Driving leisurely down a beautiful country road that leads to my house, I was deep in thought about my daughter who is currently going through a difficult time.
If you are a parent, you'll know what I mean when I say ... when your child hurts, you hurt.
Add a lot of frustration on to that, because no matter what you do, you can't wave a magic wand and make it all better.
Bursting into my reverie was the appearance of a deer crossing the road in front of me. I slowed down to let her have safe passage. She came to a halt on a small wooded hillside and turned toward the road. Watching. I thought she was watching my car.
I came to a complete stop when I spied a very young fawn on the opposite side who appeared to be uncertain what to do. I could almost imagine what it was thinking-- "Follow Mama or stay where it's safe?"
It finally made a decision and ran as fast as its little legs could take it across the road. It stopped once it reached the grassy edge. I could tell it had seen Mama. I could almost feel Mama Deer's silent urging for her young one to come to her so they could safely go on their way into the forest.
Ahhhh. But that little stinker looked at Mama Deer and with a defiant flick of its white tail, took off in a different direction. Mama Deer's head turned and watched where it went. I could almost imagine her disbelief that her child was disobeying her direction. I could feel her frustration at her wayward little one.
Little One stopped and looked back where Mama Deer stood. I could almost feel the tug-of-war of wills going on.
Finally, Mama Deer was the one to break the stalemate and walked over to her obstinate youngster, nuzzled it and then led the way through a leafy green thicket, with the fawn trailing behind. She slowly began circling back to the original direction she had planned on going all along.
I stayed and watched until they were out of sight.
I was enthralled with the little animal drama I just witnessed. And I wasn't immune to the lesson pointed out to me.
How often do we watch our children go off in directions we disapprove of? Sometimes they make mistakes along the way and have to pay a price. Sometimes we can divert disasters or heartache by guiding them back to the right path until they are ready to be on their own.
But what do we do when they're old enough to make and follow their own paths into the forest and still get hurt?
What would Mama Deer do then? Because in the animal world, someday Mama Deer and Little One will no longer have a relationship. Little Deer will someday be totally on its own. No Mama Deer will be there to protect him and keep him safe. Little One will have to rely on everything it learned at its mother's side.
And boy. Don't we wish all the paths our Little Ones follow in life keep them safe and happy ever after?
But unlike Mama Deer when her Little One reaches maturity, I have the opportunity to be here for my daughter when a path she chose came to a dead end, leaving her unsure about the future, even though all I can offer is the safe haven of my arms and a listening ear.
I am so proud of her and the strength she is showing in this time of a major life changing event. Each day she is growing more sure of herself and the decisions she is making.
I just read this morning in an email these words: "God didn't promise days without pain, laughter without sorrow, sun without rain. But He did promise strength for the day, comfort for the tears, and light for the way."
I think that just about says it all. We Mama Deer wish the same for our Little Ones when they venture out on those paths through the forest of life.