Thursday, March 1, 2012

She Chose the Beautiful

She called last night.

"Momma, I need encouragement. I had planned to go with the girls and see a play. Then I saw the paper ad, and it said this particular Shakespeare play, rated PG13, had adult humor and was bawdy." She continued,"We bought flowers to give one of the actresses we know from our dorm, and my homework is done for the week. I'm struggling with myself. I think maybe I should just go practice my violin..."

A situation like that is tough for anyone, much more a teenager far from home. (My mama-heart ached for her.) She doesn't want to make the girls feel like she thinks she is "holier than they." But, eternal reality remains, and she knows it. She is convinced that one choice in the wrong direction is like one drop of water in a bucket. It seems so insignificant at the moment, but one drop leads to another--it's so easy for our flesh to rationalize--and before we know it, the bucket is spilling over and we have become a different person, headed a different direction.

What creates in a child the ability to say, "I will stand alone when I have to"? What establishes the commitment, "I will not take part in activities that do not push me toward the pure, the good, the virtuous, the beautiful--as Jesus defined them..."?

Certainly, there are many forces, many causes that bring about this result. First and foremost, a child has to understand herself and want to do what is right. Here are a few things to think about as parents:

When your children are tiny, start helping them understand themselves. Start pointing out what they are feeling and why. Describe to them the way they are made up--that they are flesh and spirit, and that the flesh has certain predictable characteristics that will take them away from God if they do not choose correctly.

Be with them every moment possible when they are young and as they mature so that you can help them see reality as interactions with others take place. Instill, moment by moment, the proper way to think. Read stories to them about honorable people who have chosen to do what is right no matter the cost. As they grow older, provide books they can read--the great books that demonstrate tough choices being made which produce Godly people--and don't avoid books that demonstrate the opposite; people choosing wrongly and suffering the consequences of those choices.

Point out character traits that you observe in others. Praise the behaviors you want to see in your children. Lovingly and with kindness and concern, point out the undesirable character traits that are not to be emulated.

My precious daughter chose to go practice violin, and wouldn't you know, some music students-- older students whom she admires--invited her to go get ice cream.

I cried happy thankful tears when she told me. I just couldn't help but wonder if Abba had anything to do with it.