A few weeks ago my friend, Crystal, who introduced me to Charlotte Mason a little over a year ago, commented about how she wished she would have read Mason’s Volume 2: Parents and Children before she had her first child. We had been discussing parenting in the trenches during full out war-like seasons of life. She just had her fifth and is preparing for another season of her husband being deployed and I’m pregnant with our third, as well as finishing up another season of leading a women’s study, supporting my husband in his role as a lead pastor, being a mamas to two busy adventurers, and everything else that entails in life. All that being said, I made it a goal to read through volume two before this new little member exits the womb. 🙂
As I’ve made it through the first few chapters, I have to say, it’s quite a bit more convicting than I thought it would be. 🙂 Ms. Mason is always like that, though. Gentle discipline. While reading I hope to share a few of the treasures about parenting and family life that I feel like this generation needs to hear. Today’s first thought is this:
Our family does not exist only for it’s own pleasure, hopes, goals, dreams, glory, and desires. Mason writes:
“It by no means follows from this communistic view of the family that the domestic policy should be a policy of isolation; the contrary, it is not too much to say a nation is civilized in proportion as it is able to establish close relations with other nations; and that, not with one or two, but with many and, conversely, that a nation is barbarous in proportion to its isolation; and does not a family decline in intelligence and virtue when from generation to generation it ‘keeps itself to itself’?“ (pg. 12-13)
My first thoughts from this passage turned to Proverbs 18:1 which says, “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.”
Simply put, for an individual, as for a family, it is foolishness to isolate ourselves.
This is bad news for the introvert, of which I am. Even science tells us our hearts are stronger and healthier when we spend more face to face time with people. (I wish I could find this article I posted a long time ago. If anyone has it, please share the link!)
Family’s become obese when all they do is consume head knowledge, but never exercise it through service and love towards others. Paul often correlated our actual belief in things to the amount we are willing to speak them and do them towards others. Peter even says that when we aren’t walking in godliness it’s because we have forgotten the knowledge of our sin, God, and the great lengths He went to in the gospel (2 Peter 1:3-9). The family that thinks lofty thoughts and imagines plans on how to end hunger in their neighborhood, but never actual opens the front door to talk to their neighbor, doesn’t really love their neighbor after all. The family that images themselves as evangelists but isn’t willing to open their mouths with the never-gonna-tone-down-the-defense of the gospel aren’t really evangelizing, are they?
Friends, I’m preaching to the choir. Reading this volume hurts. And now I’m examining and realizing how much of our family life exists simply for our own benefit. Hear my out: there is a time and place for staying in on Friday nights to eat steaks together and make milkshakes. But, there is also a time and a place for loving and serving your fellow man. If all our diligent planning, scheduling, teaching, and organizing does is end in self-protection, practicality, and life-preservation, Jesus would have said you are insane (Matt. 16:25). Our true lives as family’s are only found when we lay them down for those around us. Our children must see and hear that life which cannot be lost is only found in being spent on others.
Do your actions teach your kids this? Or do your actions tell your kids that mama is more important than they are because we refuse to get off our throne (er…bed) and comforting a fearful heart in the middle of the night?
Again, I know this hurts. I’d much rather hoard my two sacred hours of alone time during naps with a book in bed these days than spending it chatting an encouraging a struggling believer from our church.
But if Proverbs is true, then we are breaking out against all sound judgment when we isolate and gorge ourselves as families without ever working for the benefit and glory of God.
Remember, God doesn’t need our good works, but out neighbor does. (Thanks for this gem, Mr. Luther.)