Posted by: Heather | March 12, 2011

It’s All About Your Perspective

 

Isaiah 64:6  (NIV)  All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags…

Sometimes, I get an idea I think would make a good blog, but have to put it away for awhile until an event kindles the fire for the words to come.  This blog is one of those.  This is an idea that has been in my draft folder for a very long time.  It was just a couple of days ago that the event happened that sparked the inspiration for this post.  My intention is not necessarily to change anyone’s mind, because this subject is a matter of private personal opinion, but to foster some understanding, and hopefully to cause some productive thought.

There was a time in my life, not so long ago, when I had a complex of sorts.  It’s not easy for me to talk about, because frankly, I look back now, and I’m quite ashamed of the thoughts and feelings I had about myself and others.  I thought I was quite a bit ‘holier’ than most people, and I believed almost everything was evil.  It wasn’t uncommon for me to try to find the evil in things, and almost attempt to seek out a ‘devil around every corner’.  If there wasn’t one to be found, I could almost make one up.  I was quite proud that I didn’t allow my children to see any movie that had any aspect of what I thought was evil, or listen to stories that had any whisper of fantasy attached to them.  When the LORD began to let me see what I was doing, it became immediately apparent that I had very unhappy children that did not understand why nothing was acceptable unless it had to do directly reading the Bible or going to church.

Please don’t get me wrong.  My intention is not to undermine the choices that any parent makes for their children, but to tell my story.  If the way you’re raising your children is how you feel the LORD would have you do it, I don’t have a gripe with you.  I’m talking about folks like me that practically made my children miserable because nothing was OK to see or do.

A couple of days ago, one of my children was walking with our neighbor, an elderly gentleman in our neighborhood at our local YMCA.  They were approached by another man my son sees and talks to on occasion.  This gentleman began to talk to my son about the movies he’d seen recently, and they carried on a short conversation.  In order not to leave our neighbor out of the conversation, my son asked him if he’d seen any movies lately.  His reply did something that is very uncommon…it left my son speechless.  He indignantly replied, “I haven’t seen any movies since I got saved over 50 years ago!  And, anyone who’s caught in one of those h*ll-holes when the rapture takes place will be going straight to h*ll!”  OK…maybe a bit extreme for this ultra-conservative man that we had never heard utter a word against anyone?  🙂

This conversation really made me think.  First, I was ashamed at how many times I had thought the same thing about things people do, even if I had never uttered it to a soul.   Even if it never fell on any human’s ears, it had been in my heart.   Another thing I realized a few years ago was solidified by this one event…a judgmental, self-righteous attitude is no better in the sight of God than the things it is used to accuse people of.

A few years ago, I was listening to a teaching CD done by a family friend, who is also a dear spiritual mentor…Dr. Karl Coke.  He was making a point about how the world sometimes ‘gets it’ better than we do as Christians.  A common theme, in Disney movies for instance, is the story of a princess that has a battle with some kind of evil villain.  The princess is born, has a spell cast on her by the villain(ess), and is at some point put to sleep because she is drawn to something put there to harm her.  True love’s kiss is the only thing that will wake her from her sleep, and the prince is usually the source of that kiss.

As he explained, it was at that moment my old perspective began to change.  There were many Disney movies I had not allowed my children to see for this very reason.  He continued that this is an example, set on a child’s level, of God’s love for us.  We are easily enticed and trapped into sin…in fact, we’re born into it, and the enemy has us.  Evil is not always ugly…often it’s very beautiful, and that’s why we’re so easily taken in by it, just like the princess is taken in by that which will ultimately seek to destroy her.  In fact, satan’s name literally means ‘trap setter’.  That is how he draws us…by setting traps and baiting us, just like we would catch an animal.  Then, when she is ‘dead’, just like we are in sin, the King’s Son comes to awaken her and bring new life back to her lifeless body.   As the movie ends, they are married to one another, and live happily ever after.

There is a basic premise that is repeated over and over in these movies and stories.  Evil is clearly seen, and good triumphs in the end.  This is in direct contrast to movies where evil is pictured as good, and the way to overcome is through using evil.  This is in direct opposition to what we should teach our children.

I realized upon hearing this that explanation I had neglected a basic aspect of my children’s training.  I’ve always said that one of my objectives in homeschooling my children was not to keep them isolated from the world, but to introduce them to the world on my terms, instead of allowing the world to dictate the terms.  We then began to use these opportunities as springboards for discussion, rather than just not allowing them at all.

As we began to do that, I began to see my children spring to life and start to think more about the difficult questions some of these movies and stories open up.  Do I let them watch just anything?  Absolutely not.  But, I also have a teenage son who is now quite the expert at discussing the moral and ethical questions that arise from the movies he’s seen, and can intelligently discuss with you the reasons why things are right and wrong, instead of just spewing that something is wrong, but not knowing the reason.  He now has a chance to apply what he’s learned in the Bible to something he experiences in real life.   This is often an avenue of discussion with others that might not be able to discuss the Bible directly.

I don’t even begin to think that I’ve done everything right.  I’ve made so many mistakes as a parent.  There are still many things that I need to correct and work on.  At this point, it’s possible our neighbor thinks I’m a failure as a parent, as I’m sure do many others.   But, I figure if I was to sit and compare notes with any other parent, you would find many things you think I’m doing wrong.  But, I can also guarantee that I could find things I don’t agree with in your methods.  But, instead of looking for ‘the devil around every corner’ to see what everyone else is doing wrong, why don’t we focus on the right that is happening in each other’s families?  You may not make the same choices I do.  But a self-righteous, critical attitude from either of us will not win us any more brownie points with God.

As I said, I’m not trying to change anyone’s mind about how to raise their children.  The critical thinking that is happening in my children as a result of this change in our lives, along with their relationship with Jesus is enough to make me think I’m doing something right.  I only wanted to give my point of view, because it’s all about your perspective…

© Copyright Notice: Permission is hereby granted to make copies as long as Promised Land Ministries is properly cited and credited as the author.  http://www.promisedland-ministries.com

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Responses

  1. This is a very interesting perspective. I am glad that you shared it. It is something we have wrestled with in our family, too. I don’t think that everything we read, listen to or watch has to be “Christian”. However, I do see scripture telling us what to focus our hearts and minds on. Phil 4:8. I try to let that be my guide…although, even with that, it can be difficult to sometimes know what is appropriate. We really need the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

    As my son gets older, we do watch some things together to help him learn discernment, but we don’t give carte blanche on it. I think, too, that as he sees us make choices, he learns about why we don’t listen to or watch certain kinds of things. Ultimately, he needs to make his own decisions, but while he is in our home, he sees us model for him what the L-rd has shown us.

    • Thanks Abigail. I agree with what you’re saying. It is important to focus our minds on the right things, and we don’t give carte blanche on everything our kids want to watch either. I hope I didn’t make it sound that way. I just had such a complex that everything was wrong, that I believe I was ultimately headed toward turning my children away from what was good in spite of my good intentions. I’ve seen so many cases, and many I know personally, where people shielded their children from everything, and when the children became old enough, they just threw caution to the wind and went wild because they had no idea how to handle it.

      As I said, it is not my intention to second-guess what any other parent chooses for their children. That’s not my place…raising our children is a matter between us, our Bible, and our God. I just thought my story might give a new perspective on an old problem that I know many struggle with, and what ended up working well for us.

      My oldest is getting ready to graduate, and is now at the point of really learning to make his own decisions, so this becomes even more important to me. 🙂 Thanks so much for your comment!


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