Thursday, February 26, 2015

Why I Don't Want My Kids to "Toughen Up"

So, as in every elementary school in the whole entire wide world, there has been a bit of playground drama once or twice every year since we let these people out of the safe haven of home (although with the yelling that goes on here sometimes and the general lack of supervision we provide, I'm not really sure how safe a haven home really is) and we have made the girls handle it. 

Preston and I, both being teachers (ok, I'm a former teacher, but I can't separate) are determined to stay out of school. Not in a "it's the teacher's job so we won't ever darken the doors" sort of way, but in a "we know the teacher is crazy exhausted and has to deal with snotty-nosed-lunch-tray-droppers all the live long day, so we will give the benefit of the doubt to whatever is going on and assume the worst of our children because its probably true since they have been fallen from birth, no, since conception, and parents sticking their noses in and having pie in the sky visions about their naughty children just makes the teacher's job so much harder so we will only go up there to be helpful or in the event of an emergency" sort of way. 


But we had a bit of a situation where one child was feeling repeatedly mistreated and talked to the powers that be, who handled it.

This has nothing to do with anything, but isn't
she cute with this dog she bought from the
thrift store for $2 with her own money? She named
him "Pinkerson."


In a conversation I was having about what went down (and that makes it sound awful, and it so wasn't but it makes for a better story to say "went down") the overall feel was kind of a, "That's life. Buck up." kind of attitude. Honestly, that's often how we are, too. Get over it. Here's how to respond. Punch them back. Dry it up. Learn to deal with it.

Now, nothing is wrong with those statements. (Except maybe "Punch them back." Although I am not above that for myself. Ask my brothers.) It is life. They do need to learn how to handle it. There will always be mean people, even after first grade. Just look at all the adult bullies throughout history - Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, and on and on and on. If the girls are wrecked by one mean person they will be doomed to live in our basement well into their 30s, constantly tormenting us with the clickity clack of the air hockey table.

But learning to deal with it and toughening up are two distinctly different things. 

Toughening up makes me think they will be indestructible. Inoffensible. They will not feel things because it is too painful, and the only thing that really matters is Number One.

I don't want them to be tough. 

I want them to feel the wound when mean things are said, either to them or to a peer. 

I want the knife to go deep when they see stories of persecution on the news. 

I want their hearts to break for the hungry children of the world. 

I want them to feel a brokenness so deep that they are spurred to action...to defend themselves not because they got their feelings hurt, but because they are a creation of God and when we mock one another we are mocking the Most High God; to be active in the fight against evil because people have inherent worth as creations of the Lord; to donate money, to travel, to serve meals, to sacrifice their own creature comfort to provide for the needs of another, because that hungry child was created for God's glory as well. 

And most especially to pray.

Prayer is a mystery, but Scripture tells me to do it, and even directs how, and so I will do it and train my children up to as well. Because there will be days like today, when the number of kidnapped Christians seems to double every time I turn on my computer, when the number of children who are desperate and need sponsors grows every time I check the Compassion website, when the number of people dying in far off genocides seems too great to ever do anything about.

On days like today, I hope they are spurred to their knees. Because today, in this moment, I can't get to those captured. And even if I emptied my bank account and gave it all, it would not be enough to feed all the hungry people. And could we get there, our weapons cache (some nerf guns and a set of steak knives) is not enough to stop the slaughter of another entire town.

But I can pray. And God is there with the captives, the hungry, the lonely, the desolate, the hopelessly broken. And that is so much better than me being there.

And that makes the brokenness I feel today, and the brokenness I want my girls to feel, not a hopeless brokenness, which is so different from regular old brokenness. Because the Bible also tells me the fight is over. Jesus has won. 

And He will return

Please do not mistake my words. I do not want my children to be doormats to be trampled on by the bullies of the world. That is not Scriptural and does not bring glory to God's name either. I want them to rise up, put on the armor of God, and go forth in His name. I want them to share the name of Jesus not only with their words but with their actions - by defending, feeding, sharing, giving, donating, working, loving, and praying. And whatever else He calls them to. 

Kind of a side note here, but Preston is currently at a citizenship ceremony for a dear friend of his from a far off land. They both started teaching at Fairview the same year. This man lives here from August to June, returning to his family at the end of the school year for the summer. He is bursting with pride over becoming an American citizen. He is working and saving to bring his children and beloved wife here. She gave birth to their fifth child and first girl yesterday. He won't meet her until he is able to go home in June. But for this family, the sacrifice is worth it. We are so thrilled for this man and so hopeful for his family. 

Never before has there been a wealthier nation in the history of the WORLD. People still see us as the land of hope. They make unbelievable sacrifices to come here. May those of us who are here be reminded of this by this precious family's story.

Also, if you are looking for a book to read, I cannot use enough words to recommend The Hole in our Gospel by Richard Stearns. 

Grace,
Martha 

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