My younger daughter is playing on a girls’ hockey team in Minnesota this summer. No, we don’t live in Minnesota. As a matter of fact, we live about 7 hours from Minnesota.
We had some really good reasons for letting her play in Minnesota this summer. It was only seven weekends. My parents were willing to go for a weekend so we wouldn’t have to. We wanted her to have the opportunity to play with girls. It wasn’t that expensive. We could go most weekends as a family.
It hasn’t turned out the way we planned. The schedule has changed four times. Our older daughter has had a conflict with nearly every weekend. What was supposed to be a couple of fun family trips to Minnesota this summer has turned out to be more weekends of splitting our family up. Because of the schedule changes, my parents haven’t been able to take her for a weekend. We’ve discovered traveling to Minnesota for a couple of days is exhausting for both her and us.
What was supposed to be a couple of fun weekends in Minnesota has turned into a lot bigger strain on our family than we anticipated. If we had the decision to make again, we would probably choose differently.
As I sit here on Monday facing another trip to Minnesota without the other half of my family on Thursday, I realize that our decision to let our daughter play hockey in Minnesota is not that different from any other parenting decision. We all face choices where we think we’re making the right choice and doing the right thing for our kids. We’ve prayed about it. We’ve talked it over. We’ve weighed the pros and cons. Then it doesn’t turn out like we thought it would.
When that happens, we have choices. We can choose to wallow in the defeat of making a wrong decision or we can choose to learn from our decision and do a better job the next time.
As parents, it’s so easy to get caught up in the guilt of a decision gone bad. We feel like we’ve failed our kids. We look back and think of all the things we could have done differently. We desperately wish we could fix what’s gone wrong.
But the truth is, we’re not perfect parents. Sometimes we miss the mark. Sometimes we choose poorly. Sometimes we can have all the information and make the best decision possible with the information we have — and the information changes after we choose.
And you know what? Those decisions, those failures, are actually good for us and good for our kids. It’s important that we remember that we aren’t perfect. It’s important for us to remember that no matter how great our failings as parents, God’s got our kids in the palm of His hands. It’s important for our kids to see us fail — and recover from failure — because they are learning how to deal with failure from us.
Those decisions that we make that don’t work out the way we planned aren’t proof that we’re bad parents. They’re proof that we’re human. They’re proof that we need to rely on God. They’re proof that even in the midst of plans gone awry that we can count on God to fulfill His promise in Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose.”
Because even when we make decisions that don’t turn out the best, God can use those situations for good. He can use them to further His kingdom. He can use them to change us and our kids.
Even though our Minnesota weekends haven’t turned out like we thought they would, we are getting some great one-on-one time with my younger daughter. She is getting to meet and play with girls. My older daughter is getting the benefit of some one-on-one time at home. And my husband and I are learning to appreciate being together when we are home together.
None of us are perfect. We’re all going to make decisions we wish we hadn’t made, but God can take those tough situations and botched decisions and make something beautiful.
We don’t have to be perfect parents. We don’t have to get it right 100 percent of the time. We just have to trust that God is bigger than our messes and that He can work everything together for good.