While he certainly enjoyed all these newfound possessions, and while he was increasingly excited as the momentous day approached, I do not believe he fully appreciated all that it entailed. Heretofore, he had only attended pre-k for two days a week. This year, of course, things would be different.
On his first day, amidst much fanfare, his mother and father both took him to his new school. The video my wife received that morning showed him to be all excited, shuffling around nervously and jabbering nonstop as his dad walked him into a strange new building full of hundreds of new people.
This was quite a contrast to the follow up video we received later in the afternoon, which showed him to be absolutely exhausted as he slouched in his car seat and, amidst yawns, in response to his mother’s prompting, muttered “I had a good day…” We were told later that he was ready to turn in much earlier than usual that night!
Fast forward to day two (earlier yesterday) … His dad had now gone to work; and he was being driven to school by his mother, who also had his two little brothers in the van. As she could not leave them, she told him he would have to get out all by himself and meet the teacher and then go into the school without either her of his father. With great trepidation, accompanied by brewing tears within his eyes, he was suddenly forced to contemplate the gravity of his mother’s words.
A moment of silence ensued. Then, driven by sheer determination, he literally willed his body to leave his seat and the van and then take the necessary steps up the sidewalk. It took a full minute; but he eventually entered the building. My daughter fought back her own tears as she put the van in gear and pulled away.
Still, she was manifestly proud. And with good reason, for in that single moment, something magical had happened. Her first born son had met one of life’s greatest challenges - all by himself, he had to get out of the car on the second day of kindergarten and boldly walk into the building. And he had done it! He had manned up and owned the whole thing!
Later, when his mother picked him up from school, he was all excited. He acted as if the earlier episode had never even happened. There is little doubt, therefore, that when the time comes tomorrow to exit the van and make his way inside, he will do so with the confidence that says “I’ve got this!” After all, he’s now “been there and done that”! From this forward, his attitude will doubtless be “Bring it! It ain’t no thing no more!”
I know this because I myself once travelled the very road he is now travelling. I too faced the first time I entered kindergarten by myself. I did the same for first grade, and later for the junior high, the high school, the junior college, the university, the seminary, and the graduate school I attended. Each time, it carried a new sense of dread. Yet, each time, I got through it. And each time, it also got a little easier.
No doubt you too can relate. Even if you did not choose to further your education beyond high school, you still understand the significance of travelling this road. The simple truth is that life continually presents us with challenges which we must overcome in order to grow and mature. Whenever these challenges present themselves, we must either face up to and win out over them, or else shrink away from and be defeated by them.
The more challenges we face and overcome, the more our confidence grows, as well as our skills! Conversely, the more challenges we face and shrink away from, the weaker our confidence grows, as well as our skills. It therefore behooves us to “man up” in the face of life’s challenges and, no matter how difficult, own them!
Biblical examples of this abound. Whether it is Moses standing before Pharaoh, or David standing before Goliath, or Elisha and Gehazi standing before the hosts of Aramites, Daniel standing before the lions, Peter and John standing before the Sanhedrin, Paul standing before Agrippa, or Jesus standing before Pilate, each, in his time, faced life’s challenges.
And so do we! The question is: “How will we respond whenever we do?”
The answer is simple. Even though we might have great trepidation, and even if we find ourselves fighting back tears in the process, we must boldly step out and face life’s challenges! How can we do this? By adopting the attitude of the Apostle Paul, who (in his New Testament Letter to the Philippians (chapter 4, verse 13), said: “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength!”
And if anyone had the right to say this, Paul did. In his Second Letter to the Corinthians (chapter 11, verses 23-27), he gives us a brief list of the challenges he had to face…
“(I have) been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely (then false apostles), and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one.
Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers.
I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.”
And yet, in each situation, he rose and met the challenge. In each situation, he mustered the courage to stand firm. In each situation, he was more than victorious! In short, he owned it! Not by his own strength, nor by his own skill, nor by his own cleverness, but by Christ who strengthened him!
And what God did for Paul, He will do for us. For we, too, are His children. We, too, are His servants. And if God be for us, who can be against us?!
Given this, I encourage you to remember that life will continue to present you with challenges. Tomorrow, and everyday thereafter, they will surely come! Whenever they do, “man up” and boldly face them. Once you do, you will quickly conclude that “they ain’t no thing no more!”