We have been talking about violence in the world today in my last 2 posts and I must admit, it can be very overwhelming and hard to remain positive or hopeful with new reports of violence daily. We know more about what is happening in our local communities, our nation, and around the world, but unfortunately, most of that news entails some type of disorder or bloodshed. Most of us wonder if violence is on the rise, or if technology merely allows us to see more of what happens around the world. Personally, I don’t know, but I do believe that the more we know, the heavier our hearts may feel the weight of such pain and injustice.
photo: eye-for-ebony – Unsplash
Solomon encountered this dilemma in his quest for understanding wisdom, madness and folly, and eventually concluded it was futile: “For with much wisdom comes much sorrow: the more knowledge, the more grief.” Eccl 1:18
He looked at everything that was happening in the world at that time, tried desperately to understand it, but could not. In fact, the more he knew, the greater his frustration. “What is twisted cannot be straightened, what is lacking cannot be counted.” Eccl 1:15
Photo by ilya-yakover on Unsplash
Keeping up with current events can be frightening. There are new reports of violence, murder, abuse, and devastation each and every day. Sensational stories receive the most attention and to an alert and watching child, they may cause fear and anxiety in their young, impressionable mind.
I recognized this when my oldest had to prepare a current events project two years ago which she chose to do on ISIS. As we read a few articles together and discussed the information, she asked me, “Mom, are they coming here?” Will they come for us? ISIS, was after all, in the headlines for their latest string of beheadings of Christians, westerners, and non-converts.
And today, we hear new stories of mass shootings nearly every week… Lord give us strength…
photo: Jordan-whitt Unsplash
Recently, another heartbreaking event occurred. A church massacre left 26 dead and 20 more wounded. And now there has been another school shooting. And unfortunately, we can probably expect more.
We take to social media with comments like, “What do we tell our children? How do we keep them from thinking this is “normal” with new reports of violence, hatred, rioting, etc with each new week?”
Before we address this with our children, we must address this with ourselves. How are we interpreting what is happening all around us? As a Christian, I turn to the Bible to help adjust my view, my perspective on things happening in the world. If I only look from the ground level, I can be filled with fear and hopelessness. I look around and see senseless violence, hatred, and discord, and tremble in fear for my self and my family. But when I pull back to the bigger picture, with a different perspective I find understanding, power, and hope.
With numerous blogs, articles, and testimonials of teens or young adults leaving the church for various reasons, parents have begun to doubt that they no longer hold any power or lasting influence in the faith of their adolescent and young adult children. The media has told us, and we have believed them, that friends, social media, entertainers, and pop culture have the greatest influence in our teen’s lives. Therefore, many parents have given up even trying to guide and direct their teen’s faith, or religious beliefs, out of a growing sense of futility.
Yet this longitudinal study has proven otherwise! In a Huffington Post Blog,The No. 1 Reason Teens Keep The Faith As Young Adults writer David Briggs explains encouraging and surprising results: the connection between children and teens who were raised by parents who “talked about faith at home, attached great importance to their beliefs, and were active in their congregations were themselves religiously active as young adults.”
In fact, Briggs reports that the connection, according to Dr. Smith, the lead researcher, is “nearly deterministic.”
Wow! That’s encouraging to me!
“Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Prov 22:6 (KJV)
In my last blog post, I discussed the critical, yet simple elements of faith for salvation such that one as young as preschool could receive Christ as Savior. However, our work does not end there. In fact, it is just beginning! What we must seriously consider, is our role AFTER a child makes a profession of faith. That rests on us as parents, grandparents, teachers, or mentors in their life.
You lay in bed, trying to sleep, but you can’t. The minutes fly by and soon the hours, but you can’t stop thinking– your brain is going a million miles a minute playing out scenarios, ideas, replaying past events, wondering where you went wrong. You ask why this is happening to you and what you will do about it. You see no answers or easy path forward. You are dealing with anxiety.
Photo by Joe Gardner on Unsplash
Anxiety is worry, impatience, restlessness, unease, or eagerness to see things happen— and if left unchecked can have disastrous effects on our health, relationships, even our faith!
To root out this issue, we have to dig deep.
Most of us believe anxiety is driven by our circumstances – financial instability, conflict in relationships, uncertainty about the future, feeling a loss of control, etc…but those are just circumstances. They are still part of the surface. What is the root problem when I am experiencing the financial instability, a broken relationship, or uncertainty about the future?
