The first time we took our boys to a climbing gym, they stood close to us and stared up in awe at the sheer height of the climbing walls in front of them.
Adults and kids were hooked up to harnesses, climbing at a variety of different skill levels, but all making their way higher and higher until they reached the top. Our boys looked around at their options and quickly chose a smaller rock climbing structure that looked…safer.
Our boys love to wrestle, plunge cannonballs into the pool, and take all kinds of risks, but since rock climbing was new to them they weren’t quite ready to summit right to the top immediately. We chose not to push them until they explored this unfamiliar terrain.
My husband took the boys to the beginner wall and asked them to each give it a go. If they didn’t like it, they could go back to the rock they had already conquered.
They never went back.
As soon as they stepped out of their personal comfort zones and onto that big wall, they couldn’t get enough. Success was not immediate, but they enjoyed the challenge and built courage to go higher on each climb.
That day at the climbing gym has proven to be full of life lessons on courage and faith that have stuck with them for months.
Life may be more comfortable when we’re all safe, doing what we always do, but we know that faith grows limp and stale in that easy place. Just like the small rock that they climbed at the beginning, we often want to hang out in a comfortable spot — not relying on anyone or anything but ourselves to just get by.
Teaching children to step outside of their personal comfort zones is an important life lesson. It’s scary, but they’ll have to do it over and over again. My family has seen God come through in miraculous ways as we trust Him in these not-so-comfortable endeavors. Only when we step outside of our comfort zones, can we grow and be stretched. Our faith can only be forged and strengthened outside of our comfort zones.
As parents, we get to help our children step out into their own new, scary, and exciting challenges where their faith can grow! Tangible examples like rock climbing are perfect for kids who need to experience this idea physically before applying it mentally or emotionally. If your child is scared to try something new at school, such as speaking in front of a group, try a physical challenge with them to bolster their courage!
Another way I try to encourage boldness in faith with my children is by I also sharing the stories of great men and women of the faith. Missionaries, preachers and many others provide inspiration for us as we learn to move in faith. The student edition of Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas is an excellent read for older children. Not only does the book chronicle the amazing, thrilling life of martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer, it also provides great discussion questions and historical references. Stories like those of Bonhoeffer encourage us in our mission and inspire us to move outside our safe box and provide a great tool to encourage our children to be brave in faith.
I want to raise children who aren’t afraid to risk, step out, or do something new when Jesus calls. Boldness, courage, faith, and trust all grow outside comfort zones.
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What experiences have helped your kids step out of their comfort zones? What are your favorite stories of boldness and faith to share with your kids?