The husband and the boys watched 'The Long Way Down', a documentary following Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman, travelling from Scotland to Cape Town, via Europe and Africa, on their BMW GS R1200s. (I had to look it up but the husband will appreciate the detail). And the day came, where he went off to his driving test, all of us hopeful and wishing him well and we excitedly hoped for the best, waiting to hear the good news, which didn't quite come. He hadn't done it. Dad, who can pretty much do anything didn't pass his bike test.
Instead, we had to all deal with the disappointment. He was sad. I was sad and the lads were sad too. We had put high hopes in him passing.
However, the day came for the husband to go off for the test once more. Hope restored. Fresh excitement in the house. Until of course, the second 'fail' was given. Oh man, that was tough for him, tough for them, and tough for me. Probably toughest for him, I expect.
In the midst of the house's disappointment, I decided to use it as a teaching moment.
I personally think it was good for the boys to see their dad 'fail', as a lot of the time he is of course, their hero. It was a great chance to talk into disappointments, which we all live with, explaining to the boys that "suffering produces perseverance, perseverance produces character and character produces hope". It is important for the boys to see that dad isn't a perfect standard. Anything which teaches them that we, their parents, are fallible, just like they are, has to be a good perspective producer for the kids. We then get to point them to the One whose standard is perfect and who never fails.
The husband just loved hearing me tell the boys that daddy's character was being shaped and that he was learning what to do with disappointment. He was deciding whether or not that disappointment was going to rule him. Was it going to define him? How was it going to shape him? He got to make those decisions with four sets of eyes watching him, and with a wife teaching into it all. The boys' dad had to hand even a failed motorbike test over to God. He knew he couldn't sit in it and wallow, although the temptation was great.
There is a verse in Proverbs which says; "Hope deferred makes the heart sick". Disappointment can literally leave our hearts feeling sick. And it can come in any form; a failed motorebike test, expectations which weren't met, someone let us down, promises which seem unfulfilled. We do have a choice to sit in the midst of the disappoinment, or try to climb out of it. Sometimes it feels nice to sit in that pit for a while, and throw a little pity party for ourselves. Thankfully Jesus came to sit in the pit with us, listen to us, and then drag us out of the pit, if we reach our arm out to Him of course.
One of the hardest things about parenting is walking out what I believe the Bible says. I can teach them stuff every day, all day, about all kinds of things, but unless I'm facing things honestly with them, talking about my own failings and disappointments, and walking them through it the other end, via the cross, my words are pretty empty. They learn more from what I do, than what I say. I wish it were the other way round.
A few weeks later, one of the boys felt they had failed a test they were sitting at school, and the husband, possibly with slightly gritted teeth, got to talk to him about what is important in life and how the things we go through do indeed shape us. I smiled sweetly at the husband as he got to share his disappointments with our boy. A learning curve for us all. How we need to go through disappointments and even fails, in order to realise that our standing in God never changes, even when we fail Him, or let Him down.
The husband would no doubt like me to add that he did go on to pass his motorbike test, buy said precious beaut, and indeed travel around Europe on it, looking uber cool of course.