I realize I am hardly blogging by the outline or by the 31 day schedule. Confession: sometimes writing can overtake real life, and I just needed to attempt to put back in order some of my life chaos. It is tempting to just quit and stop writing the series altogether because of that, but I’m still showing up. I hope these words find each of you well and that you are pondering the things of God. I hope that you will be encouraged by His good news in some way or fashion. May all who are reading these words be blessed.
One of the most profound questions Madeleine L’Engle asks in her book, A Circle of Quiet, is “should we give a child a self-image?” She writes that one of her pupils, Yetta, in one of her short term classes, states that a child should be given a self-image, and then Madeleine herself ponders the answer and truth of this throughout the book. Her immediate reply to Yetta is,
“Hold everything, Yetta. All my little red warning flags are out. I sniff danger here. Do we want to give the child an image of himself–mirror vision? Or do we want what is real?”
This question of giving a child a self-image is contrary to what is taught in schools today. Without a doubt, educators are trying to give children self-images, and most of the time, we mindlessly agree. At some point in the book, she asks, “How do we give the child a self?”
As an adult looking back at my childhood self, I see things differently than how I perceived them at the time. I wish for things to be different. I wish that my “self” had been seen and nurtured. Since I’ve always struggled with identity, I wish someone had guided me in my strengths and weaknesses and helped me explore who I was, who I am. Yet how can the glance back be what is totally real? My perception versus others thoughts and perceptions are often not the same. It is easy to look back and place blame on a parent, and now as a parent myself, I am sensitive to the fact that much of what I am doing could at some point be seen as damaging to my child later. As a parent, I shape my child, but ultimately, in Christ, He uses every thing happening in our lives to shape us, to mold us into His image of who He wants us to be. We are His creation, and while we are the created, we are still being created.
Ultimately, Christ gives the child a self, but how can any adult be a facilitator of this giving the child a self without knowing the child? And who can ever fully know anyone else?
My daughter is half of me and half alien. I joke. We are very similar. There are parts of her that I so identify with, and yet, there are aspects of her that I have to dig for, like mining treasures, I seek to know her. She, being like me, is hard to know, but I must keep trying to get her “self” to rise to the surface and come out so that I can know her, understand her, love her. My love is always an incomplete love, because I am unable to fully know her. Jesus’s love for her is complete, because He knows her fully. He sees the depths and heights of her heart.
“Am I going to do a good deed? Then, of all times, – Father, into thy hands: lest the enemy should have me now.” George MacDonald
Madeleine L’Engle on the above quote: “George MacDonald implies that as long as we put ourselves in God’s hands, then maybe something good can happen, not because of us, but because He helps.”
We must shape our children asking God to use us as His tools.
“Grandma gave me herself, and so helped to give me myself. Is that what Yetta was getting at? Yetta being Yetta, I think it was. But it’s one thing to talk consciously about giving oneself away and another to do it, for it must be done completely unself-consciously; it is not a do-it-yourself activity. No computer can teach it; no computer can show a child compassion, or how to allow people to be different, to experiment, to love. Almost all the joyful things of life are outside the measure of IQ tests, are beyond the realm of provable fact. A person is needed. But if any teacher, no matter how qualified, no matter how loving goes into a classroom thinking, “I am going to give a child a self,” it can’t possibly happen. -Madeleine L’Engle, “A Circle of Quiet”