Think of life as a journey on a narrow ledge. There is a peril to the right and the left so we must pay attention to every step.
Proverbs 4:25-27: “25 Let your eyes look straight ahead;
fix your gaze directly before you.
26 Give careful thought to the[a] paths for your feet
and be steadfast in all your ways.
27 Do not turn to the right or the left;
keep your foot from evil.“
Is Careful Thought Needed?
Some people will look at this and see it as a form of chicken little. They will see this as a “the sky is falling” warning that over-dramatizes the dangers of life. That may be the case. However, let’s step back and think about how fragile our life is. A wrong step can cause simple things like a twisted ankle all the way to finding yourself in front of oncoming traffic. Of course, that is not always a concern. You are not likely to misstep coming out of your bedroom and end up in front of an oncoming bus.
When we look at decisions, and virtual steps rather than physical steps things become dicier. Do we always know the context of our decisions? We know we are pretty safe stepping across our bedroom floor (unless your kids leave Legos and other toys laying around). That is because we know the context of each step. We may not know the peril we are in with our conversations for example. How often have you stumbled across a subject that is highly sensitive without knowing it?
It Comes Back to Patience and Deliberate Choices
Once again we find ourselves being led toward patience and careful consideration. This is where we see that the old “fools rush in…” statement is as much about the rushing as it is “where angels fear to tread.” Life is full of choices and the push to inculcate that concept into the minds of our children is a good one. The idea of good kids and bad kids is being replaced with those that make right or wrong choices. Yes, it can remove the black and white concepts of good and evil, but that may not be a bad thing.
Good people make bad choices. On the other hand, bad people can make good choices. I think that when we see each option as a choice in itself and avoid weighing it down with the impact of past choices, it can help us break cycles. Ths is important to a child. They may have made a long string of bad choices and be able to nullify the negative impact of those with a good choice. However, they also may be able to offset a lot of good with a single bad decision.
Teaching Children this Wisdom
There are a lot of valuable nuggets in these few verses. We can cover a lot of concepts that kids will benefit from. However, let’s keep it simple for now. We can focus on the idea of decisions being independent of each other even when they don’t seem to be. A great example of this is a coin toss. This is also a good lesson in probability and statistics.
Consider a series of five coin tosses. What is the probability that they are all heads? You can use Google to find that it is 1 in 32. If you get five heads in a row, what are the odds the next toss will be a head? It is one in two (heads or tails). The past attempts do not weight down the latest one. A single coin toss could start a series of tails and turn around that string of heads.