I have many friends with stories of pursuing their dream of business ownership. Many of those stories portray success and accomplishment, inspiring onlookers to follow their own dreams and entrepreneurial spirits. Others, however, are stories of loss, betrayal, and bitter disappointment. Some have lost their business, been thrust into uncontrollable debt, or found themselves in prison for illegal activities their partners conducted unbeknownst to them. These stories can be terrifying and make us ask, “Is there any wisdom for choosing a partner that will protect my investment and ensure the greatest opportunity for success?”
Of course, there is risk. Starting a business takes risk– everyone knows that the risk-takers are usually the rain-makers, but some risks may not be worth taking in the long run– like choosing a poor fit to partner with in your new venture. Another term for this kind of partnership is yoking.
Who will you “yoke” yourself to when attempting a big venture?
If you have been around the church for a while, you have probably heard the New Testament caution, “Do not be yoked with an unbeliever” (2 Cor 6:14), which is most often applied in the context of dating and marriage. That is HUGE and I cannot underscore enough the importance of this in the context of personal relationships, but I believe this has a much broader application than most Christians know or practice.
Everyone today seems to be offended by something or by someone…it is the latest victim-mentality of the 20-teens, or whatever we’re supposed to call this decade of the 21st Century. You know how it goes, you do or say something, whether audibly or digitally, something that might reflect your unique feeling, opinion, or perspective on something, without considering if every. single. person. within range would agree with you, and BOOM! Conditions are ripe for offense.
Caleb Woods Unsplash – no alterations
A few weeks ago my toddler and I were having lunch with friends. You know the sitch- we’re talking, laughing, eating our weight in chips and salsa, and the child decides she no longer wants to sit quietly like the perfect little cherub. I feed her chips, one of those brilliant squeezy-pouch applesauce concoctions, and all the chicken from my soup, but she wasn’t having it. Like a fighter pilot in a tailspin, she searched frantically for the emergency ejection button to her highchair, to no avail. She let out a howl here and there, but this was not what an experienced mom like me calls a four-alarm tantrum…nothing requisite of a “trip to the bathroom” or an early departure– she was moderately irritating if I had to be honest.
In light of recent terror attacks in Pakistan (over Easter), Belgium, Mali, Paris, the downed Russian Jetliner, and countless reports of atrocities by terrorist groups worldwide, we may hear our children asking questions like, “Are they coming here? Will they come for us?”
These are natural questions for our kids to ask and if we are honest, we too are wondering the same. Most adults understand that there are gaps in our security and people both abroad and even within our borders who wish to do us harm.
We remember 9/11. We remember Fort Hood…Boston…San Fernadino. Of course there have been others and sadly, we can expect there to be more.
But who wants to get into all of that with our kids? You want to reassure them right? You do not want to feed their fears. You want to give them (and others) peace of mind and hope that although there may be battles to fight, and we may take a few hits, that ultimately we have a greater weapon and will prevail.
One of the most damaging words I ever heard growing up was not a curse word, a name, or anything derogatory, it was something intended to encourage and spur me on towards hard work and self-discipline. But an unfortunate consequence of using this word in this context created a prison of which I still am trying to break free.
It was third grade and our teacher initiated a reward system to encourage good behavior– it was a small gold trophy with a plate stating “Student of the Week” given to one who exhibited the best behavior of all their peers. This was before participation awards and the over-praising of children that we see in society today. A trophy back in 1982 meant you did something awesome, something truly noteworthy. And I wanted one. BAD.
Each Friday afternoon at 2:45, we students sat with rapt attention, hearts pounding, hoping to hear our name called.
Week after week, my name wasn’t called. But I could usually recall an instance where I spoke out of turn, failed to follow directions, or had an issue with a fellow classmate. And since I could identify those infractions, I only worked harder the next week to ensure I didn’t repeat those same mistakes.
I think I am going crazy. There is the pouch of rodent bones, sitting in a bowl in the middle of my dining room table…remains of an owl pellet my son examined in school and brought home with more enthusiasm than a “Terrific Kid” accolade or a perfect score on a test!
I think my son attempted to re-attach a jaw bone with Scotch tape!!!
We oohed and ahhed over the many creatures represented in the regurgitated rodent remains and he placed them in a folded napkin and wrote “Do Not Throw Away!”
Weeks later I found them IN MY BREAD BASKET on the Dining Room Table! Guess this reveals how rarely I actually USE our bread basket, as well as how distracted I have become. Or maybe I’m just crazy?