A relative of ours likes to say Ben and I worry about everything.
I hope they're wrong about the "worry". I think we see things differently. A lot of things seem dangerous to us that seem friendly to others. I think we're cautious, not anxious.
Splitting hairs? Not really. "Worry" is something old ladies do when they won't let you pick up a grocery bag because it might be too heavy for you and hurt your back. "Caution" is something a soldier uses in enemy territory when he enters a space carefully with his gun ready instead of assuming he's safe.
We're commanded not to worry ("worry doesn't add a day to your life," Jesus told his followers once). We're also commanded to put on the armor of God and be careful to maintain it. You don't wear armor unless there's an imminent threat. When someone wears armor, they're prepared for a fight. When you're prepared for a fight, it's because you have enemies who want to kill you.
The older I get, the more I realize how thoroughly our enemies have invaded almost every part of normal life. Because we do have enemies. We have enemies who want to separate us from God. We have enemies who want to take our kids from us - at least in mind if they can't manage it in body - and separate them from God if they can't get us.
When I was young, my parents decided to get rid of their TV. It was a good decision. A friend once described a television as a giant sewer pipe pumping into the living room - as many people said, there were good things on TV...but you had to dig them out of the muck and a lot of it got on you in the process.
Today, it seems like TV is the least of our concerns. We have phones that can bring more of the Enemy and his philosophies into our home than all the TV stations available when I was a kid. Phones! In our pockets!
There is no way to guard against all of it, no way to shut our kids off from the sources like there was by just taking the TV away.
I'm stunned at the level of threat existing around us. I must be naive, because I never saw the tool to bring down whatever was left of our society's morality being the undermining of our very genders, the insistence that now we are required to make a decision whether or not God made a mistake when he made us men, women, or even Human. If this isn't the height of chaos, I don't know what is. You can't watch cooking shows without this agenda being pushed, made normal, brought to the forefront of our attention. Bring up a search bar on your phone and it handily fills in what it assumes you might like to search - "impeach Trump". Even my search bar has a chaos agenda!
It's easy to assume there are safe places and dangerous places in the world but that dangerous places are easy to spot. They're not. Increasingly, the places we've been conditioned to trust - churches, for instance - are just as dangerous as the places we were taught danger lived, like bars or clubs.
Thing is...the way to protect our children has never been to simply remove them from all danger. It's to teach them how to wear armor and use a sword. And to go through every doorway with weapons drawn, because it's foolish to assume any space is safe.
Yep, we look like worriers. Paranoid. Purveyors of tinfoil hats..
But in the end, I'm hoping we're actually warriors and we have a chance of raising our kids to be the same.
When we go out in public, we attract a lot of attention these days.
We're hardly the Duggars, but it's not that common to see families with three small children under four. We must look like a variety show. And as I remember from childhood in my own family, people have this inexplicable urge to stop us for two reasons:
1.) To tell us how beautiful our children are; and
2.) To then tell us how much we're going to regret having them when they're older
Part of me thinks this might just be Human nature. If you see someone with something good, you have to bring them down a notch or two. Instill some fear into those smiling faces. Let 'em know it's not all fun and games down the road. You're going to have THREE WEDDINGS to pay for, you realize. And college. And braces. And heaven help you, those girls are going to start dating at 15 and you can't stop them. Got your shotgun ready, Dad?
Well, no. To be honest, I haven't even thought about weddings. Boyfriends aren't concerning, I'm not sure college has anything to offer our girls they can't get at better quality somewhere else. At the moment I'm mostly concerned with making sure everyone has shoes on the right feet and is sitting peacefully in the cart without falling out while standing to get a better look at something. The future is certainly there, definitely needs planning for, but is it really so bleak?
I wonder if this has always been the way older parents spoke to younger ones. "Wow Noah, nice boys...just wait till they're older and they're not so interested in helping you with this whole ark project..."
Or is this general discouragement about children a product of our selfish, greedy society? All the tools parents and children ever had to live with and enjoy each other are being systematically stripped away - parents can't discipline their children, children can't respect their parents, etc., etc. It's a bleak outlook for most young families, the future most likely being one in which children and parents drive each other crazy, institutionalizing each other in turn in bizarre imitation of the circle of life until the parents die and the children are left struggling with their own offspring.
One older father from Lebanon told us last week, "Yeah, I was one of ten, but in this country you can't have children like that. They want too many expensive things. You just can't afford big families. I took my son to get new shoes and he wanted to get a pair for $176 and we compromised on $150. No way he'd live like I did wearing my older brother's clothes. Three children is enough, believe me."
It wasn't the right time to tell him we'll have four by November, if God is willing.
I'm reminded almost daily about a seemingly small, maybe insignificant to most, promise contained in the words of Gabriel to the incredulous Zachariah concerning the imminent arrival of Elijah, aka John the Baptist: "He will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to the fathers."
It's a recall of the prophecy given to Malachi: 5“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. 6And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”c (Malachi 4:5-6)
This is a stunning prophecy. It's even more amazing in light of the common relationship between parents and children today. We don't have each others' hearts. We're separated right from birth (it's frequently advised that young mothers leave their infants with others frequently so the kids can "get used to it") and everything about our world teaches the separation is good, wise and necessary. Children have to make their own way. Parents need to focus on their lives apart from the children because when the children leave the parents need to have some other life to fall back on. No matter how much we love each other, we were born to be separated and that's just how it is.
That's apparently not quite the way it's supposed to work in the Kingdom of Heaven. The outlook isn't supposed to be bleak. We're supposed to be able to be together in heart if not always in body. We're not supposed to be a burden on each other. I am overwhelmingly grateful to the rare few who come up to us and say, "Beautiful children. You've been very blessed" with no caveats, no warnings of a grim future, no dire predictions of how much we're going to suffer at our childrens' hands.
Boy, if there were ever a promise to cling to...this one about the Kingdom being a place where the hearts of children and fathers are turned toward each other is high on the list.
Wife of Benjamin and mother to two wonderful little girls who are getting bigger every day. Enjoys writing down thoughts and discussions we are having within the family and sharing them with whoever is interested in reading.
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