candy jar

Now and then I feel the nudge to air my opinions and I do all I can to bargain with God and see if I can get out of it.

“Oh, I must be needing to just vent a bit but of course, my blog is no place for that,” I justify, thanking my lucky stars I came up with a good one for the day.

The thing about opinions is that they’re so polarizing. I don’t think we’ve found a good way to do the whole disagreeing thing very well yet.

But the stirring is getting stronger. And louder. And much more intense. Like labor pains.

And the only thing I can think to say is, “Crap.”

I know, I know. You’re stunned by my eloquence.

I have this little streak of rebellion in me I’ve worked hard to tame over the years but it won’t go away completely. It’s actually served me, and Him for that matter, quite well at times.

This past Sunday, our pastor talked about what he calls “the long view and the short view.” In a nutshell, the long view is the big picture and the short view is the here and now, take things into our own hands and react without thinking type of situation.

He used the story of Jesus telling Peter to go out and find the first fish in the river. In the mouth of the fish, he would find the  money they needed to pay both of their taxes. Some criticized Jesus because He didn’t agree with the tax collector’s methods of obtaining the monies—if He didn’t agree, why didn’t He refuse to pay the tax?

Because He understood the value of the long view. Relationship should be first. Jesus had the wisdom to know when to ruffle feathers and when to hold-off.

I don’t know any other way to say this without sounding insanely judgmental, which, might I add, is akin to being called the worst name you can think of in my book. Judgmental-type Pharisees make me want to bang my head against the wall and the thought of sounding like one makes me feel the need to vomit. Like how I beat around the bush on that one?

During the past two weeks, I’ve noticed a few things in the world of parenting: we are raising some seriously entitled kids.

I began to see the shift when I was teaching second grade in 1997. A boy in my class had stolen candy from a jar on my desk.

The mother said it was my fault he stole the candy because I had, gasp,the nerve to have a candy jar on my desk. Apparently, it was just too tempting for her son.

Oh. I see. Instead of teaching our children about self-control and respect for authority, let’s make excuses.

Fast-forward sixteen years and a similar situation has me thinking of my own mother. If an another adult approached my mother to discuss my own misbehavior as a child, I would have been scared out of my gourd.

I would have lost all kinds of privileges. I would have had to apologize. Even if I was humiliated. That was part of the lesson.

When I was in sixth grade, my parents were out of town for the afternoon and I went to the pool with some of my friends. Remember this was 1986 and we lived in a very small Indiana town—we could ride our bikes everywhere and the threat of crazy kidnappers wasn’t what it is now.

Three boys from our class followed us back to my house. I wasn’t allowed to have boys inside while my parents weren’t home.

Duh.

Except I wasn’t strong enough to say no to these boys. They pushed their way in and being sixth grade boys, began to show off by running around our house at top speed, basically upending everything in their path.

They even went into the garage, started the car, and honked the horn. Yes, they were twelve.

I was scared to death. I had no idea what to do.

Somehow, we girls ended up outside and the boys locked us out—yes, of my own home.

Banging on the glass window of the front door (did I mention I was twelve?) in a desperate attempt to be in my house, the glass shattered around my hands.

The boys bolted.

My friend and I were left staring at each other, blood running down my hands.

I’m pretty sure it was my idea to tell everyone we didn’t know the boys who broke into my house. I don’t remember the details but it became our story and we stuck to it.

The police arrived and we shared our bogus story about three boys who followed us home and broke into my house.

My parents returned to town at a breakneck speed and were panicked beyond measure.

But what my twelve year old brain didn’t consider was our neighbor who had seen the whole thing.

Of course, living in a small community, she knew each one of those boys. And when she shared their names, my mom knew we had lied because she knew them as well.

She didn’t make excuses for me.

She didn’t point her finger at the police or the boys or my friend.

She didn’t start ranting about how we shouldn’t have a pool in our community because it was too tempting for children to go there and swim and then what could happen afterwards?

Understanding my humiliation was enough of a punishment, we still had to make it right.

She marched me down to the police station where I spoke a tearful apology of regret and shame.

Over-dramatizing for effect, the policeman made his point of our interference of the safety of others quite well.

I learned how little I actually knew about how the world worked. I learned that like or not, hierarchical authority exists and it needs to be respected. I learned this is not a negative thing but a biblical thing. Yes, there are those in authority who abuse their position but they’re still in authority. (Exception: Abuse victims)

I learned that my own selfish lie caused my mother’s heart to stop beating for the two hours it took her to get home.

And speaking of my mother’s heart, I learned that it needed to be treated with care. I am her only child.

So if she had insisted I could never do anything wrong and blamed everyone else for my own poor choices and behavior, if she lamented about how those policemen overreacted to such a small thing and aren’t those boys so terrible, what lesson would I have learned?

My mother took the long view because it’s the long view that teaches. It’s the long view that loves.

When we raise entitled children, we teach them the short view. The here and now. The it’s-easier-and-I’m-just-going-to-do-it-this-way view. The immediate gratification view.

But it’s the long view that wins.

Postscript: I recently ran into the officer who answered our bogus call on that hot summer day 27 years ago at a funeral of all places. Standing next to my mother, she couldn’t resist the urge to say “Tom, do you remember Natalie?” After nervous laughter, my mother addressed the white elephant in the room. “Remember when she called you about those intruders?”

People. I’m 39 years old. It’s going to be written on my tombstone.

Speaking of raising entitled kids, you must read this HI-larious post by Kristen at “Rage Against the Minivan” about the craziness of holidays and our children. I’m completely right there with her on this one . . .