Are We Raising A Generation Of Heroes Or A Generation Of Villains?

 

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(FreeImages.com/DanColcer)

This morning, I read a recent article about another first-grader being suspended from school.  The 7-year-old boy was suspended because he pretended to launch a grenade while playing during recess.  Within the past two months, I have read about half a dozen reported cases of first-graders being suspended for similar play.

In response to recent tragic circumstances, our society is over-reacting and in the process creating an injustice — especially to young boys.

In the early elementary years, children are developing their ideas of what heroes are and enjoy imitating those concepts of heroes.  Most imaginative play, involving imaginary weapons, is a boy’s way of practicing and imagining what it means to be a hero — to be willing to protect and defend.  They are rehearsing what it means to be courageous and to be willing to fight a good fight.

In our attempts at removing any signs of potential violence, we not only demoralize and humiliate these boys, but we have now called their “hero-play” bad and in the process “villainized” our boys.  Rather than associating them with the “good guys”, we are associating them as the “bad guy.”  That is a social injustice!

These boys are simply being boys. Boys are created with a desire to protect and to defend.  They are more aggressive in nature in order to be courageous enough to face dangers.  

Do we want to raise boys who grow up to fear facing evil?  If so, then we merely need to discourage their efforts to imagine heroes, demoralize their character, and denigrate their name.

Most of what these boys are imitating is similar to what our military does.  Do we accuse our military of being villains instead of heroes when they fight to defend and protect our freedoms?  My young son wants to be a police officer or to be in the military when he is older.  I believe both are worthy callings.  I just hope that some day, if I am called to give the ultimate sacrifice (my son’s life) in order to protect the freedoms of others, that my son is not considered a villain for sacrificing his life so that we can keep ours.

Having “Hero Days” in school is an appropriate proactive approach.  Schools are wise to invite many different types of modern-day heroes to visit their schools.  Today’s heroes are medical personnel, EMT’s, firefighters, police officers, military veterans, volunteers for service organizations, the Coast Guard, service animals, community volunteers who help clean highways, etc…  If we want our boys to identify with heroes, then we must provide them with positive examples of heroes.

There are boys who become violent, but it’s not because they played imaginary heroes. In fact, the boys who become violent are often the boys who were made to feel insignificant, helpless, weak, and “villainized” as the bad guy.

The boys who become violent are often boys who are raised in broken families, a missing positive role model (his father), and/or spend too much time playing the evil guy in video games.  Boys need to be raised to associate with the good guys — not the bad guys.  (A rule in our house is that my boys are never to imitate evil or the bad guy; I want them to associate with good.)

We empower the bad guys by weakening the good guys.  When we tell our boys that imaginary “hero-play” is bad, we are damaging their associations with good heroes and affiliating them with the bad guys.

Boys must be taught that chivalry is not extinct but is honorable.  Chivalry means protecting and honoring those whom we esteem.  It means treating others with esteem.

If we want to raise men who will defend the honor of others, then we must encourage them that protecting and defending is honorable.

So many women feel they have to be tough and be the protectors of their families.  Why is this?  It takes grit and courage to live life well, no matter the gender.  But are some of these women so “tough” because they don’t feel protected and don’t trust the men in their lives to defend their honor?

Boys can be taught discipline and courage through positive activities, such as wrestling and karate, that hone their defensive skills but also teach them how to honor their opponent and how to maintain self-control.

Boys who have the tendency to become the “villain” are often desperate and angry, wanting to be heard and to feel significant.  In seeking to find “significance”, they will take the road of the villain if they feel they can be better heard and recognized that way then by being the hero.

If we want a generation of heroes, then we must encourage our sons to associate with and emulate heroes, to be honorable, to be courageous, and to feel heard.

If we want a generation of men who are spineless, of weak character, and full of anger, then we must squash their heroic ambitions and treat them as imbeciles and crooks.

That’s a sure method to turn our boys from heroes into villains.

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How To Face Your Biggest Obstacle

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It started at the end of last week…  those old negative feelings of discouragement, fear, discontment, washed over me, overwhelming and seeking to bring defeat to my soul.  As my heart cried out to God, asking Him to change my thoughts and help me to think the truth, God began to speak to my heart.

It’s amazing how quickly I can be like the Israelites, seeing God’s miraculous hand of victory and then suddenly back to the complaining and whining and forgetting all that God has already done.

Last week, I had just started a study by Beth Moore on the life of David.  As I completed the study guide for today’s reading and notes, God’s Word began to speak to me once again.

My parents first took me to church as a babe in arms and every Sunday after that; so I grew up, hearing the story of David.  I knew all about how a boy defeated a giant with just a sling-shot and a few stones.  It was an amazing story!  Somehow though, it was easier to imagine those incredible type of events happening to the extremely “righteous” people — someone with extraordinary faith and a special brand of godliness. 

Me?  I saw myself as just the average girl  — nothing extraordinary about me.  Surely, I didn’t have that special brand of godliness or exceptional brand of faith.

