Navigating the Storms

I love this picture of the lighthouse. There are some fairly serious waves there! There is an important detail if you look closely at the base of the lighthouse – can you see the person hanging on? I think this is a great image to represent what these final few weeks of school will be like for our HSC students – those exams are bearing down on them and there is not a lot they can do at this stage to avoid them. Those in other years are not immune either. While the storm may not be as intense for the rest of the school community, there’s still the daily gusts and showers that many of us face – minor things that take up brain space or emotional energy, from school, work or home – that make life a little bumpy.

For some of us, our natural tendency when life is stormy is to hide and wish the storms away. If you’re a parent, it’s an innate urge to protect our children from these difficulties too. One thing I can guarantee is that no one’s life will be totally free from discomfort or difficulty. Storms like HSC exams, a loss in a grand final or an argument with a friend, will come and go. We can’t avoid them, and parents can’t prevent them all. 

What we can all do; however, is learn to navigate these difficulties, and hang on to something safe. We won’t always do it perfectly, and it will certainly be hard. Learning to handle the challenges at every step prepares you for the next. Being rescued from or avoiding the challenge; however, can prevent you from learning valuable skills. That’s not to say that you can’t provide support to someone through a challenge, but supporting them may involve letting them fail safely or be uncomfortable for a while. It’s also not to say that we should go off in the deep end and try to take on things that are too hard.

This recently started as a message for our graduating Year 12 students and their parents, to encourage them to persist through the final tornado-like weeks of the HSC.  But I think it can apply to families at any stage of life. My challenge for parents is to pause next time you face a problem or are tempted to jump in to rescue your child. Think about how you are reacting and whether you are running from the storm or learning to sail your way through it. What are you holding on to, to keep you safe while you weather the storm? How can you be that Lighthouse for your children, calling them back to safety?

But you are a tower of refuge to the poor, O Lorda tower of refuge to the needy in distress.  You are a refuge from the storm and a shelter from the heat.” –  Isaiah 25:4-5