Sunday Thoughts: Cruel and Heartless World

1797606_747694138582912_1031761939_n

Ever since I saw this quote the other day, I’ve been wrestling with it.  Now, granted, my parents probably took the toughen stance on child raising, so I’m a little partial to it.  I see that.  It’s normal to want to defend how you were raised when you had a great childhood.  But, I think it goes beyond that.  Thus, the wrestling.  I’m asking myself if I’m just defending my own parents, or if there is something deeper?  Am I having a knee-jerk reaction away from something sweet and emotional?  I do that.  I get so fed up with how sweet everything is that I tend to charge in the total opposite direction.  And this is not because I don’t like unicorns or something.  I do.  I own Legend.  This is, I think, a difference in philosophy.  So let’s wrestle with this.

The greatest Unicorn movie every made.

The greatest Unicorn movie every made.

get-attachment.aspx_My first reaction:  This is horrible advice.  Why?  Because the world is cruel and heartless.  The world is a cold, dark, selfish place…and anyone who says otherwise is selling something.  (Sorry.  I couldn’t resist.) If you don’t prepare your kids on some level, they’ll get eaten alive.  If you don’t help your kids be tough, smart, and strong, you’re leaving them open to all kinds of attacks.  I know people this has happened to.  I’ve seen it.  The world is full of dangers and it is your job as a parent to help your kid be ready to face those dangers.  This is why we teach them not to talk to strangers and not to accept candy from strangers.  It doesn’t make the world less cruel and heartless if you don’t teach your children this, it makes them open to kidnapping and worse.  My dad telling me as a young woman not to help men with broken arms didn’t suddenly create more men like Ted Bundy.  It taught me not trust my sense of pity, and to see beyond the surface situation to the dangers underneath.  Ted Bundy was out there.  It would have been horribly derelict of my father not to prepare me for that on some level.

080411_al_bundy_640

Ted Bundy

My second reaction:  This quote shows the loss of our understanding of total depravity.  Despite all evidence to the contrary, humanist still believe that we human beings can pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, ignore God, and somehow become this magically enlightened society with no more problems.  Has anyone anywhere ever found this to work?  America has so many different utopian cults attempt this in small communes.  Has any of them every worked?  Even in a small group has anyone managed to eradicate greed, lust, envy, lying, stealing, and all the outcomes of such acts?  I’ve yet to read of any group that has done this to any effect, or in any long-term manner.  It won’t work.  Do you want to know why?  Because us human beings aren’t good.  In our core, down in the dark center of who we are, we aren’t good.  Now, we do good things.  We’re generous.  We forgive.  We heal.  We hold out a hand to those in need.  But that’s all common grace.  And not one bit of that is purely good.  We can all be very selfish while doing good.  We can be proud.  We can be arrogant.  So, it is pure folly to think that we can somehow make the world a good place if we just raise our children right.  You think serial killers don’t have moms?  You think they set out to raise sadistic killers?

My third reaction:  Can’t you do both?  Can’t you raise a warrior who loves?  Is it impossible to raise a boy to be a man who both loves and defends his family?  Is it impossible to raise a daughter who knows how to watch out for bad situations and still helps those in need?  Is it impossible to be tough and gentle?  (It’s not, because my husband is!)  I watched my mom work on toughening my brothers up for years so that they wouldn’t be whiny men.  They are some of the kindest men I have ever known.  She taught them to be tough so that they would learn how to harness their physical power and not hurt those weaker than themselves.  I was a bit on the sickly side as a teen, didn’t do well in my studies, and was honestly a bit on the lazy side.  My mom was hard on me.  She was tough.  We laughed at other home schooled kids.  They had it easy.  Homework in your pajamas? You better be running a fever. I’m so thankful for this now.  I’m so thankful my mom taught me how to keep going even when I wanted to stop.  Now I apply that to serving my church, my husband, and my family.  A child taught only one side or the other is going to be in danger or going to be mean.  You must teach your children self-control and generosity.

