Monday, July 19, 2010

day 196: knowing where to “tap”

There is a story told of a man who was trying to fix his broken boiler many years ago. He tried and tried over several weeks but was unable to repair it. Finally, he gave up and called an expert. This “expert” engineer took a look at the boiler and gently tapped on the side of it. He then stood back as the machine sprang to life.

As the repairman left, he handed the man a bill for a full repair job. The owner of the boiler said that he should only have to pay a small amount since the task took just a few moments. The engineer responded that the man was not paying for the worker’s time but rather for the years of experience it took the repairman to learn just where to tap the boiler.

What does this have to do with parenting? The minute I read this story I was reminded of twenty years ago when I had a few young children and begged God to show me how to parent. When I cried because I could not get my strong willed little girl to obey. When I worried and fussed over a selfish child, sure that I was not equipped for this job, not “expert” enough to raise sons and daughters in a Christian home. When the parenting machine went haywire, I felt that I beat all over the side of it in vain in order to fix it—just like the owner of the boiler in the story.

Fast forward ten years later when I had babies through teens. I was learning “where to tap” in terms of parenting babies, toddlers, and young children. I was becoming an “expert” in the loosest sense of the word—simply from parenting every day. I gained confidence in those areas as I had my years of experience with the first few children to know what worked and didn’t work. However, I was just entering the stage of teenagers—and I had no idea what to do. I tapped endlessly all over the parenting machine---and felt that I only seldom hit the right spot.

Fast forward twenty years later, and I still worry, beg God, and cry--but a lot less often than I did in my early years of parenting. Do you know why? Because after so many years of “doin’ the stuff” there are many days in which I actually do know where to tap in order to solve the problem. There are some days in which answers come simply because I have years of experience now—and can slide my metaphorical hand along the side of the deteriorating situation and feel a quickening within me as to where to tap.

Oh yes, there are still “those days.” Ray and I still look at each other on occasion like we have never faced a certain situation or circumstance with no clue as to where to tap. But my twenty-seven years of experience has given me tools, opportunities, and intuition that I simply lacked many years ago. And some days, I know just where to tap—and I thank God for those days as I seek to tap into my children’s hearts and lead them in the way the Lord desires for me to lead them.

If you are a young parent, do not despair! Every situation you encounter now with your children is building within you the experience and skill to become an expert tapper of sorts. Some day you will realize that you can solve a problem more easily than you could before. Then another time it will happen again. And you will know that you have become an accomplished tapper of your children’s hearts—and you will tap away every day, knowing that you are leading them in the way the Lord desires for you to lead them.

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