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The Perfect Parachute for the Launch
On Watching My Children Become Adults
It’s like I spent 18 years packing a parachute, being diligent to choose the perfect fabric and the strongest cords—not the most flashy, but the most proven and reliable.
I made sure the knots were tied tight, then double checked them.
I triple-stitched the straps, tight to the pack, and selected a parachute that's strong, wide, and capable of carrying very heavy things. I modified it a bit to make sure it was just right.
I created the entire system with a backup plan, just in case it didn’t work as expected.
I had my child test it a few times. They seemed to like it reasonably enough. It seemed to be a good fit.
Then I took that parachute and handed it to my child to keep. I didn’t have the courage to place it on them myself, even though I didn’t know a single way I could have made it better. I had given it my very best shot.
I stood back and watched them pick it up, strap it on their bodies, and jump out of the airplane. I simultaneously watched in amazement at their courage and bravery and felt the overwhelming urge to throw up.
Through a crack between my hands, I watched as they extended their arms and began to fly.
I couldn’t control where they were going. I suddenly realized, “Oh my gosh, I can’t control anything!” They aren’t going exactly where I thought they’d go. Actually, they are heading in an entirely different direction.
“Pull the cord!” I yell, but they don’t hear me. They are navigating the air currents the way that seems best to them.
I wish the currents would ease up a bit, because I suddenly realize there are holes in the parachute—the one I worked so diligently to make. I felt proud of my workmanship. I thought it was so secure. I thought it could reliably take them from the airplane to the solid ground with a fun ride, but their bodies intact. Until this moment.
How did I not see they would need a different skill for the sudden downdraft?
Why did I pick that fabric, when the time of their launch ended up being in a torrential rainstorm?
Darn it, I forgot to sew that seam! It seems I just ran out of time.
As I count the ways I’ve fallen short, something happens. I watch them take the fabric and piece it together in a new way I never anticipated. They pull rolls of extra-strength duct tape (which I didn’t know they had) out of their pockets and begin to patch the parachute together, making it stronger. They pull the strings, and they begin to fly up and over and into a beautiful place I never would have thought of or imagined they would find.
It turns out the parachute I made them wasn’t intended to carry them to the ground safely. Instead, I was simply giving them what they needed to make that parachute their own—changing, reforming, modifying, and adding to it, as they learn what it means to fly.
Isaiah 40:30-31 Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
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