"So, honestly, how are you preparing
your kids for the REAL world?"
People ask this when they find out we educate at home. People ask this when they find out we censor what our children read and watch. People ask this when they find out we do not have TV or video games. People ask this when they hear we teach the gospel in our home. People ask this when I tell them I don't believe in kids being over-scheduled and peer-reliant. People ask that question a lot.
My answer always sits somewhere between, "Well, it depends how you view 'the world'..." and, "May I ask how you feel you are preparing your child for the 'real' world so I can understand what you mean by that question?"
I'm a follower of Jesus. For me, He is the 'world'. The world is measured by graces. My whole life is one big, fat, undeserved pile of grace. I'm a sinner, I deserve nothing, yet, through God's mercy, I know Him and have a personal, intimate relationship with the Heavenly Father. My life has literally, in every sense of the word, been SAVED by the love of God and through Jesus Christ. Everything I have - my family, my friends, this beautiful world I get to live in, the sunrise, the snow, the flowers in spring... it's all a gift. The REAL world is about living to accept God's gift and living that life with thankfulness and reverence to God.
Yes, at times, I'm sucking at it... but praise God, I'm allowed to fail and flail and mess up and fight to get back on track. He freely forgives... and I'm getting better, which I guess is the journey part. But, I'm trying to live life as though this earth were a footstool and heaven, the throne. This life is a moment, it's a fleeting spatter of time. It is but preparation for what is to come... the afterlife of Heaven and paradise with Jesus. This is what disciples of Jesus believe. Or at least, it's what we're supposed to cling to.
I want our kids to see the REAL world as a place where we fill our jars only for the purpose of spilling them out again for the sake of others. I don't want them to live for the rat race of filling, filling, filling to only screw that cap on tight and stockpile that which is not ours to keep.
To help clear up the unending questions, I thought I'd share a list of the most important things for us when it comes to raising our children:
1. That they know God, love Jesus, and walk in His will for their lives, no matter what that will might be.
2. That they have deep inner peace and joy only found through a life of generosity, gratitude and a wide-eyed wonder to all the beauty with which God has surrounded us.
3. That their 'earth life' would be a testimony to others, showing the love of Jesus through their very hands and feet so they may draw others closer to our Savior so they can discover for themselves this amazing gift of grace we've been given.
4. That they would truly understand and help others understand that life is about that Jesus-sized hole inside of us all only Jesus can fill. Nope, it can't be filled in any other way - not with money, career, sex, success, possessions, power, or academic success *cough*. So, selling all our stuff and giving to those in need is far more valuable than having a big house and a fancy car.
And when I say these things are foundational for raising our children, they are also foundational for raising myself. We are on this journey together and we haven't yet arrived.
So, am I preparing our kids for "REAL" life? The answer to this question lies in the fact that every single thing I do is done with our children's destiny and journey towards real, true, passionate, genuine LIFE in mind. LIFE for God. LIFE for others. LIFE fully LIVED. Not life of world success and 'fitting in' with peers and looking good on a resume. I desire for my children to thrive spiritually and through their strong, unshakable foundation built on faith.
They may not watch the newest movie or be 'up' on what's cool, but they watch the sunrise and have a living relationship with the Holy God. They don't go to school and hang out with their peers all day long, but they walk every day with a family that loves them unconditionally, no matter what. They have the undivided, love-drenched attention of a devoted Mom all day long. Not a perfect Mom, a devoted Mom. An imperfect, grace-awakened Mom. No pretenses, no falseness - just love in its truest form.
A very wise woman wrote recently, "Love is the only education", and I agree with this notion. Imagine if the whole world was schooled in love?
Our children lack nothing. In fact, I believe their life is rich in every way possible - please stop asking me if and how I'm preparing my children for the REAL world just because we believe in limiting how we allow the 'real' world to tell us how to live. I believe preparing ourselves for life in this REAL world means having God at the center, firm values, roots down deep in love, and razor sharp priorities... gaming and toob watching just doesn't fit the mold.
"I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes."
Oh, that our children would learn to live the "yes" to Jesus and to His gifts. Live with wide-eyed wonder all the days of their earthy lives. And we instill it. We breathe it. Every day.
And yes, I know the REAL world wants to burst my bubble. To tell me this is a ridiculous, idealistic view and no one can actually LIVE like this. Being unplugged is but a dream. But don't we live with choice? Yes, I know, the "REAL" world has TVs. I studied how to manipulate people with the box for six years. Our children are all under six years old. When they are older, they will learn MUCH about the reality of the world we live in and how desperately this world and our Enemy wants to snatch their joy and purpose by hypnotizing them into a life of consuming what will never fill.
Yes, welcome to the REAL world... "Buy, want, need, take, live for yourself, build up your fortune... stock it up... store it up... the better you look to everyone else, the better you'll feel inside..." and that's the lie. And then at the end, when the lights are fading, see how quickly all turns to dust and we are left with only our souls and only what truly mattered. Not the riches, not the status - nothing but how we used our one life to love as Christ loved.
I don't want my kids to ever have regrets about how they lived their one life. And the daily surrender to self and the daily commitment to teaching them how to live their one life well in light of the cross - that is who I've become. It is my calling in this season of life.
We unplug because we WANT to prepare our children for the REAL world - the very REAL fact that the whole of this life only prepares us for and determines our eternal life is the entire point. If you prepare your kid to 'get good grades', 'relate to their peers', 'excel at extra-curriculars', 'go to post-secondary school', 'excel at that', 'save money', 'build a great career', 'buy a big house', 'make sure you have a retirement plan', - what are you teaching them that truly matters? If they know not Jesus, they know not LIFE. I'm far more concerned with eternity than I am with this little blurp here on the green and blue sphere.
Worldly education is no education at all -
it's just the kind you need to undo and do-over when
you grow up and wish to gain true wisdom.
I'm doing that now... desperately trying to undo all the world has told me and fill my cup with truth to see what's really important. When every moment is sacred, what do you fill it with?
What prepares us for REALity?
Embracing a lesson about how the veins of a shining,
pointy-tipped leaf breath life into our very lungs?
Mornings spent searching for the tiny water creatures,
breathing in the beauty of sunrise on rippling waters?
Big brother sharing a phonics lesson with a baby boy -
bare toes wiggling and arms intertwined?
Time spent sorting beautiful art created by friends in Uganda– organizing, admiring, talking about our responsibility as friends and partners to these precious people so far from here yet so close to our hearts...?
Countless hours in a peaceful kitchen, jazz in the background, stories around an old table with warm mugs of hot chocolate in tiny hands, lapping up the joy of family?
The truth is, we are preparing our children for the life we pray they will live. A life focused on Jesus, focused on love, and committed to living their one life well. Breathing deep the refreshing breeze of God's truth and breathing out that truth in all they do. That they would lived bowed at the beauty of nature and over-joyed at the gift of time to enjoy it. That they would value eternal things and place priority on God-things, NOT world-things. That the world would be changed for the better because they walked here.
I want our family to measure success in God nods,
not in people applause.
"Don't hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it's safe from moth and rust and burglars. It's obvious, isn't it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.
Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. If you pull the blinds on your windows, what a dark life you will have..." Matthew 6:19-24 (The Message)
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