by Marilyn J. Ehle
â€œAnd the child grew and became strong in spiritâ€¦â€?Â Luke 1:80
Her thick dark braid swung to one side as she struggled to open the heavy church door. I had offered to accompany her to this first night of a childrenâ€™s program in a church we had just begun to attend, but she said she could do it alone. She was not a gregarious seven-year-old, preferring books to games, moments alone to group play. My heart sank as I watched her pull on what seemed to be a huge obstacle to an evening of enjoyment.
In the decades since that evening, I have watched this shy child evolve into a competent woman who has struggled with doors far heavier than massive ones made of wood. My heart ached as I watched her walk alone through airline security, leaving the refuge of home and family in Europe to begin university in California. Later she planned her own study program in France, away from the familiar halls of that university. After graduation she would move alone to New York City to attend graduate school. She floundered and almost sank when an important relationship was cruelly severed. She navigated the waters of choosing a career, buying a home and building a life as a single woman.
Perhaps struggling with wooden doors as a little girl was a first step in what would become a lifetime of far more challenging decisions as a daughter, friend, aunt, teacher and counselor. We dare not open doors for our children they can open for themselves.
So often our natural response is to make life easier for our children, forgetting that it is by opening increasingly heavy doors that they will ultimately succeed. Teach us, Lord, when and how to help.
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