Have you ever imagined yourself as a hero? Showing up in the nick of time to save the day? No? Me neither.
But if I were ever to think that way, it might go something like this:
When I was in my early twenties, I was on the year-round staff at a Christian camp. This camp had 1400 acres. It also had 18 horses. My girlfriend (now wife), Kellie and I went on many dates that consisted of saddling up a couple of those horses and riding anywhere in camp that we wanted to. Too much fun for one couple to have. We did some trail riding but the best part was open pastures at full gallop. Full gallop was not a thing when camp was in session.
On one particular horseback riding date, the “horses were pointed toward the barn.” Some of you know what I’m talking about. Horses know when it’s time to have their saddles removed and get some feed. They go faster when they are pointed toward the barn. Yeeha! We were flying. Side by side. I was riding “Sunny” (an ex-barrel racer) and Kellie was riding “Blue” (he had one blue eye).
Between the barn and us were some of the other horses. This was not an unusual thing. They see us coming and they move out of the way.
Except for one. One horse was oblivious to what was going on. Kellie’s horse made a quick move to go around it. It caught Kellie off guard.
At this point in the story, for me, everything goes into slow motion. The move that Blue made now has Kellie sliding out of the saddle away from me and my horse. She is not riding on top of the horse. She is riding on the side of the horse. At full gallop. Pointed toward the barn.
I’ve replayed this scene in my mind over and over again. Admittedly, I see myself making some pretty sick heroic moves. Jumping from my horse and simultaneously landing on the back of Kellie’s horse while grabbing my future bride around the waist and securing the reigns with my teeth. Yep. Oh and there’s a sunset and the “Indiana Jones” theme is playing in the background. My hair is also blowing in the wind.
That’s not however, how it ended.
Kellie left that horse and tumbled down a small hill. I can’t remember a time in my life where I felt more helpless. Scary. Off we go to the hospital. To this day, she still has occasional pain in the hip that she landed on.
As scary and painful as that episode was, it became a part of our adventure together. A part of our “lore.” The stories that we share with our children. It was and is a part of our love story. But without the heroic stuff. Dang it.
Our children, yours and mine, need to know that their parents love each other. Deeply. This plays a significant role in our children being fascinated by family. Remember, we cannot make our kids love family. We must create a home environment that our children are enamored with. One that they never tire of. Get this: one in which your soon to be teenager will actually want to go on family vacations. I kid you not.
Our children should not know any other way. Normal. When they become teenagers and are faced with all kinds of life altering decisions, they need to know that home is safe, kind, loving, supportive. And fun. Lots of fun. More on this later.
If dad and mom are at odds all the time and can barely stand each other and are only “staying together because of the kids,” there are exactly zero teenagers that want to hang out in that house. Okay, that was an exaggeration but you get the point. You lose a huge part of the home field advantage when dad and mom just tolerate each other. Huge.
The baseline of the triangle represents dad and mom’s relationship with each other. It must be strong.
That completes the outside edge of the triangle. So what do we do with our children? We place them inside the walls of dad loving God, mom loving God, and dad and mom loving each other. They’re surrounded by those three STRONG relationships. That my friend is the beginning of a great normal. It gives us a huge advantage when our kids grow up and start facing the influence of their friends.
Next time: adventure on purpose.