THE FATHER’S EMBRACE
What I am about to say is not very popular, and will likely make a few people angry. But I think this needs to be confronted. As a therapist, I work with a number of children and teenagers contending with severe anxiety. This makes me very sad, as I realize that American culture and the state of the family in general tends to exert unhealthy pressure and stress on kids in ways that cause significant physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional suffering.
From the time kids are very young, they are expected to learn volumes of random information and facts which are disconnected from their historical and philosophical contexts; to be superstars on the soccer fields and basketball courts; to gain mastery over every technological gadget under the sun; to always get A’s in school so they can attend and graduate from the best colleges and universities; to seek out careers that will impress others and make them wealthy; to earn degrees and titles and trophies; to live in the best neighborhoods and to drive the finest cars.
Yet very little attention is devoted to teaching kids to be emotionally healthy; to receive more of God’s love and mercy; to value failure and mistakes as an integral part of life’s journey; to place compassion for others ahead of selfish ambition; to seek out professions that attend to the suffering of humanity; to rest and refresh their minds, bodies, and spirits at regular intervals; to listen to and cherish the wisdom and stories of their elders; to develop virtue in places of pain; to grow toward relational maturity; to gain wisdom over knowledge; to value authenticity over performance and image; to slow down, turn off the video games, and spend time in simplicity and moments of sacred silence; to listen for the voices of heaven and the angels; and to soak in the beauty and joy of life itself and God’s creation, not in possessions.
Yet until we as a people recognize which gods of the age which have stolen our hearts and souls, and unto which we offer in sacrifice our very own children, I fear we may lose the next five generations. We have much to change in our priorities, our perspectives, and our passions if we ever expect our kids to be healed.
So, all this to say, let each of us pray for our children fervently (knowing their mortal enemy will devour them if we don’t), give them more time and affection, hold them closer, bless them daily by name, accept who they are, and be lavish with our praise and approval of them. Let us love them in a way that releases them to soar spiritually on wings of eagles, high above the impoverished landscape of a culture decadent in self-absorption, entertainment, performance addiction, and faddish lifestyles. Let us lead kids away from their anxieties and fears and into the Father’s embrace…because His perfect love casts out fear.