Off to School

Jacob and I joined the parade of parents and kids walking to school this morning in our neighborhood. Down the sidewalk we all trooped - the kids with their shiny new shoes and backpacks, and the parents with their Target bags of tissues and other various school supplies.

I have to admit that I was feeling very anxious about the new school year. It seemed to me that the new year held for the boys the potential of being almost as big of an adjustment as our initial move did. Well, not for Jericho, really, who changes classes all day, and is used to having familiar faces sprinkled throughout his day. Jacob was my main concern, as he is in one class all day, every day. Considering that there are three sixth grade classes at his school, he had a pretty good chance that he would not be in the same class with his "only friend" Josh. Obviously he would still know some people, but I (and he) wanted his year to start as easily as possible. In essence, I just wanted him to be happy.

Fortunately, he is in the same class with Josh, and that did make him very happy. He was able to go into his room this morning with more confidence and more security than he would have had otherwise.

I am sure that there are not many people who would argue against this desire of mine for things to go well for my kids. I think it's natural for parents to want the best for their children, and to do what we can to create and maintain good situations for them.

However, at the same time that I write this, I am a little troubled by it. In short, I am having a mental wrestling match between justifying this attitude, and a quote I read last week during our trip. The quote came from the most recent copy of the "Today's Christian Woman" magazine. It was in the middle of an article by Helen Lee on "Missional Moms", which in a nutshell means outreach-oriented moms. The author of the article was talking about different moms worked to minister to their community, and described how one family moved away from their very nice neighborhood of Naperville, Illinois, to a neighborhood described as "low-income" and "under-resourced". The article stated that the biggest concern the parents had about this move was the impact it would have on their children, as they of course wanted a safe situation and high-quality educations for their children. However, "they felt that giving those values top priority would make it difficult to embrace a more missional attitude of loving those who need Christ the most." Then the mom refers to someone named Dave Goetz, author of a book called Death by Suburb. "Dave said the number one toxin in suburbia is that we live through our children, and that their success has become our measure of success. We have to be able to let go of that, and be okay with our kids not having the best, and being the best, and doing the best. Other qualities, such as compassion and a deeper connection to God, are even more important."

Wow. Now that is a thought-provoking statement. I'm still chewing on that one - even as I just today sent my kids off to schools that are among the best, in a school district that is considered to be among the best, content that they are in situations that are good for them, and make them happy.

But are they compassionate? Do they have a deeper connection to God? Do they have a sense of loving those who need Christ the most?

Serious questions to consider on this evening after the first day of school.

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