With the uncertainty of a new future on the horizon, how can we help our young people navigate what lies ahead?
She started tearing up, as she shared the pain of trying to help her daughter decide whether to return to college this fall or take a gap year. Her girl had been thriving in a city school on the west coast until the world shut down and college became a wilting online experience back in her parents’ home in Montana. What if Covid-19 flares and college turns into remote learning again? Should the family drop big bucks on a fall semester, for an uncertain college experience for their daughter?
I’m a high school teacher, so I recently attended the graduation ceremony for our small private school. The feeling of seniors with high hopes is fresh in my mind. We listened to their accomplishments and heard how much money the class had been awarded in scholarships, to attend college.
But college no longer seems a certain next step.
And cities no longer stand on the horizon as hopeful places of employment.
What a beautiful time in our nation’s history this is, to teach our children that the character of God is the only sure thing. Now is the best time, like a freshly tilled garden bed, when we can plant seeds of faith in the place where everything has been turned upside down.
Let me share a simple Scripture with you that can be a place where you can get your heart and mind oriented, before having hard conversations.
In Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV), we read:
Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
Let’s take these two verses apart, so they become practical mental bricks we can stand on.
Who is in charge of making the pathway in front of your child straight? Not you. Not your child. It’s the LORD’s job to go out into the future and get the path all laid out for your child. The word “LORD” is in all caps to show it’s the Hebrew word that means the always-has-been, eternal, self-existent God. God exists in the future, so he is completely informed and capable of navigating it. He is the only one who knows what’s coming.
Help your child identify where he is leaning and trusting. Is he trusting in his own ability to figure things out? Is he trusting in the news? Is he leaning on his parents to figure things out? Encourage your child not to lean on his own ability to mentally figure out what to do in the future. Talk about our limitations as humans, who can only guess what might happen in the future. Why would we lean on our own understanding of things?
There’s a powerful and easy instruction in these proverbs, and that is to acknowledge God. Try preaching this mantra to your child, during the decision-making process: It’s God’s job to make the path straight. It’s our job to acknowledge him. Say it over and over again: It’s God’s job to make the path straight. It’s our job to acknowledge him.
Conversations About the Future
You’ll have a conversation about future decisions a lot. You know how it is. The topic just keeps coming up, which is good. But be the parent who puts the brakes on every time and says, “Hey, before we dive into this conversation again, let’s stop and acknowledge God first. Let’s remember who he is, what he can do, how much he loves you, and the fact that he is eternal and already exists in your future.” After you’ve had a moment of worship and exalting God’s character, then talk about the future.
It’s okay to be sad for your student and the disappointment of what’s happening in our country and how it affects our lives but jump on this season as an excellent opportunity to help build your child’s faith in God. Be a teacher. When we follow God, we have a path straightener. Show your child how hopeful and wonderful this is.
Of course, you have to believe it yourself first. You might start there.
Hey, we’re going to be okay. The LORD is out ahead of us.
Much love from Montana,
Want to learn more about how to study the Bible in a simple way? Christy has written a book called Moving in Close: 52 Bible Study Tips to Help You Know God. Available on Amazon.
Christy Fitzwater is a writer and pastor’s wife living in Kalispell, Montana. She has a daughter who is married and a son in college. Christy writes to help people know God, and you can find her new book about becoming blameless on Amazon. Or follow her devotional blog at ChristyFitzwater. You can follow Christy on Instagram here!