We learn in church that we are all important, that we have callings on each of our lives. We learn about being humble and serving others. There are so many great qualities we are learning and stepping into. So what happens when our little ones who have only ever known that they are loved and are special, begin interacting with others who have never known these truths over their own lives?
So far, I have spent my children’s lives protecting them from too much of the ‘worldly’ things. You know, things like bullying, racism, foul language, violence, etc. I had protected them from these things not thinking or anticipating the date in which they would be immersed in it.
Now, most people put their children in public or private schools where they are naturally exposed to life outside the home, but we have decided to home school. So for now, our 6, 4 and almost 1 year old have been at home, church or with a group of friends living the same culture and with similar beliefs as us. That is, until about 2 months ago when a group of neighborhood kids discovered there were similar aged kids living in our house. Since that day, there hasn’t been a day go by that we haven’t gotten a knock on the door asking if our kids could play.
These past few months have been a learning experience for me. These new friends of our kids live in the complete opposite lifestyle as us. They make choices I wouldn’t want my kids making, they say things I wouldn’t want my children saying, and watch shows my kids haven’t even heard of (because we would never allow them to watch them)
Do these reasons mean we shouldn’t play with these children?
Do we need to close our doors to them to keep protecting our own kids?
“Does anyone bring a lamp home and put it under a washtub or beneath the bed? Don’t you put it up on a table or on the mantel? We’re not keeping secrets, we’re telling them; we’re not hiding things, we’re bringing them out into the open.
Mark 4:21-22 (Message Translation)
I will be completely honest and say that when these kids first started coming over, I thought yes, we should distance ourselves from them. And then common sense (and wisdom from my husband) brought me back to reality.
Didn’t Jesus command us to go into the nations to tell them of him? And here we are in the comfort of our own home and the people are instead coming to us!
We are called to be God’s light and shine for all to see. He wants everyone to experience His love, and how are we going to share it if we lock ourselves in our homes, hiding from the outside world?
Now it’s not to say that we need to always have our doors open to these kids, in fact there have been many times when we’ve said no to our kids playing with them. I think it’s wonderful that we have this opportunity to impart God’s goodness to them, and that our kids have the opportunity to experience life outside of what they have always known, but it certainly doesn’t have to be every single day… at least in my opinion 🙂
I think the reason I had originally backed off in fear when the neighbors started coming to play was because I wasn’t prepared. Everything was perfectly contained in our little world. We were pouring truths into our children and encouraging them in knowing their identities, which was great, but I hadn’t been thinking of the practical application of living this lifestyle.
Once we had these ‘non-christian’ neighbor friends showing up, I felt like my kids were ‘too young’ or ‘too vulnerable’ to be a light. I didn’t think they were ready to be influencers but would rather be influenced. Lies.
The truth is, God has them protected. And not only that, but He has everything perfectly orchestrated. I believe that this new season is all part of His plan.
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.
Deuteronomy 31:6 (NIV)
Getting to know our neighbor’s children, we’ve learned just how much love they need in their lives. For them to come to our home, God is giving us easy targets to speak love and truth into their lives! What an amazing opportunity, and one I am still learning to do with excellence.
After all, do we want to be known as the snobby religious neighbors who keep to themselves? Or the loving and generous neighbors that others feel safe enough to go to whenever needed?
I’d rather be known as the neighbor who demonstrated God’s love! Even if it is uncomfortable at times.
Ps. If you’re wondering if after these past few months my children have been ‘influenced’ at all, or have changed since playing with their new friends, the answer is not really. There have been days when one would start acting goofy (the same way one of the kids does), or says something silly, but there hasn’t been anything offensive or worrisome. They understand there are differences between our lifestyles and will sometimes remark on something one of the other kids does that we don’t necessarily agree with (taking our toys to their home without asking us, etc.) and it opens up a discussion about right vs wrong. So it has been a learning experience for us all!