I’ve spent a few posts talking about Christianity, and it’s somewhat brought me off topic for this blog. My goal isn’t to create negative thoughts about what not to believe in or what not to do. My goal is to talk a bit about positive things and paint some pictures that might be helpful to someone out there.

I was out camping this weekend with family and friends. There must have been a dozen boys with us and we were doing all the usual camping things, swimming in the lake, hiking, and s’mores. Of course, s’mores. And where’s there’s s’mores, there’s fire, right?

I like to build and tend a fire. I like to build the right kind of fire for a job, and I don’t like people randomly poking a fire I’ve carefully built. With a dozen boys under the age of eight, “random poking” is about as easy to get rid of as mosquitos. I accepted a certain level of “we cannot help but throw things in the fire,” but when this or that boy was likely to start knocking it out of shape, I chased them off.

And so here I was, with this one friend’s son who kept coming over, and he wanted to poke at the fire so badly, and here I am, gently trying to get him to back off from “my fire.” And it hits me. Why were we here again? Why did we even come out into the woods with our children? Why did we drag them away from their warm beds? It was for a lot of reasons, but for one, we wanted to teach them something about the outdoors. We wanted to teach them the things our fathers had taught us. And here I was, taking a boy who desperately wanted to do something with the fire and chasing him off. How will they learn anything if they’re never allowed to touch?

So I stopped and I taught him. I showed him how the fire was made and why I built it the way I had. I showed him how to break up the coals, and when to leave the fire alone and enjoy it. And that’s all he wanted. I let him pick where to put the logs, and he knew exactly what the fire needed. And when the fire wasn’t catching to new wood, he knew where to blow on it to get it blazing again. And even though he wasn’t my son, I was showing him what fathers know, why you listen to fathers.

When we get so wrapped up in our things, when we find ourselves frustrated with others, look for what others really need. Can we help them, and get what we want in the process? We’re all connected, and we can’t properly grow while holding others back and shooing them away. Help them grow, and hang on for the ride.