I realized mid-May that I was doing a lot of writing about my kids and their “stuff.” I attribute it to the end of the school year: I’m thinking more about them because I realize I’m about to spend almost three full months with them, 24/7, and I’m trying to get to a point where I’m anticipating that, instead of dreading it. (I’m finally there–just in time. As I write this, my daughter is done and my son’s last day is tomorrow.)
I want to stop a minute, though, and really think about my kids–all our kids, I guess. I wonder what they’re learning from us, as they grow up in this country where we’re so blessed and where we take so much for granted. I wonder what I’m teaching them, as I raise them in this home; in this city and this county of copious conspicuous consumption. I wonder what kind of an example I’m setting in my daily life, through the choices I make; both big and small. I wonder what kind of a legacy I’m leaving my little ones (who aren’t really so little anymore).
Am I signaling a constant desire for more? Am I showing that we never quite have enough? Are my kids learning that if you don’t like something, pitch it, because you can always buy another? Am I raising a generation dependent on “disposable” junk? What would my kids say I value most, people or “stuff”?
I still remember one afternoon when the kids were running around the house in big circles: hall, living room, kitchen, dining room, repeat. Over and over, until one of them somehow knocked out a shelf in the bookcase in the dining room. It’s a low bookcase, with four shelves displaying my collection of white pitchers. Down the shelf went, along with the pitchers, along with my daughter. She lay on the floor, howling dramatically, and I ran to check on her, and when I surveyed the scene I had a fleeting, laughing thought: okay, now is the time to make a good choice, or she will forever remember this moment as the time I checked to see if any of my “stuff” was broken before I found out if she was hurt. Do I want my kids to remember me as someone who thought “stuff” was more important than people? That moment I chose wisely. 🙂
But not too long ago, I have to admit, I heard my dog gagging on my “brand new” rug, and I freaked out so badly trying to get him outside that my son called down from upstairs asking what was the matter. (The rug owns me, that’s what’s the matter.) That moment I chose….poorly. I truly hope that my good choices outweigh the bad. I hope that my kids realize that “stuff” is just “stuff,” nothing more, and that there are things much more important in life.
What do I want to strive for? What do I want them to learn from me? What legacy do I want to be leaving them?
“Freely you have received, freely give.” (Matthew 10:8)
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need.” (Romans 12:12-13)
“Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it….pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.” (I Timothy 6:6-7; 11)
“Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (I Thessalonians 5:16-18)
I know I don’t always hit the mark. But if I can encourage them even a little towards any of these things, if this can be the example I set for my children (and for their friends), then I will have created the legacy I want to leave behind. If I can continue to hold all these things on this earth with open hands, ready to give and share with others, I have lived as an example that I would be proud of my children to follow.