I had a fellow coach share this story with me recently.
Two boys were on a walk in the forest when they came upon a frozen river that blocked their path.
They looked up and down the riverbank, but saw no evidence of a bridge to help them cross over safely.
Both boys carefully placed a foot on the surface of the ice and felt how slippery it was.
Then one of them started to tentatively walk across.
“What are you doing?’ the other boy asked. “You’ll fall over!”
“See? I told you so.”
The first boy got up again and carefully took a few more steps.
Crash, bang. He fell down again.
“What are you doing?” the other boy repeated.
The first boy got up again and carefully took a few more steps, limping slightly.
The process repeated itself, until finally, the first boy, bruised and cold from the hard ice, made it across the river.
“I made it!” he proudly exclaimed and then beckoned to his friend. “Now it’s your turn.”
“I can’t, I’ll fall over.”
“Probably, I did.”
“But I’ll hurt myself.”
“Probably, I did.”
“But it’s much safer here.”
“Yes, but this is the side that we wanted to get to.”
“I know, but I can’t.”
The first boy shook his head. “Can’t or won’t,” he muttered to himself as he walked off in the direction of home.
Sooner or later, we all come across frozen rivers like this one.
And we have a decision to make.
Do we take the risk and cross over, knowing that we could slip, fall and suffer pain along the way?
Or do we stay where we are, feeling secure, but knowing that we will never get to where we want in life?
I can say without hesitation, I have crossed my share of frozen rivers and have endured much pain and suffering but I would not be where I am without those experiences and the only regrets I would have would be having not fallen and bruised myself over and over. The lessons I have leaned from those falls has shaped me into who I am today.
Your teens will come across many frozen rivers in their journey to adulthood. Encourage them to cross it and help pick them up when they fall, but saving them from the potential bruising will cause much deeper wounds as they get older.