After 12 hours of driving we found ourselves in a cute Floridian condo that wasn’t prepared for Cooper’s adventurous spirit. We let him loose to explore the new place and quickly learned of all the dangers.
I followed in his wake trying to save him from the beautiful decor that filled the home, but mostly trying to save the decor from the beautiful baby that roamed the floors. There were heavy ceramic bowls of sharp seashells and big pots of plants just waiting to be tipped over. His little hands were relentless in their pursuit for grabbing, pulling, throwing, and eating.
After placing make-shift baby proofing items in all the necessary places I took my spot on the couch. My eyes closed briefly opening to find Cooper walking. His teetering footsteps were steering him in all directions, but most concerning was the large glass coffee table in the middle of the room. He grabbed on to it for stabilization nearly nailing his head on the metal edge.
We moved the coffee table to the side of the room and created a wall of pillows for protection. The rest of vacation followed suit as we did our best to eliminate the hazards before Cooper had a chance to learn the hard way.
We cheered on his unbalanced steps with hoots and hollers followed by “be careful, watch out, not that!” His efforts were always accompanied by failure as he plunged into the carpet time and time again. His eyes gleamed with pride even as he stumbled.
We found the same behavior at the beach, where he crawled face first into the surf and insisted on eating the sand. His curiosity led him to the edges of danger, and we had to learn how far to let him go.
There are times, as parents, that we knowingly let our children fall and there are times we have to save them from themselves. I imagine this line only blurs as they grow older and are entrusted to make their own decisions.
As the parent, I see most of the danger before Cooper encounters it. I’ve already learned what happens when you touch a hot stove, so I tell him no to save him from a burn. The truth is, if I could give him all of my experiences and lessons learned from my life thus far, he would still go out and learn most of them the hard way. His own experiences will be his greatest teacher.
Experience is our greatest teacher. Rising again when we fall is our greatest lesson. Jesus is our greatest example.
God operates the same way that parents do with their children. He knows the troubles and dangers we are getting ourselves into, but we are able to make our own decisions. He waits, patiently watching mistake after mistake hoping we’ll turn to him. Growing up comes with an independence that makes us keen on proving ourselves. Pride makes us hesitant to reach for help, so we avoid doing things that may cause us to fall.
Right now, Cooper is resilient and full of life. His failures are simply a roadblock, not a defeat. He’s not afraid to try again and push the limits as he discovers this world around him. He reaches for my hand when he needs to and let’s go when he’s ready.
What about us? It’s a pity that as we grow older failure keeps us on the ground longer. We lack the zeal to try again, and again if necessary. We lose interest and are trampled beneath defeats. We don’t see that with each fall God is molding us into the people we are meant to become. Each fall knocks away at our pride and reminds us of our need for our Creator. Do we see falling down as a loving gift to humble ourselves and grow?
Cooper falls to the ground and reaches out to me. He’s building endurance, resilience, grit. He’s becoming the seasoned walker he’s meant to be, in his own time, and he’s allowing me to help him along his journey.
It’s sometimes difficult to watch him fall, but I know in the grand scheme of life he is always saved.