Advice the World Won’t Give You (Part 4)

Dear Children,

Don’t expect recognition for doing the right thing.

In fact, expect that many people will dismiss you because you’ve “never really lived.”

People who make good choices are assumed to be naive.  

The culture tends to value those who have done really stupid things, once they claim they’ve learned their lesson.  If you want to be popular, then get tangled in bad relationships, or drugs, or preferably something that lands you in the hospital or jail or both… and THEN, after a series of bad choices, announce that you’re ready to change.

You’ll become cultural heroes!

The biggest screw-ups become the most popular motivational speakers, because (we think) they’ve really experienced ALL life has to offer. We believe those screw-ups have MORE to offer than a small-town A-student who has never been in trouble.

So, I’m warning you, children: people might think you got where you are because you’ve never really been tempted…

They’ll think you don’t know what it’s like to struggle…

It rarely occurs to an arrogant Screw-Up that a “Good Kid” earns that label because he/she has struggled exactly as they have…and, unlike the screw-up, the Good Kid won!

Not only do I expect you to do what’s right without recognition.  I expect you to do what’s right, even when you’re devalued because of it.

Even when your wisdom is called “privilege”  and your victories are called “luck.”

When you try to tell others the secrets of your successes, and you’re told to sit down because they would rather take advice from screw-ups than have the humility to listen to a Good Kid, please remember that social recognition was not your goal in the first place.

Know that your children and their children and their children will benefit in a hundred unseen ways from the fact that you never ran with the wrong crowd… you never had to be set straight in the court system… you never NEEDED a major life turnaround, because you had the strength and determination to walk the narrow path from the beginning.

Your mom gets it.

I’ve had my life’s accomplishments listed for me as if they’re strikes against my credibility.  “Well, you’re not very experienced because you married the only man you’ve ever been with!  You had kids young! You’ve never run from the cops–never even TRIED drugs!”

I know how hard it is not to scream at those people:  “THAT’S BECAUSE I’M SMARTER THAN YOU!”

…but don’t do that, babies.  Be wise enough to hold your tongues.

Even though some folks will assume life has been easy for you, be proud that you’ve made it look easy.

The Arrogant Screw-Ups have to believe their lots were harder, because they feel small (and like a screw-up) when they stand next to you.

There will always be a bigger celebration for the Prodigal than for the faithful children who’ve done the difficult, self-disciplined thing all along…

Be the faithful, self-disciplined ones anyway.

I’m so proud of you.

Love, Mom

 

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9 thoughts on “Advice the World Won’t Give You (Part 4)

  1. A Bit Of Orange

    THANK YOU! Like anyone else who grew up in the church, sometimes I thought, “I wish I had been a murderous crack-ho when I was younger so MY testimony could be cool!” but can’t we just be thankful for having made good decisions? I mean, praise to God who guided me, because I’m not all that strong or smart on my own. But what’s wrong with a vanilla testimony?
    Why can’t we also acknowledge that living a “good” life is possible and the BETTER option? It’s like our whole culture, church included, sides with schools handing out condoms because they think kids CAN’T wait, or with the outrage against VP Mike Pense for not dating other women, when we should be saying, “Hey, that’s wise. Maybe good decisions can protect us from drama and trauma.” I don’t condemn Christians for having tatts, drinking beer, smoking legal products, or having a past, but since the 2000’s they’ve wearing it like a badge of honor. “LOOK AT ME! I’M WEARING AN OBAMA “CHANGE” SHIRT WHILE HOLDING A BEER IN MY TATTOOED HANDS! DON’T JUDGE ME! #JesusWasNOTaRepublican”
    I for one don’t drink, never did drugs, have no rap sheet, no tattoos, and only the one wife. I don’t feel like I didn’t sin enough to say I have lived. I don’t regret the sins I didn’t commit, only the ones I did. But again, praise Jesus- those are paid for too.

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    1. mrsmcmommy Post author

      What bugs me the most is when there’s a conversation happening about how to handle X or Y problem in the Church, and somebody shows up to play the Recovered Sinner Trump Card. You know what I mean?

