When Micah, Jake and Caleb were quite young, we often hit the trails of the lovely and enticing local parks in Washington County, Oregon. As I shared, the boys were young – ages one, two and a half and nearly four years of age – back then. The boys were eager to bound and prance and even saunter upon the forest trails. I would let them run and explore at their own pace. Caleb was in a stroller then, or I would carry him in a backpack. Nonetheless, Jake and Micah would set off without a care in the world and run and run and run and run with glee. We’d pause from time to time and let Caleb determine our pace and direction too. Our family set out regardless of the weather. We especially loved the days when the Oregon rain pounded and we could jump in and splash about in every pathway puddle that dared us!
I imagine there were days that I may have wanted our boys to quicken their pace and move faster so that we could ‘get on to the next thing.’ However, I really don’t remember this season in our lives that way. I remember that we spurted. We ambled. We climbed. We paused. We danced and we drifted. And we ran. We loved those moments. We actually relished them.
In my mind, no one expects toddlers to move at an adult speed. Granted, my kids were quick. And I often ran and pushed Caleb’s stroller just to keep pace with Jake and Micah! Yet, no one would compare our pace to that of a professional runner. No. What anyone would have observed were three happy boys running to their heart’s content with their mother in tow.
Like I said, no one expects toddlers to be running sprints or even marathons. Yet, something changes once children reach school-age – at least this is what I have observed in both the United States and in South Africa where we make our home today. There is a pace that children are generally expected to achieve in a variety of academic and developmental arenas. If they don’t reach these marks, at any grade level, at a particular time assigned by others, then depending upon where children find themselves in the world, their acceptance will depend upon whether they are allowed to ‘run at their own pace.’
For our family, we discovered six years ago, that in order for Jake and Caleb to continue moving at their own pace in the academic world where we live, we needed to homeschool. My husband, John, and I knew that Jake and Caleb were capable of learning – they just needed an environment in which they could be who they are and embrace their strengths and interests and continue onwards from there.
We chose to move in sync with our children.
We needed to come alongside of them and provide an atmosphere of grace and patience so that our children could learn and continue to learn.
I love how Pastor Andy Stanley defines patience:
Patience is choosing to move at the same speed as someone else.
Patience is a conscious decision to enter into someone else’s circumstances in order to think, feel, and act as they would as we move forward together – at the same pace.
There is harmony in such a choice.
We’re asked to do that with each other, actually.
In Romans 12:16, we are exhorted:
Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people in low position. Do not be conceited.
To be in harmony is to be like-minded.
Such a choice means that we are in pursuit of the same aim.
We are not divided in our interests.
We do not seek competing aspirations.
We are not moving at a speed that causes the other to try and keep pace.
We do not place obstacles or barriers in another’s path.
We are for one another.
We see each person as a sacred being – created by the hand of God.
What would happen if we truly looked upon others with such a sacred view?
I’d love others to look upon my children – my young men – with such eyes! To choose to move in sync with Jake and Caleb and see their strengths! To be for them in every possible way so that they can reach for the potential that is theirs’ in Christ! Wouldn’t you desire the same for those you love and adore? Of course you would!
So, for today, who will you choose to come alongside in harmony and with patience? To move at their speed and assist them be all that their Lord and Savior desires them to be?
To seek the sacred and divine by loving a family member, friend, and workmate well?
What a difference it would make, indeed!