which way do you want it?

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard the verse quoted,

Train up a child in the way he should go;
    even when he is old he will not depart from it,

well, I’d probably have enough to at least take my family out for a nice dinner.

It’s Proverbs 22:6, which, obviously means it’s a proverb.  Not a command.  Not a law.  A proverb.  As in a good idea or a truth.  The dictionary’s definition of a proverb:  An often stated observation regarding something from common experience.

As my children are shifting from the childhood years to adulthood, I find myself often thinking of this verse.  I’m not sure who to blame, possibly myself, but somehow at sometime it was engrained in me that this was a two way deal.  If I did what I was supposed to do, my kids would do what they are supposed to do.  In other terms, I weighed just about all of life: right vs wrong, black vs white, morality vs sin, on these words.  An A + B = C for all time adage.

As I age, I realize life has absolutely no guarantees, at least not in regards to controlling the actions of others.  While I’ve done what I consider a more than decent job in articulating how my kids should act and treat others, there is no bonding agreement they will always do what I expect or desire.

Theologically, one could differentiate on what Proverbs 22:6 really means.  Checking the Amplified translation:

Train up a child in the way he should go [and in keeping with his individual gift or bent], and when he is old he will not depart from it,

one can demise the verse is not talking about right and wrong, but about what a child is good at(?)

I don’t really want to get technical or theological, mainly because if I begin categorizing my blog entries as theological, I’ll get railed.  There are way too many theologians out there blogging away and many of them have attended seminary or attempted to.  {you know who you are!}  I do want to consider that we often want to hear key words.  We moms want signs that are kids [get it] and are living a life that reassures us we have done what we’re supposed to do.  Even, perhaps, if we ourselves are unsure of the certainty and need for these so called [proofs] and don’t show them personally in an outward fashion.

tebowIn my mind, I call these proofs the Tim Tebows.  I know, I know, many people, especially in the Christian community, love Tim, and I have nothing against him.  He’s known for his outspoken faith.  And that’s great.  Yet, it’s not translatable to every young person in America.  Not every kid, even those who live the love God/love others mantra run around shouting how much they love God/love others from the rooftops.  Not every kid is president of their local FCA or can’t get enough Young Life or makes a thing about praying over lunch in the school cafeteria.  And I think we have to be careful that’s not what we moms are looking for.  I find myself guilty of this.  Instead of looking for the kindness, the goodness of my children.  Looking instead for the outward signs, actually looking for very specific signs.  The desire to get to church on Sunday morning.  The longing to rejoin a youth group and attend as many lock ins as possible before they head to college.  Perhaps because that’s what other parents brag about on Facebook…..where their child is going on a mission trip, etc.  I’ve never seen anyone post, “My daughter was extra nice today to the new girl who just moved in from Mexico.”

There’s a strong possibility our children, at least mine, will not live their faith in the ways I do or have been formatted to believe is correct.  Just because one is musically gifted does not necessarily translate into leading modern praise music.  Likewise, a heart for children in need doesn’t have to happen within the four walls of a church building.  So I have to decide if I prefer they genuinely search and find what they believe or if I’d rather they learn the lingo and talk the talk.  Personal experience reveals that eventually the talk grows old and without substance, is lacking.

confessI’m confessing.  Confessing that I am guilty of expectations, not that I truly believe mean anything substantial, but expectations that simply make me feel better.  Kind of like wanting my husband to tell me he loves me one hundred times a day, even though it’s obvious in his day to day living that he does.  I suppose it comes down to the old phrase, “talk is cheap”.  I know, I know, there is value in what’s spoken and it’s important to testify audibly to what we believe.  But I cannot push that on my kids, especially when I know I’ve done my best in training them up in the way they should go.

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