      “Hey, everyone, I know there are good points on both sides. But I just want to say, AS A PERSON WHO USED TO (insert sin), I know exactly how to solve this issue.” “Listen to me above all else, because I KNOW BETTER THAN ALL OF YOU WHO DIDN’T MAKE MY MISTAKES.”

      If that’s true, then those so-called “mistakes” were actually a good thing, weren’t they? If you end up wiser than the people who never made those “mistakes” in the first place, then it worked out BETTER. All of us should be murderous crack-hos like you were, so we can end up as brilliant as you are now, right?

      🙂
      I’d just like for the prodigals–specifically the arrogant prodigals–to understand that one of the consequences of bad behavior is having to spend a long, long time earning trust back. Making bad choices CERTAINLY doesn’t mean that you suddenly get to waltz into every group and have your perspective be the correct one.

      Let’s give a little credit to the kids who hear God’s voice and start following him early. They might just have an idea or two about how to help others avoid certain problems since–*cough, cough*–they avoided them and the prodigals didn’t! 🙂

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  2. sklyjd

    Good role models are what kids need. Not ex druggies, ex alkies, ex criminals and ex hookers who often boast of their exploits and believe they are experts because they have “been there and done that “and most are not credible role models as you have basically said.

    It is a fact that kids copy and emulate the ones they admire, Truth is, God’s word means sweet FA to most of them, parenting skills and high performing role models and their peers make the biggest difference to their attitudes and futures, but the problem is that they see these so called elite role model music stars, Hollywood actors, and sports celebrities indulging in drugs, crime, fraud, suicide, abusive language, and multitudes of sexual partners.

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  3. RAINY DAY POSTS

    I must say, when I see people who have not fallen to the same problems I have, I am amazed at them. I don’t say, “Well, you just don’t understand my problems.” I tend to say, “How???”
    In this modern world, it is almost impossible to resist the wrong choice, because “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”, and “you won’t have any stories later in life if you don’t make mistakes now”… Right???
    I’d rather be able to tell my kid how strong I was to not fall into the traps that I did. But I can’t. Now, sure I can tell people how I overcame those struggles, but I can’t tell them how to avoid them.

    This post is a very important thing for people to read. Thank you for writing it.

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    1. mrsmcmommy Post author

      Thanks for reading, Rainy!
      I’ll admit, the post feels a little self-indulgent. 🙂 On my Facebook page, I’ve had just a little push back from some folks who are saying, basically, “Your reward is going to come from God–not from the recognition of man.” (They’re right, of course.)

      But I really want my kids to be prepared for the possibility that making right choices is a double blow: hard to overcome temptation and also hard to deal with The Spotlighted Sinners later on, who are asked to do all the sharing and teaching and leading… Yes, my children may have to accept it, because life isn’t fair. Just be ready for it! (Don’t say I didn’t warn you, kids!) 🙂

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  4. Wally Fry

    Hi Amanda

    Sorry I haven’t visited in a while. Work has been crushing my soul LOL

    Great post. I agree, there is a tendency sometimes to minimize the importance of the regeneration of folks who never had a “Road to Damascus,” moment. I think because the change may seem almost unnoticeable we think there has been no change. I had one, as I really sucked. My wife did not, as she has been in church literally since she was in diapers.

    I don’t really like to say much about all that, as it’s simply not important. I have actually pointed out to folks when they want to recap how “big” the change was, that all it really means is like you said….they were just way smarter than me.

    I work with the kids a lot, and rarely if ever talk about that stuff with them. I use my experiences to be able to empathize and understand them, and will talk if they want to, but I don’t offer it unasked hardly at all. Frankly, I don’t want them to think they can be that stupid and end up okay. Most of them think I am the boring old guy I seem to be, and that is perfectly okay.That actually works out pretty good, as some of the older ones think they can fool me about things, and are quite shocked when they realize I am not as naive as they thought. Hee hee hee.

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