We didn’t get a pool membership this summer. I wish I could end it there with a neat little period and an implied message of “and they saved lots of money and lived happily ever after.” But the truth is, in my nauseatingly-spoiled-American way of thinking, I had convinced myself that I was robbing my kids of something that they needed. That I was stealing away part of the childhood that they deserved.
Oh my gosh.
But it doesn’t stop there. Disney World. Dance classes. Top ranked schools.
I’m pretty confident that I’m not alone on this one. As parents, we want to give our kids every opportunity and experience and leg up possible to bring them happiness and to help them find success in this ruthless world. We dream of Ivy Leagues and Fortune 500s, and we do what it takes to get our kids there. Heck, we even hashtag our kid pictures with #myworld and #myeverything because that’s truly what we believe and, quite honestly, how we behave. Early on, we allow our children to get nice and comfy right at the center of our everything, and it takes no time at all for our budgets and schedules and lives to revolve around their perceived needs and desires.
I’m preaching to myself here, y’all. Because this is a battle that I fight often. Daily, even. You guys, I want my children to know in the marrow of their bones that they are dearly treasured. That we love them with a “no matter what” kind of love because that’s how we’ve been loved by our God. But if I end up raising kids who, years down the road, look at me and say, “Hey mom, thanks for making us the center of your world,” I would go ahead and stamp myself a failure right then and there.
Lord, no. My job is the exact opposite- to teach them that they are not the main character of this thing called life. That “in him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). Yes, that. In God and for God we live. As counter-cultural as this may sound (and as difficult as it may be for me), I’m not living for my kids. Nor my desires to make their every dream come true. Despite what my idolatrous attitude and actions often suggest, I desperately want my kids to grow up with a much larger vision of their world than themselves.
There is not a single thing wrong with vacations and lessons and gym memberships. Not. A. One. It’s just that I know my mess. And I know how quickly my heart grows anchored to these things. How quickly I turn good things into ultimate, must-have-or-else things. And I am well-aware of how naturally I make myself the center of my own little universe and get all grabby for what I think I deserve in this life. Man, how I want so much more for my kids.
Oh God, may their grip on the things of this world be loose. May they buck hard against the “have more, be happier” messages this world preaches. And may they be far more passionate about loving others than their own self-fulfillment.
And may they forever be satisfied with entire mornings spent in sandy little creeks in the woods. Because, for the record, it turns out that I’m not “robbing” my kids of their childhood after all. If only I could figure out a way to get a reclining lawn chair out here, we’d be golden.