You may remember her story. An elderly woman was shopping at a supermarket when she noticed a younger woman pushing a trolley. In the kiddie seat sat a little girl who was having a meltdown of seismic proportions.
The young mom carried on shopping seemingly unfazed as her daughter shouted and screamed, pouted and wriggled.
“It’s okay, Caroline; won’t be long and we can go home,” the mother said soothingly over and over again. “It’s okay, Caroline. Won’t be long and we can go home.”
The elderly woman was impressed by what she saw. She went over as the younger woman reached up for something from a high shelf.
“Hello Caroline,” she said to the riot-in-a-rompersuit child. “It’s okay, Mommy will be finished soon, and you can go home.”
The mother turned and smiled.
“Oh no,” she said. “That’s Abigail.
For Caroline and many a desperate parent somewhere along the line between toddler tantrums and adolescent angsts, Proverbs 22:6 has been a lifeline: “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Something to hold on to in the storms of life.
But it is not only a future promise. It is also a present-day reality. Because we are the proof of this wisdom saying’s outcome. Much of the way we view and move in the world has been shaped by the way in which we were trained up ourselves, for good or for ill.
That’s why it’s so important for us to look back on our past with a curious eye and an open heart. We must be willing to recognize and appreciate the good we experienced, and willing to acknowledge and face whatever may have been bad.
Only by doing so can build on our strengths and bolster any weaknesses so we might be best equipped to see how true is the way in which we are training up the next generation.
Let’s assume that young mom had tried reasoning with Abigail without success. Did she remember her mother kindly riding out a similar outburst or had there maybe been anger? Whatever her own childhood experience, she chose well in repeating or rejecting.
Photo by Polycart on Foter.com/CC BY