Thursday, July 17, 2014

THINGS I WANT MY KIDS TO KNOW: BE A LEARNER

Continuing my little series of things I want my kids to know - here's the next installment.

Hey Kiddos,

I want you all to be life-long learners.  I really pray and hope for it with all of my heart.  I do believe in absolute truths.  I believe that God is who he says he is - the great God on high, maker of heavens and earth.  I believe that Jesus died on the cross, and that his word is true.  I believe that he asks us to love him and love others.

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Other than that - I still have a lot to learn about life.  In fact, I am learning and discovering new things each day, especially on the days when I am humble enough to recognize that I am broken and fallen and need to be more teachable than I am naturally wired.

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I've been cruising through audio books this summer.  They have served as a wonderful buffer against the mundane of laundry and sweeping, because I can go to another world and have my mind occupied whilst banishing crumbs from every corner of my physical existence.  Or not, as things usually go.  Several of the books have been infinitely sadder than I hoped - for example - I feel like I should have gotten more warning about The Book Thief.  It was an excellent book, but I sobbed through the ending.  We can all pay attention to the fact that it is narrated by Death himself.

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A couple of the books have featured teenaged protagonists, who have been amusing and smart and who have reminded me of my own teenager-hood.  It is becoming a more and more distant past all the time, which is wild to believe.  I vividly remember the summer between my sophomore and junior year of high school.  Though I was 16, I did not find a job, because I knew I wouldn't work during the school year and most places didn't want to hire for just the summer.  This meant that I had an extraordinary amount of free time.  Thinking back - it sounds so glorious.  One of my best friends and I would spend the night at one of our houses.  We would stay up late watching movies or having "deep" talks, and then we would sleep even later.  We would hit up Sonic for a drink and head to the pool to lay out.

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Those were the days.  Sunshine and slushies and seriously believing that we knew about life.  It seemed so easy to boil life down to platitudes and simplicity, which were easily served up in our little corner of the world where things mostly made sense.  I really thought I understood how life worked and that somehow, I was blessed with enlightened insight to the universe.

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Now, more than ever, I have come to the conclusion that I have so much to learn.  And I'm not talking just skills - though there are certainly a great number of skills that I would love to acquire.  I love taking classes and learning.

No - I'm talking about life stuff.  About how life and people work.  About the nitty gritty and the hard, the beautiful and the simple and the ways those things swirl about each other in a hypnotizing pattern that makes up our everyday existence.  It's all there, and there are usually far more layers than I had any idea about as a teenager.

A couple of years ago, your dad had a life coach who had him go through several personality evaluations.  His coach was shocked by the unusual results - one of which showed that your dad has what the coach labeled as a "me/me conflict."  He can so fully see both sides of a situation that he faces a very real conflict inside himself of what to think about things.  While we do regularly joke about his "me/me" complex, it is one of the things I love about him.  He leads with questions before passing any judgement.  He strives to understand, before he strives to be understood.  I have learned so much from his example.

So, kiddos - please pay attention as you go through life.  Ask questions.  Be slow to speak.  Recognize that you have no idea where someone is coming from until you take the time to get to know them.  Know that God created a vast mass of humanity in his image, and parts of God are reflected and refracted in different ways each day as you interact with others.

Be a learner.  Ask God what he wants for you to see in each situation.  He's always working behind the scenes - though it can often be hard to make out exactly what it will look like.  We can trust his goodness.  It lead us to each of you.

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