My fourth reaction:  This quote makes me want to sing A Boy Named Sue.  Ha!  This sounds like something someone would say who got disciplined as a child by a parent who skated close to the abusive side.  Like they had a dad who spanked but never hugged afterwards.  I get how hard that would be.  I’m thankful my dad did both.  But I see all the kids out there who need discipline so badly and I think this is exactly the mentality their parents must have: kids should be innocent if we want peace in the world.

I think this is one of those quotes that tugs at the old heartstrings.  Who doesn’t want a world less cruel and heartless?  But I think it can be a bit misguiding if you don’t have the right place to hang it.  You have to understand how to balance toughening your kids up to face life and teaching them how to be kind to others.  If you don’t, you’ll either abuse your kids, or you’ll create dangerous situations for them.  Discipline your kids and then hug them.  Teach them to not whine, but to be kind.  Teach them pity and protection.

(And maybe watch Princess Bride with them once in a while.  You’ll find it full of great life lessons!)69199-get-used-to-disappointment-gif-bjgn

Advertisements

Sunday Thoughts: Happiness and the Health, Wealth, and Prosperity Movement

Yes, cause you are the center of the universe and get to decide who is worthy and unworthy.

Yes, cause you are the center of the universe and get to decide who is worthy and unworthy.

I know I promised to start the series on things I learned from managing our boutiques that have helped me as a housewife, but two things have been irritating me so I’m going to write about them first.

Sometimes a rage builds inside me, wanting out.  Maybe it’s my Irish roots turning me into a flaming redhead with anger management issues, but whatever the reasons, it happens.  In my line of sight today are two things: one, our modern-day concepts of personal happiness, and two the Health, Wealth, and Prosperity movement.

So, first things first.  You’ve all seen the quotes on Pinterest, on cards, plaques and on your Facebook feed proclaiming your happiness to be of chief importance, right?  They say that true love accepts you for who you are, no one should ever try to change you, and that if the world doesn’t accept you as you are, you have the right to reject and ignore them.

How narcissistic and self-focused could we possibly be?  If I followed any of this advice, I would be divorced, fat, lazy, lonely, alone, and angry at the world. (I’m not saying being fat is a sin, I’m saying I would be a glutton cause I like food.)  I would push most, if not all, of you out of my life starting with my husband and going on from there.  When did we decide being happy was the chief end of man?  And why don’t we see the inherit dangers that belief brings.  With that line of thinking, we would see the murdering of innocents because they get in the way, a high divorce rate, and suicide….oh wait.  We see all that.  This belief system would also incapacitate a society from convicting murderers of all stripes from bullies, to serial killers and terrorist….oh wait, we see that too.

When I think my goal in life is to be happy and that all stress should be eliminated, then I am my own god, my own authority, and you have no right to say otherwise.  Could we embrace a more unchristian attitude?  Now, it is true that I can’t change my husband….in the grand scheme of things, and he can’t change me.  But, we should be helping each other in the process of sanctification.  If my happiness and lack of stress are the most important thing, then I need him out of my life.  I mean the guy wants me to decide what’s for dinner.  He works all day and expects me to keep the house clean, our finances done, and food on the table.  I don’t like doing finances, cleaning the house, or deciding what to cook.  I’d rather sit on the couch and write fantasy stories.  Who does he think he is?  Well, I think he thinks he’s responsible for leading our home, and the man earning the paycheck while I work from home, which is exactly what I’ve been telling him for years that I wanted to do.  If he wanted to do what made him happy, he would sit at home playing video games all day and eating junk food.  If we both did what made us happy, we would both be slobs living on welfare doing nothing.

See the problem is that our society has lost a critical component of truth – total depravity.  Human beings are not naturally good, kind, hard-working, honestly, loyal things.  Occasionally, God shows us some common grace and we are all those things.  But, left to ourselves, left to pursue our own happiness, we would all stop working, engaging, and growing.  We would, instead, sit around selfishly ignoring others, while the world crumbled around us.

