This past week, my husband and son have been hard at work, getting his car ready for our church’s annual pinewood derby-style race for our mid-week kids’ club. It has provided valuable bonding moments for daddy and son, but it also stretched our limits on patience. Gabriel has a difficult time with mistakes. He has rubbed many holes into his school papers from the compulsive erasing and re-writing. We find ourselves repeating entire conversations simply because he didn’t answer correctly when we had asked him a question. So, when Gabriel messed up, painting the number on his car, we thought that was the end of that project. It took us all night to comfort him, to tell him everything will be ok, and assure him that he would have time to fix it the next day.
The time had finally come, and we arrived at the event 30 minutes early. The busy staff walked about getting everything ready. Anticipation was high as Gabriel asked every couple of minutes when the race would begin. But, the time passed quickly, and we were soon surrounded by a large crowd of spectators. Children screaming and running with excitement. Parents chit-chatting with other parents. The staff trying to maintain some semblance of order. For Gabriel, it was sensory overload. A few times, he would be on the verge of a meltdown, and I tried desperately to calm him down. I was determined to see him through this. It was not an easy road to get here, and I thought, We will not end the night without seeing that little wooden car speed down that track. But I began to wonder if we made the right decision by participating.
After watching other cars race, Gabriel’s group was up next. I looked around, and my husband was nowhere in sight. I told the kids to stay put while I looked for their daddy. I found him in one of the back classrooms trying to occupy our 2-year-old, who was too wiggly to sit during the race. We hurried down the hall, and at the exact moment we walked through the door, we saw on the big screen Gabriel’s car #. And just like that, his race was over, and we missed it. It was single-elimination, and he lost, so we were done. Actually, Gabriel wasn’t disappointed that he lost. He wasn’t even bothered that Daddy and Mommy were not there to watch with him. But, I was. It was eating me up inside. I know it wasn’t a big deal, not even for Gabriel. But I thought, Why go through all that trouble only to miss it?
If I couldn’t handle this outcome, how would I handle life’s bigger disappointments? I had become consumed with my goals and my way. Even though I watched my son struggle that night, I wanted him to get over it and see this race through. I wanted him to experience what all the other kids did and not have to sit out another major activity. But in my determination, I lost sight of why we opted to participate in the first place: to provide an opportunity for Gabriel to have fun. What was the Lord teaching me through this? The answer was as clear as day, but I wanted to shut my eyes, thinking there was another lesson involved. But no, this was to be a lesson on submission and humility. My big plans are always showered with much prayer, but I tend to hold on to smaller plans more tightly, forgoing the need to commit them to The Lord.
“The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps” (Proverbs 16:9). Make your plans, big or small, but loosen your grip because God is still sovereign. He may direct you to walk on a path you did not expect.
(Photo credit 1: Telstar Logistics)
(Photo credit 2: Melissa Hillier)