled now, or we might have to wait a little longer, or our dreams might change under God's guiding hand. But not to dream at all, because we're playing it safe? How sad is that?

Thanks to the CWO quote prompt from last week, and specifically this post by Laurel Wreath for bringing the dreams component to all of these jumbled thoughts that I was trying to gel together.


Dianne said...

I think it's so good you realized what was holding Amanda back and encouraged her to dream. Such an important lesson for all of us.

Maggie said...

Wow. My prayers are similar. I read we need to Thank God for the good thinks in our life. I do that on my way home from work. "Thank you Lord for keeping me safe." I pray that God will do what is best for our family. I too play it safe and try not to get my heart set on something. I try hard NOT to pray for specific outcomes. Interesting!

Katrina said...

Oh, this is so me. My husband laughs at my pretent-life-motto: "Always expect the worst; then, who knows?, you might be pleasantly surprised!" I hesistate to branch out, try new things, go for the "big dream" - because it's easier to stick to the things I know I can handle, the things I know hold no risk of let-down. Thanks for your thoughts.

And I just think it's awesome that you know Amanda so well, so you could help her work through this situation. You are a terrific mom!

Barb said...

What I see as so nice here is that Amanda accepted not being chosen for the paper and is happy with chorus and seems to be just fine with it.

Katherine@Raising Five said...

I'm not a huge risk taker, either. I think that's why I'm married to someone who is! I see this tendency in a couple of my kids - why is it so easy to see this tendency in others? You handled this beautifully with your daughter. Great post.

kailani said...

I think it's so important to expose our children to different things. I'm sure the experience at least opened her eyes to what's out there.

Anonymous said...

What an important lesson to have learned! As parents we so want to protect our kids, but in the long run never having to face adversity or disappointment is more damaging, I think. I also liked that you talked her choices through with her.

I am like Katrina... my husband used to say I am such a pessimist. Now he he understands that it's how I cope. I have had to face a lot of adversity , most of it in my childhood. If I don't set my sights high, the fall is a lot softer, you know? I am learning that life is about not knowing what is around the corner, and trudging on despite that. I will never know true joy, unless I take a chance and at least take a peek to see what could lie before me. :O) Great post, here from CFL.

Mike said...

If she is still interested in doing some reporting, you should set her up with a little blog and let her do some research on some local things and help her post them. It might not be the same as writing about her friends in the school paper, but she could at least work on getting used to a deadline and doing research and interviews.

Great post by the way.

Susan (5 Minutes For Mom) said...

I think you really handled that situation well.

I am also so guilty of taking the safe route... I have always been afraid of failure, but in the last few years I have been trying to move past that fear.

Thanks for sharing!