“Do not confine your children to your own learning for they were born in another time.”
I ran into this ancient wisdom from the Hebrews earlier this week and as I turn it over in my mind I find more and more to think about. There are so many implications in this simple sentence. The first phrase that resonated with me was “born in another time.” Every year Beloit College publishes a list that tells us about the “time” of this year’s graduates. I am always surprised at the assumptions that can no longer be made. Here are a few from the classes of 2011 and 2012:
- “Off the hook” has never had anything to do with a telephone.
- Women have always been police chiefs in major cities.
- Jack Nicholson is “The Joker.”
- MTV has never featured music videos.
- Food packaging has always included nutritional labeling.
- GPS satellite navigation systems have always been available.
- WW has never stood for World Wide Wrestling.
- Muscovites have always been able to buy Big Macs.
They are most surely born in another time.
Another thing that struck me was the juxtaposition of the words learning and confine – I always think that learning frees, but on further reflection I see that learning can confine. Any time I begin to think that there is only one way to approach something; I am confined by my learning. It doesn’t matter if the subject is gender roles, the temperature of the room or whether the toilet paper comes over the top or from underneath the roll; if I can’t see things another way, I am confined.
One “learning” that may confine us is what we believe our children need to know. How do we make sure our children learn what really matters? If we live a life that reflects what we value, they will “study” the things that matter to us because they care about those things. We can’t “teach” them; they will learn a different way, because they were born in another time. It’s important to remember that just because a child has never rolled down a car window doesn’t mean she has never ridden with the windows down.
I want my children to know God. I want them to understand that like a GPS satellite, God remains ever present. I want them to know that God is a steadfast God of all time, not just my time. God will look different to my children because their perspective is different; but they will see God as clearly, and as incompletely, as I do. And in their understanding, formed by their “time” I will also come to see God more completely than I do now.
Rather than staying confined within their courses, rivers change their route in response to changes in the environment – new dams, downed trees, droughts or floods. Learning happens the same way, continually making new channels that take us downstream by another route. May we be wise enough to change course to accommodate the “time” and understand that many of our ways no longer exist. May we help our children find their own ways, in their own time.