When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives my brothers, don’t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realize that they come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance. But let the process go on until that endurance is fully developed, and you will find you have become men of mature character with the right sort of independence. And if, in the process, any of you does not know how to meet any particular problem he has only to ask God—who gives generously to all men without making them feel foolish or guilty—and he may be quite sure that the necessary wisdom will be given him. [James 1:2-5 (PHILLIPS)]

When learning to walk, a toddler takes a lot of falls and is likely to get some bumps and bruises along the way. Yet, if we ever want the little guys to walk (let alone run or jump), we need to let them fall once in a while. That’s the only way they’ll ever learn how to how pick themselves up again. Blunders and mistakes are how children learn—they’ll spill milk before they can drink from a cup, scribble outside the lines (and on the table) with their first crayons, have several pairs of wet pants before they’re completely potty-trained, and put their shoes on the wrong feet several times before they know left from right! A few mishaps are all part of growing up.

We all want to protect our children from difficulties, pain and disappointment but, if we don’t let them to struggle and even fail at times, they won’t mature. Without having to solve and survive challenges, they won’t develop into people of character. To achieve their full potential, they have to be allowed a few difficulties and upsets, even if it means they take a fall or two.

While willing to let our children endure life’s challenges in the cause of maturity, we’re not so amenable when difficulties come our way. We may be adults, but we’re still God’s children and He is nothing like today’s “helicopter” parents. He doesn’t hover over us, constantly trying to insulate or shield us from challenges. He hasn’t sanitized everything, padded all the sharp edges, removed every obstacle or barrier, moved everything breakable out of the way, or changed the rules so we’ll never lose. Moreover, He won’t make excuses for us, clean up our messes, give us everything our hearts desire, or do for us that which we should do for ourselves. His love, while extravagant, is a tough love, not one of indulgence, coddling, or leniency.

If anything, God is more of a “free range parent.” While there for us, watching and guiding us when we ask, He gives us free will and the responsibility that goes with that freedom. While allowing us to err and stray, He makes us face the consequences of our erring and straying. He lets us experience distress and challenges and expects us to be responsible in our work and good stewards of our gifts. He won’t tolerate our having a sense of entitlement—humility, service and obedience are more to His liking. His job as parent isn’t to protect us from life—it is to empower us for life. God wants us to become people of character and, if that means letting us misstep, encounter hardship, endure difficulties, and experience failure, so be it. While we may get some bumps, bruises, and even a few scars along the way, we will, eventually, become the people He wants us to be.

Thank you, God, for loving us enough to let us fall and fail and for showing us how to get up and try again.

We don’t think there’s something wrong with one-year-old children because they can’t walk perfectly. They fall down frequently, but we pick them up, love them, bandage them if necessary, and keep working with them. Surely our heavenly Father can do even more for us than we do for our children. [Joyce Meyer]

This doesn’t mean, of course, that we have only a hope of future joys—we can be full of joy here and now even in our trials and troubles. Taken in the right spirit these very things will give us patient endurance; this in turn will develop a mature character, and a character of this sort produces a steady hope, a hope that will never disappoint us. Already we have some experience of the love of God flooding through our hearts by the Holy Spirit given to us. [Romans 5:3-5 (PHLLIPS)]

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