To Go or Not to Go

I have a lot of compassion for the difficulty my teenage daughter has making a decision ““ I can get overwhelmed choosing a color of lipstick at Long’s ““ so it’s no wonder that when she has to make a decision that involves friends, money, and God, it’s not going to be easy.

The specific issue at hand is whether she should go on a youth mission trip to Hawaii ““ a decision that she has been agonizing over for more than a month. Even though she had spent the entire day with Steve and me, she waited until we were just about to get into bed to bring up the subject. In my limited experience with teenagers, there’s a synapse in their brain that fires up at 11:10 pm and information that previously could not be accessed, now starts spilling forth.

Our first question was, “When do you have to decide by?” We were expecting that she would say tomorrow at 8:00 am. But in fact, she has a full week before the decision and money are due, once again showing that she is not a procrastinator. A teenager thinking about something a week before it’s due? That is definitely some long-term planning.

My next question was, “How much?” I’m thinking, “Couldn’t they find a mission field closer to home that doesn’t involve an airplane flight and expensive resorts?” It turns out that it costs $500. For a trip to Hawaii, that’s an absolute bargain. Never mind her going, Steve and I haven’t been to Hawaii in 23 years, why doesn’t she stay home and we’ll go? Serving God among the palm trees with the scent of orange blossoms on a beach without phones or emails sounds great to us.

We shake off the sound of ukuleles and get back to reality”¦for the next 45 minutes we try and bring to light all the issues that she has been wrestling with. Because she often sees me stressed about money, she is concerned about the cost. She sees herself as the “expensive” child because of the lessons and trips associated with her gymnastics.

It’s a good thing Steve is here because it keeps me focused on what is really important: helping her get sort out what she really wants to do. Otherwise, I could be very overbearing and make the decision for her. He asks, “If money were no object, would you want to go?”

She’s torn because she sees it as a valuable service but she’s not sure she if this particular type of service is really her calling. The other kids in the youth group keep asking her if she’s going, but she doesn’t really know any of them well enough to know if she wants to be holed-up with them. She feels like her other activities keep her from participating in a lot of the church outings but she’s not sure if she wants to commit a week of her summer. She doesn’t know if the experience will be worthwhile, but the only way she can find that out is to go.

We get to a point where we’ve probably said everything there is to say about the issue. I don’t know if we helped her in the decision making process, but she said she feels better about it all when she goes to bed. 

However, my head is spinning”¦thank goodness we have three more years before we have to discuss going away to college.

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