When in doubt, follow up! This has been consistently true in our parenthood journey. When we follow up, we are thankful! When we don’t, we regret it! Often the first conversation about a situation or topic goes fine, but even deeper understanding is found in the follow up conversations.
This summer we had a loud reminder to this truth. To set the stage, we had a wonderful weekend as a family. We hung out with friends on Friday night. It was our first time spent with friends since quarantine had lifted. Then we kayaked as a family on Saturday. We actually went TO church for the first time since March and had a lazy, relaxing Sunday afternoon. It was an amazing weekend! But the feelings of joy and refreshing came to a sudden halt at 3:00 AM as Nathan and I were startled awake to a loud knock on our front door! Now when I say loud, I mean the door sounded like someone was going to break it down! As we sat straight up in bed, it took us a second to comprehend what was happening. Then we jumped out of bed and started our investigation.
Our First Mistake
We have had teenagers in our neighborhood do late night prank knocks before, but this one was different. It had a sound of purpose and authority behind it. Our minds raced as we tried to determine if the knock was from someone who came in peace or to do harm. As Nathan slowly made his way to the front door we were stunned by a second series of loud knocks. Then, thankfully through the small windows next to our door, Nathan spotted a badge and a uniform. While this brought a sense of relief, we were still unsure of the reason for the visit. Nathan flipped on the lights to indeed reveal that we had a police officer on our front walk wanting to have a conversation. Nathan opened the door, and he was greeted by a concerned officer. The officer then proceeded to explain that our garage door was open, and he was concerned that with the recent burglaries in our area we might have just become the most recent victims.
He had Nathan join him in the garage to make sure that everything was in order and nothing was missing. Thankfully it was just a mistake. We had forgotten to make sure the garage door was closed after our fun weekend. A simple mistake that thankfully didn’t have any lasting consequences.
After the police officer left, we collapsed into our bed recovering from the heart-racing event. It wasn’t two minutes later when we had a boy catapult himself into our bed. Our youngest immediately buried himself in between Nathan and I, obviously scared about the loud knock that woke him from his slumber. We talked through the events of the night and explained how grateful we were that the police officer cared enough to make sure we were safe. Then we prayed. Once he was at peace, Nathan carried him back to his bed. As Nathan settled into bed for the second time, I had a little nudge in my spirit that we should check on the girls to make sure they were alright. Nathan and I talked for a second, and I don’t know if it was the scare or the sleepiness of the night that overtook us, but we decided that the girls were probably fine. Besides, we didn’t want to wake them up and disturb their rest. And we convinced ourselves that if they needed us they would come to us.
Our Second Mistake
It wasn’t until the next morning that we realized we had made our second mistake of the night, and this one did have consequences. The girls HAD heard the knock and they WERE scared! As in, paralyzed scared! One girl had lain in bed and didn’t move for fear that someone would hear her and come and get her. She lay awake for two hours until she asked the Lord to make her fall asleep if it was safe to do so. The other girl had lain in bed imagining scenario after scenario, trying to calm her spirit into understanding why there was a loud knock and then the garage door opened. (Or so she assumed.) Both were alone in their individual rooms trying to survive the night, afraid of what was happening and unsure what to do about it.
In the morning there were lots of questions. I apologized and told them I was sorry I did not obey Holy Spirit’s leading, and I tried to calm their spirits again. Then we went about our day, thankful that the night’s events were behind us. Nathan came home from work that day and still had an unsettled spirit. He suggested we talk about the event again at supper, and the second he brought up the topic the kids immediately flooded us with questions. Obviously a follow up conversation was needed! We took the time to answer questions. We talked about how grateful we were that we had police officers looking out for us. Thankful for the ones that were willing to take the time to go out of their way and put themselves in potential danger to ensure our safety. Then we concluded our time with prayer. We thanked God for the officer. Then we asked God to calm our spirits and then prayed for protection over our homes and over our bodies. After we got done talking, we read and prayed Psalm 91 over ourselves.
You see, purposeful parenting is a commitment to continuous conversations. It is all about initial conversations and about necessary follow-ups. It is about following the Holy Spirit’s guidance the first time, and also being humble enough to follow up when you miss it the first time. Children are constantly interpreting life and we need to be in that conversation with them, making sure they are processing through life’s events correctly. And sometimes that means having the conversation again and again.
Is there a situation or a conversation that you need to follow up on with your kids? Schedule it into your calendar now or else life will get busy and it will slip through the cracks.