Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Are We Teaching Our Kids To Enjoy The Journey?

“Enjoy the journey!”
The number of times my husband and I regurgitated this phrase in response to “Are we there yet?” during our road trip to and from Sky Ranch Family Camps in Colorado, I don’t even know. It’s a life lesson we’ve been learning ourselves the last few years, and one we chose to adopt as a theme for this summer’s family vacation.

Rather than tackling the 14-hour drive home from Lake City, Colorado in one day like we’ve done in years past, we chose to divide the trip into two days so we could visit the Great San Dunes in route. Much to our chagrin, due to heavy rains, the Dunes were too wet to sled, but that didn’t stop us from having a great time.
After a few hours of fun and some surprisingly good Mexican food at a gas station in Raton, New Mexico, we snuggled up in our beds at the Holiday Inn Express for a movie and early shut-eye.
Our plan for Day Two was to drive the remaining 9 hours home, stopping for lunch and an ice cream treat along the way. But as we pulled into Capulin, New Mexico, the same volcano that’s been the source of many family conversations as we’ve passed it on the right going to Colorado, peeked my husband’s curiosity as we passed it on the left coming home.

He wanted to hike the rim.
A resounding, “NO!” came in unison from the back seats. With shoes off, pillows perfectly positioned, snacks in hand, and a family favorite playing on the big screen, the peanut gallery wanted no part of this unexpected adventure. In fact, the amount of whining and protesting we endured on the road to that volcano was exactly what we would expect if we’d hung them by their toes outside the window of a 10-story building.

But it was no match for my husband’s determination.
This man -- who admittedly struggles to enjoy the journey when we travel -- knew there was a lesson for our family waiting on the rim.

He’s so wise.
He led us down into the crater first, which caused all whining and protesting to stop. After all, we were moving downhill, and we saw some interesting wildlife along the way. Our boys were also fascinated by the lava rocks (as later evidenced by at least half of the Capulin crater which ended up in our dryer.)

But then it came time to tackle the summit. It’s only a 1-mile hike round trip, but the incline is pretty steep. We had conquered all of 500 yards when the whining and protesting resumed, particularly from our youngest.
I stood uphill from him with my back to the summit, debating whether to push him to the top or take him to the car. It was an internal struggle, and I’ll admit the car almost won. But deep within my gut, I knew the greater lesson would be learned if I pushed him to the top.

So we hiked 200 feet and stopped. Hiked 200 feet and stopped. Hiked 200 feet and stopped, each time, distracting him with the views, the vegetation, and the wildlife as we paused.
Before I knew it, the whining had ceased.

When we caught up with the rest of our family at the top, we prayed together, thanking God for the beauty of His creation, put our hands in the huddle, and on the count of three, gave Capulin Volcano our loudest “Best Family Ever!”
Then we headed downhill, their attitudes improving with each descending step.
When we got back to the car, we shared with our kids what God has been teaching us these last few years.

Life is a series of journeys strung together by a few summit-like experiences. Some of the journeys are difficult, like our hike to the summit, and some come with more pleasure and ease, like our hike back down. But either way, the journeys are where we’ll spend most of our time. Our time on the summit is but a blip.
We can spend our journeying wishing for the next summit or we can choose to journey with joy, finding God’s gifts for us along the way. The gifts are there. They’re always there.

In Romans 5:4, Paul writes:
“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.”

No question our children are guaranteed to face many a journey uphill as they navigate their way into adulthood under our leadership. The question is: Will we teach them to enjoy the journey? Or will we take them to the car?

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