PRACTICAL PARENTING ◽ HOME
We recently attended a funeral and the priest spoke about paths. It was an unusual topic for a funeral, so I thought, but I was intrigued – because I like unusual! He mentioned a high school in our area that waited to lay its sidewalks when the school was built, until the crew observed how the students and faculty walked and the paths they took. What an interesting concept!
After well-worn trails were visible, the contractors came along and laid the sidewalks and the paths were set. And as the school grew and rains poured and mud appeared, the sidewalks were widened to accommodate the growth.
His reason for this story was to say that we all lay paths in life. As parents, our kiddos watch and see the paths we walk.
They see if we walk to a place of solitude and drop to our knees in worship and prayer, or walk outside to shake our fists in the air.
They see if we run to spread rumors when we get a phone call about those people and what they did or we walk in the sunshine and speak words of blessing.
They see if we are diligent to make a pathway toward holiness by our attitudes and actions, or if we succumb to dark paths where no one can see us.
They see if we walk to a neighbor’s aid when in need or walk to shut our blinds so we can’t see.
They see the places we frequent the most, for self-help or giving selflessly.
They see the roads we travel to get to a place of happiness and peace, through external pleasures or internal worship and praise.
They see how often we invite another to walk the same sidewalks we walk, as we place our arms around them, or whether we narrow our steps so no one can join…
It’s daunting isn’t it? Our kiddos, from the time they can open their eyes and recognize our faces, start following us. Babies follow our paths across the room and smile when we reenter their vision again. Toddlers watch our paths out doors and across streets and run after us, as we insist that they hold our hands and be careful and look before crossing. As long as our kids live under our roofs, they will see the sidewalks and paths we’ve laid by walking in consistency to the places and spaces we go.
I have thought about that sermon for a few days now, and the visual of students walking and taking paths, and then the concrete being laid, has stuck with me. It needs to stick with all of us as parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles. We need to think about why we cross through that piece of land over there, under those trees and around that barrier, to get to our destination. We need to see if there are shorter and safer routes to peace and happiness that will bring life and purpose to those watching us. And by all means, we need to widen our paths to include others so that they don’t have to walk in the mud when it rains.
Where do your sidewalks lead? Why do you walk that direction? Look behind you, because they’re watching and waiting and deciding whether or not they want to walk on those paths or not…depending on where they lead and how you appear when you arrive.
And if you have this crazy maze of trails and broken concrete over which you’ve walked for years that you’d rather your kids not experience, then start walking straighter and taller and toward life and peace. You still have time to redirect their paths, as you redirect yours…
Proverbs 3:5, 6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.