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Reflections on Learning to Skate


After church on Sunday the family and I made a quick stop at home to grab some equipment and then we headed to the local outdoor hockey rink to give Jacob a try at ice skating. Our only attempt of 2006 ended after 15 minutes, leaving me with a sore back and seeing Jacob make very little progress. But now it is a year later and I thought the young Gretzky would be more up to the challenge.

After spending 10 minutes getting on his snow pants, jacket, stocking hat, and nearly too small skates we finally made it onto the ice (you can see some pics here). For some foolish reason I was subconsciously expecting Jacob to pick up skating almost instantly. I quickly realized this was not the case and started getting visibly frustrated with him. The longer it took him to meet my expectations the more short and angry I became. My response to his inability was to act out my frustration by jerking his body around and speaking harshly to him. The result of my childish behaviour was that Jacob was crying and wanting to quit, and I was mad and ready to storm home.

I praise God that he showed me, through the words of my wife and the convicting presence of His Spirit inside of me, that I was sinning. My behaviour was no where close to where it should have been. In no way was I demonstrating for my son the loving patience of his heavenly father or living out the Christlike characteristics I desire. Plus I was in danger of passing on sinful patterns of behaviour to Jacob.

Looking back I can see how ludicrous it was to expect my 3 year old to be skating unassisted after just 5 minutes of trying. How sad would it have been for me to ruin my child's budding affection for hockey just because I lack patience? And how tragic if the primary voice he hears in his head as he gets older is me speaking sternly into his ears, "Come on. Hurry up. Why can't you do this?"

I can only thank God for rescuing me on Sunday.

By a simple moment of self reflection (caused by the Holy Spirit working through my amazing wife and my conscience) I was able to turn a disastrous situation into a delightful one. I took some deep breathes and determined to help Jacob no matter how long it took. I stopped scolding him for his failures and started praising him for his accomplishments. Rather than get angry I tried to find ways that I could better support his efforts and create winning situations for the both of us. I started whispering encouragement and satisfaction into his ears rather than commands and disappointment. And now do you know what the result was?

Jacob and I had fun. And we BOTH want to do it again. No he doesn't have skating down yet, but he is eager to try it again. Beyond that, Sunday was a moment for Jacob to hear deep in his heart that his daddy is proud of him. It was an opportunity for feelings of security and accomplishment and love to be seared into Jacob's soul. In a great short post on his blog Casey Ross writes, "Your child needs to know and feel, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that you believe in them. If no one else believes in them, you do." Taking Jacob skating was a time for me to show Jacob that I believed in him and that I would cheer him on no matter what.

I am deeply grateful that despite my sinfulness God intervened to protect the delicate psyche of my three year old. I look forward to spending many more days on the hockey rink with Jacob and Andrew and Izzy. And I pray that God would continue to send his Spirit into my life to bring forth more and more patience (Gal 5:22-23) because I cannot do it in my own.

My Statement of Dedication,
I believe in you Jacob from the bottom of my being. I love you beyond words and you make me smile with deep satisfaction. I thank God everyday that He made me your daddy and I promise to work my hardest at become a whole and holy daddy who can point you towards One infinitely more loving and patient than me.

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