Sometimes I need to get out of my element, to get away from my normal routine, to connect…to myself, to nature, or to someone else. I’m so grateful that traveling to Bolivia this summer gave me the break I needed to connect to all three, and especially the third, my 18-year-old daughter Celia.
Flying over La Paz I couldn’t take my eyes off the vast and deep canyons below. They were magnificent and one of God’s most beautiful creations. I was challenged to speak and understand Spanish daily, to meet new people and serve the Monte Rancho community of families. And gratefully, see my daughter with fresh new eyes.
Celia, as the middle child, has had to compete with two strong willed siblings while growing up. However, on the upside, she has developed an incredible sense of self and an ability to analyze and debate any topic. And usually win. As a young child, she always wanted to be with me. As a teenager, I always wanted to be with her. Funny how relationships can change over time.
As Kahlil Gibran wrote in the book The Prophet, (in summary)
“Your children are not your children…They come through you but not from you. And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you. You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth…For even as He loves the arrow that flies so He loves also the bow that is stable.”
I love how I saw my “arrow” fly in Bolivia. I witnessed her empathy for those that have suffered (as she has suffered through Lyme disease and many surgeries and eventually a transplanted ear drum) and sympathy for those in poverty as she has seen, both material and spiritual, that we experience here in our country. I saw her take off using the Spanish language that she had studied so well for 6 years. I saw her strength working as a team with the FH staff and our Faith family that traveled with us.
Half way through our travel, I turned to Celia and smiled. She smiled brightly back at me in response. I realized then that we hadn’t had an argument or disagreement since leaving Colorado. It helped that I wasn’t the boss and having to tell her what to do. We both were followers. It helped that I backed off and stepped back. It changed the dynamic for us where I could travel with her, not making the decisions for her. I believe this is how God helps us parents “grow up” and let go. The bow has to release the arrow in order for the momentum to move forward. As parents, we draw the arrow back, steady ourselves, take a deep breath, aim carefully…and release. And God smiles as the arrow flies. – Janie Hanson Ernstrom, guest blogger