Because Stress is the worst Sin you can have in your life.

Because Stress is the worst Sin you can have in your life.

The idea that you should love me for who I am is another lie.  Have you looked in the mirror recently?  I’m so glad my husband loves me despite who I am.  I’m glad God loves me because of Christ.  I’m not a nice person, nor a pretty one.  I can only be those things by the grace of God.  I’m thankful He puts people in my life to help me who aren’t worried about me being happy, but instead being holy.  Pursuing holiness is hard work and stressful.  It requires you to put yourself in a state of iron sharpening iron.  You have to hang out with people who just don’t think highly enough about you.  You have to hang out with people who aren’t as cool as you.  The horror.  (You should read this with your sarcasm voice.)

We, as Christians, need to stop pinning, reposting, and decorating with lies.  We need to see them for what they are – the Devil’s whispers.  We need to remember that nowhere in the Bible does God say our happiness is our chief end, that you need to get rid of stress, and you should be accepted for all you are.  What the Bible does say is that we should be poor in spirit, mourn over our sin, be meek of heart, and put on the fruit of the Spirit.  We are to go to war against sin.  War.  If you’ve forgotten how bloody war is, go watch Lone Survivor.

And, the Health, Wealth and Prosperity movement only adds to this.  Could there possibly be more of a First World Problem than not being healthy, wealthy, and prosperous enough?  Only in a wealthy country like America could such a religion spring out of the Bible.
“God is not afraid of pain.  He does not try to keep us from it.  He does not avoid it for Himself.”  – The Language of Sparrows

So...who is defining blessings and what gave you the right to just hand them out without any qualification?

So…who is defining blessings and what gave you the right to just hand them out without any qualification?

If you can read the Bible and deduce that you are supposed to be wealthy here on earth, you have skipped some critical passages.  If that was true, why did Christ die?  But not just die, why wasn’t he wealthy, healthy, and prosperous while he was here?  Did he not have enough faith?  What part of laying your treasure in heaven do you not understand?  What part of the world hating you do you not get?  The Bible is not speaking of physical riches but Spiritual ones.  We aren’t called to live healthy wealthy lives, but quiet ones in the pursuit of holiness.  God is not in the business of making you happy.  He is in the business of making you holy.

“Life is pain, Highness.  And anyone who says otherwise is selling something.”  – The Princess Bride

Do you think Pastor Saeed Abedini is clinging to promises of happiness here on earth while he suffers, and is tortured in an Iranian Prison?  No.  Those concepts won’t sustain you when you are suffering, being tortured, hurting, angry, or enduring trials.  You must cling to the hope that just as Christ suffered, you will suffer, and just as He is glorified, you will be glorified too.  You must know and understand that the sufferings of this life are nothing compared to heaven, to seeing Christ.  You must know that God is in control and is not the cosmic Santa Claus, but the one who is redeeming, cleansing, and making holy a people unto Himself.

Don’t let yourself get sucked into the idea that all suffering is to be avoided.  Keep your eyes on your treasures in heaven, on Christ.  Don’t look for a better church, better friends, and a better life.  Look for the fruit of the Spirit, a way to serve, and battle your own sin.  This is the life of a believer.  Not happiness.  Not peace.  Not distressing.  Fighting.  Failing.  Looking to grace and the hope of eternal life motivated by the unfathomable richness of the love of God seen in Christ….and Christ died.  Don’t lose that.  Christ died.  Do you want to be like Christ?  Remember he died in a point of submission.  How much does that fly in the face of our culture?

You are never out of the fight.  Don’t let the world around you define who you are!  Look to the Scripture.  Look to Christ.  Submit your heart and mind to the teachings of the Scripture and get busy serving your local church.

Okay….I’m getting off my soapbox and getting busy managing my home.