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Monday, August 8, 2011

The Most Important Lesson I've Learned this Summer

My daughter and I fighting the current
This summer, my family went on vacation at the beautiful Deep Creek Lake in western, Maryland where we rented a lakefront home with close friends of ours.

One of our collective excursions was to visit the lakeside state park that had a sandy beachfront and offered rentals for a variety of watercraft including: canoes, paddle boards as well as single and two-person kayaks.

Our family rented a two-person kayak - I took turns with each of my daughters out on the water for a :30 minute stretch. [Note: see the photo insert of me and our eldest].

This was our first time kayaking mind you. While each mini-expedition was both thrilling and exhilarating - they were also revelatory.

By that, here are some truths I observed on the water that day:
  1. Water-related activities are serious and require full attention of the participants. You must constantly be monitoring for those who are sharing the water with you who might be reckless, careless, mindless or impaired. They are a constant threat that requires vigilance.
  2. You must continually paddle against the wind-driven and tributary-fed current of the lake. Otherwise the tide will carry you someplace you don't want to go or crash your craft (with all its passengers) into the rocky shore line.
  3. Paddling against the ever-surging current is difficult and tiring work, but it's absolutely necessary to keep moving forward in the direction you want to go.
  4. Parents must do virtually all the paddling on behalf of their younger kids, because children simply lack the strength and coordination to effectively navigate the current themselves.
While those might be obvious observations to anyone who's dug a paddle into choppy waters, the parallels to my spiritual walk were powerful. I couldn't help but compare the watery current I struggled against to our swelling and surging secular culture. Likewise, the paddle, life jacket and kayak easily symbolize various elements of my Christian worldview.

Without going into a tedious lecture, those metaphors breathed new meaning and insight into the role that I must play as a parent against the unrelenting darkness of this world that presses forward on our kids in an effort to steal their childhood and innocence.

For instance, growing up I never had to deal with easily-accessible Internet porn, Sexting or mobile email photos of random body parts - that's everyday stuff now for pre-teens and teens alike.

I'm not being a prude, I'm merely being a protector and defender of innocence in the lives of my own kids because once it's lost - like Milton's Paradise - it cannot be regained. That's an important reminder for every parent who cares about their kids and the most important lesson I've learned this summer.

So, I'll just keep paddling as long as I can.

Question: What fight are you fighting on behalf of your kids? In hindsight, what fight do you wish your parents would have fought for you?

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