Deep thoughts these days. Pondering the horrific events that brought our year to a close in a school not so far away... thinking--as we all do--why? And how do you ever get to that place? There are all the outcries of "this is what should have been done"... "this is what should be done"... "this is what really happened". Often, I hesitate to lend my voice to the multitude--fearing that giving attention to such atrocity might encourage other troubled youngsters longing for fame to try something similar.
I don't have the answers. The reasons, or the solutions. I just began thinking of some huge differences between children growing up here in the US and children growing up in many other countries around the world. Thinking about how many of we American adults grew up in comfy circumstances, watching Disney movies that told us that there was no one in the world as special as us. That if we wished for something hard enough, we could have it. That there was nothing we could not be. That we deserved to be happy. We deserved to have whatever we wanted because we were that special. We heard that message in varying degrees from many sources. Perhaps our parents re-inforced it with us. Maybe we never had to do chores around the house, because our parents said we were the princesses and princes and our job was to just be a kid. Maybe we never had to pay for the things we got, because our parents felt that was the way to show love. It could have been that we excelled easily, we felt only praise and encouragement as we performed or did athletics as small children. "If you don't like it, if it doesn't make you feel good, we will find something that does!"
It seems that a large portion of us feel that things should be fair. Things should make sense. There shouldn't be suffering. It shouldn't be hard. We deserve comfort. We deserve what we want. We deserve to be famous--brimming with confidence and purpose.
I contrast that with other societies. Other societies that perhaps live, as a many-membered family in a one-room, dirt-floored home. Where--if the children have the luxury of going to school--probably will only go until they are old enough to be of service to the family. Where, from the age they could walk, they knew how much things "cost". Perhaps water had to be hauled by buckets, waited for in hours-long lines. Perhaps small portions of food took hours of work to attain--and when attained, had to be shared among too many mouths. Working, suffering, injustice, sickness, death, scarcity-- these things are as common as breathing to large portions of the worlds population from a very early age. Yet, amongst what we would see as horrible life-conditions, I often see faces calm with acceptance. Bright and genuine smiles that bring sparkles to the eyes.
People, sometimes I think we suffer too little. We have too much time on our hands. Recently, as I hear people saying, "I just need to find my purpose in life"... "What is my great calling??" (and, believe me... I have said those very words)... my mind immediately takes me to images of a man in India, pulling his rickshaw in the oppressive heat, the pouring rain. Hard, hard, thankless work day in, day out. Living in a one-room shack, jammed into an over-populated slum. But, his take on his life? He is very happy. He loves that his shack has a tarp on it... and he says that the open end of his shack brings in a "beautiful breeze". He says he has the greatest neighbors and his son's smile at the end of the day is what he lives for.
The point being--I don't think many the people who, from sunup to sundown, are just working to stay alive are falling into depression as the wonder what is the great calling they have on their life. They don't have that luxury.
I do think we need to live with purpose. I also know what that purpose is-- knowing God! Being known by Him. After that, I think it is learning to walk with Him, and to LOVE what He has given us, where He has us.
I also think we need to accept--maybe expect--suffering. Sickness. Death. Injustice. I think we need to be proactive in loving and sheltering our kids--but also in making sure they know that life is hard. Things don't make sense a lot of the time. There will be more things that are unfair than they can count.
We need to make sure we know that God does have individual plans for our lives. But, that those plans fit inside His bigger, universal plan. We are only a piece in His puzzle. We aren't on this earth to become famous, have everything we ever wanted or even make the world make sense. We are here to know God and love Him. To love people. To walk in humility.
Oh, how little we know humility! Humility: Head bowed, hands open. Humility: Acceptance. Humility: I've been wrong more times than I've been right. Humility: It isn't about how it affects me, how it makes me look, how it makes me feel. Humility: All I am for all He is. Humility: Everything I have I have been given. Humility: Abundance or scarcity--I am content.
I am grateful to live in a country where, oftentimes, all we need is a little willpower and elbow grease to attain our goals and get ahead in life. I also am becoming aware of just how detrimental it is to make a child feel that they are the center of the universe, that they are all-capable and in-fallible. The damage we do when we don't allow our children to experience hard work, understand suffering, see pain. How hard it is, then, for us to truly bow our heads to the Almighty when He begins to mold our life as He chooses. How much longer the road to maturity and usefulness can become.
As I seek to be inside of God's will for my life, I am also learning to rest in the fact that life is often daily. That--as long as I am close to Him--it is okay. I am learning that, perhaps, the thing that would please God most is that I am overflowing with joy in the exact situation, the exact portion, the exact place, He has me at this very moment.