"Time, which changes people, does not alter the image we have retained of them." ~Marcel Proust
Change. Inevitable. Yes.
My children are entering a new phase in life in about six weeks: regular school. We have been homeschooling for the last three years, and have lived a much different lifestyle than the majority of our culture. I have no qualms with or without homeschooling, mind you. It is simply a changing season in our family life. I’m okay with that.
So I went down to the charter school, complete with its high, fenced-in grounds and 24/7 locked doors, where my older two will be attending, to fill out some forms. Immediately I noticed something. The playground area is cement. Almost as if involuntarily, my mind began back-pedaling, racing, actually, to re-compute everything; to double-, triple-, even quadruple-check, that our decision really was in fact, the right one.
When I was in elementary school, our playground was largely dirt, but also grass. When someone fell, it was okay. But cement? That was so... city. Well, we live in a city. And this school is right in the heart of “city,” complete with less-than-desirable activities happening all around in this particular not-so-good neighborhood. But the school is what we know is right for our girls, with its particular programming. This is the right place. But a cement playground?
I began thinking about my childhood and all that it entailed. But now, looking through wisdom-enhanced vision into the recesses of my memories, I see that there were many things that went so completely unnoticed by an 8-year-old mind. Life was seemingly perfect. The reality was that bills were always a struggle to be paid. Drugs were a very real part of our small-town culture--our family just didn’t participate in it. People cheated in relationships. Many got divorced. Some people actually didn’t attend church. And so on... I never would have imagined these atrocities were going on in our small town, much less in the world! Naivety. Childishness. It abounded. And I’m glad it did.
At the age of 16, some friends of our family got a divorce. It was the first divorce in my life, and it shattered my world. I became so extremely jaded about everything. If Jonas* and Tabitha* could split up and actually divorce, then anything evil was possible. And then to hear what truly went on behind closed doors... It was so surreal and way too much for me. Something inside my mind kind of snapped. I truly couldn’t handle it. I remember thinking that everything I thought I knew was just a big lie.
So, here I sit, putting this all together, this past and present pondering, like a complicated jigsaw puzzle. I realize that while my childhood was largely based on a veiled reality, I am okay with that. I have fond memories. But I also wonder to myself why, oh why, would I want to pass this down to my own kids. I wonder just how much more effective I could have been for the Kingdom had I been even a bit more aware of reality.
Today is so very different than yesterday, and my children already have seen more and have heard more than I did at their ages. The world is so different. I can’t give them the grassy playgrounds of yesteryear. I can’t pretend to them that crime and godlessness doesn't happen. It hurts my heart to know that my childhood will never be something I can successfully pass on to these beautiful miracles, but I know this is truth. This is reality.
This thing is, we have been living in a sin-infested world since the day Adam and Eve chose their own wishes over God’s. Time, people, and traditions all have changed. The constants that have been there are Truth and Death. I can choose to get depressed about this, or I can do something dramatically different and choose to look through God’s eyes in every situation. With the help of the Holy Spirit, I can see people for the lost souls they really are, and love and pray for them. I can actually train my children in this way, and give them something I really didn’t have the know-how to do when I was their age: seek after God with all my heart... To run after Him without stopping... And to learn what (Who) Love really is.
So they have a cement playground. So what? They also have the strongest protector living right inside of them. No matter what. And I am so very thankful for young faith. Whether it’s a skinned knee or a sharp word, the same Holy Spirit inside of me has already taken up residence in their impressionable little lives, and I can rest in that completely.
"You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.
"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
*Names were changed, of course.