Life doesn’t come with a manual, it comes with a mother. -Robin Jones Gunn
Trusting someone to guide you, blindfolded, to an unknown destination can create a lot of anxiety. Putting complete trust in someone else to lead the way means giving up control — control over your own steps. It requires the ability to put aside leading yourself, and instead, giving that responsibility over to someone else. What better relationship to experience “letting go” of control than within a mother/daughter pair?
My daughter and I took part in a trust walk at our last Courageous Girls gathering. Each of the girls was asked to put on a blindfold and we (the mothers) were to lead them, by voice alone, on whatever path we decided to take them on around the property. I could see the hesitation of the first few steps my daughter took, as she shuffled her feet along the deck and instantly put out her hands in front of her, hopeful she’d touch something to give her a sense of security. I simply told her to trust me; I had no intention to harm her. Along the way, I let her know when she was walking through wide open spaces, or going up a hill, or if she needed to step down and take cautious steps.
The more we walked along, the more she relaxed; even her pace picked up a little bit from when she first started. Her nervous laughter conveyed she was enjoying the experience with mom, and although she felt a little insecure, it was obvious she had put her trust in me. I remember one section of the path in particular, where there were some random holes in the ground. I was sure to steer clear of those but made no mention of them as she journeyed on. With my eyes glued to the ground, she stepped one foot after the other, avoiding any sort of obstacle along the path. She had no idea how closely and intently I paid attention to the path before her, or how anxious I felt knowing that she was putting her complete trust in me.
Then it was time to reverse the roles. As her mother, it was now my turn to put on the blindfold. I felt a little bit insecure. Which unknown path was she about to take me on? Then I remembered how she had put her trust in me, and that made me more confident to put my trust in her.
She challenged me right from the beginning, taking me up concrete steps with no railing to hold onto and forcing me to listen carefully to each of her words so I wouldn’t trip up the stairs. Eventually, I was able to figure out that some of the terrain I was being led through was of the exact path I had just taken her on. I found it reassuring that she chose to lead me on “familiar ground,” when she could have taken me on a completely different path. I also remembered the area peppered with lots of holes, raising my nervousness. I asked her to be cautious, closely watching the ground as I walked along.
At points along the way, she would describe a tree branch or another obstacle nearby; when I lifted my hands, I felt it. Along a path filled with lavender bushes, she told me that I might hear buzzing honeybees. Hearing those words, I chose to keep my hands tucked closely to my chest, avoiding being stung. Accidentally, she led me to a dead end. She asked if I wanted to climb over the bush or go back around a different way. My daughter gave me so much comfort, praising me along the way. I would take 10 steps forward, as she asked me to, followed by, “you did it,” and “good job, mom!” My confidence soared with her encouraging words and it felt like I was able to walk at a quicker pace.
Although both of our experiences started cautiously, the encouragement and trust we had in each other allowed this experience to be a positive one. We didn’t trick each other or lead one another to places we shouldn’t. Our mutual respect for one another is the foundation of our mother/daughter bond and allows us to have a trusted relationship.
There are lessons from our trust walk that can be transferred to any mother-daughter relationship and built upon in life. Here’s what spoke to me:
When we got to the part of the walk with holes in the ground, I had the ability to let my daughter know that I had walked this same path before. I had already seen the holes along the way. Similarly, I have experienced life situations that align with ones she is having as a young teen.
The “holes” she faces might look different than my own teenage experience, but I remember the feelings, thoughts, and pressures of that season of life, and do have important, trustworthy advice to give her.
When she led me to a dead end, there was an opportunity to admit mistake. It could have happened with either of us. Similarly to the trust walk, there are times in life we might lead each other down a path that stops abruptly, or one where we realize we are heading in the wrong direction. This would be an ideal time to ask each other: Do you want to jump over this hurdle, or try a different way? Too often, we feel ashamed when mistakes happen and want to avoid confessing the mistake. Blindfolded, I would not have known she had led me to the dead end if she had not openly chosen confess this to me. Trust is built with open communication, especially regarding the twists, turns, and dead-ends that are sure to be found throughout life.
The low-hanging tree branches were never actually in my sight. My daughter told me they were there, but I didn’t feel them or realize they were within my reach until I reached my hand up and could tell how close they were. It reminds me how there is temptation all around us; low-hanging lures that might get us caught up in something other than God’s plan for us, if we look away from God’s path/plan for too long. It’s important to not leave a “blindfold” on for too long. Things that might distract us or make our path unclear (blindfolds) are bound to come and go in life (think new friendships, boys, work deadlines, addictions, etc.). Having a trusted person walking through life alongside you is wise and beneficial. This person can gently warn you to “steer clear” of branches and other roadblocks; helping you to keep your eyes wide open could save you from heartache or avoid something that would bring harm. Ideally, this is the epitome of a mom’s role in her daughter’s life. We’re not walking our daughters’ paths for them; we’re simply guiding and cautioning them with the wisdom and love that God gives us as moms.
Most importantly, there is a lesson to capture from my daughter’s loving and encouraging words. She didn’t wait until the very end of the trust walk to let me know I had done a good job. She was encouraging and cheering me every step of the way. The “you did it” builds confidence in trusting someone else. Not only confidence in our trusted relationships, but in a God who helps us along the way. Having an encouraging truth-teller in life helps us see the better path and keeps us taking steps forward, even when our own fatigue, doubt, or fear might keep us rooted in place.
Ideally, a trust walk is a regular practice; one that reminds us of these important lessons. It is a reminder that we can be trusted, and that we can also TRUST OTHERS, even our own teens! Practicing when to trust and who to trust is vital in all our growth. This is a powerful lesson in a season of life that can often be filled with turbulence and “holes.” We can use our words to express our needs and allow one another to take turns guiding the way. Consider each role – leading and following. What is there for you to learn in your own trust walk with your teen daughter? What is there for you to learn in your own trust walk with God?
Written by Heidi Boos