So, when those “giants” reared their ugly heads, I became just like the Israelites, accepting defeat before the battle had even begun.  No battle had been waged, but the attitude of defeat had decimated me. 

I stood, outwardly, but inwardly, my heart was crumbling.  I wanted to be that amazing mom, that amazing wife, that amazing friend, that amazing woman of God.  Yet, I felt small, worn out, crushed, weighed down, defeated.  Why?  Sometimes, it only takes a word of criticism.  Mostly, it’s because I am just like the Israelites, measuring the size of the obstacle against my own strength. 

How can one defeat the “giants” out there when one isn’t even fully recognizing the God who is present?  Sometimes, it’s not even understanding the God who is there but understanding my relationship with Him/His relationship to me.  Too often, it’s because I still see myself as having to somehow earn His favor and love.  In other words, I am resting in the strength of my faith and the measure of my godliness.  It’s then I feel defeat.  I know I am not perfect enough, godly enough, faithful enough, nor good enough to keep anyone’s eternal and unwavering affection and devotion.

Anyone’s?  Yeah, when I compare God to earthly loves.  It doesn’t matter how good and loving our parents were nor how loving our husband is.  At some point, human relationships are going to let us down.  They were never meant to be our god.

My parents loved me and do love me.  My husband, he does too.  I know all that.  Yet, there’s that seeking, searching little-girl heart that cries, “Abba, do you love me?  Were you with me when that person let me down?  God, show me where you are when sleep eludes me, the tasks of life overwhelm me, the pain of defeat and fear crush my spirit.” 

Suddenly, a “shade” to the “window” of my soul lifts.  I begin to understand that as wonderful as my husband is, he can’t fill my need for identity and worth.  My kids… they are cute and all that, but they sure let me down at times.  Even friends, as wonderful as they are, can’t fill that desperate need to know that Abba-God loves me — that His love is eternal and unwavering.

I then realize the key to David’s victory.  He didn’t measure his obstacle by the size of his faith or his own strength.  He measured his obstacle against the size of His God.  (Thanks, Beth Moore, for that thought!)

Quoting from Beth Moore’s study guide:

Do you approach every circumstance and conflict as a member of the army of the living God?  Do you continually regard God as able?  Is He not only the Lord Almighty on the page but the Lord Almighty on the pavement? Do you stand in His name?  Our victory rests not on faith in our spirituality.  Our victory rests on faith in our God.  We’re often intimidated in battle because we are uncertain of our faith.  We must remember we don’t stand in victory because of our faith.  We stand in faith because of our God.  Faith in faith is pointless.  Faith in a living, active God moves mountains.

I love that thought: Is He not only the Lord Almighty on the page but the Lord Almighty on the pavement?

“We stand in faith because of our God.”

Lord, help me to understand that I don’t need to envy the “Davids”.  Help me to realize that I am a unique expression of your love and a unique testimony to your creativity.  Help me to understand that I don’t have to be David to defeat the “giants” of life.  Help me to understand that I don’t have to have amazing faith or be a flawless paradigm of godliness.  Help me to see that all I have to do is open my heart to your love and to rest in you — your power. 

Like David, I still have to face the obstacles, but my confidence isn’t in myself or my abilities but it’s in You — the God who created the universe.  He is not only the God of the Universe but the God who took on a fleshly body like mine so He could feel the scourge of the whip and the pounding of the nails being driven into His hands to demonstrate the extent of His love for me!

He is a God so powerful that by the word of His mouth, He brought into existence an entire world and countless galaxies and a God so powerful that He could submit to a wooden cross in order to demonstrate the height and depth of His love for me! 

Could it be?  Could it be that a God so powerful died for me and now seeks to show me how to truly live with Him?  Could it be that He doesn’t seek extraordinary people to do great things?  Could it be that He looks for ordinary people who are willing to let Him do extraordinary things in and through their lives? 

Could it be that in God’s eyes I am just as amazing as David and Joseph and Paul and all of those other people of faith?  Not because I am so special in myself but because He made me, He died for me, and He lives within me!

Lord, is this what it’s all about?  Living a life of victory… it’s facing my biggest obstacles because I am not alone!  It’s because of Who my God is and because of who I am in Him!

What If You Really Did Marry Prince Charming?

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My last blog I wrote was:

https://graceinthemoment.wordpress.com/2013/02/01/why-you-can-be-cinderella-even-without-a-prince-charming/

My focus was on being the “princess” and not waiting for Prince Charming to make your identity.  In other words, we don’t become a “princess” by marrying the perfect “Prince Charming.  We are princesses because we are daughters of the Heavenly King.  We are “princesses” when we allow our Heavenly King to transform our natures inwardly so that we become “princessy.”

Girl-friends, what if we are married to Prince Charming?  Really?  Yes, really!  What if Prince Charming is the man you married after-all?

Think about the fairy tale of Cinderella again.  In fairy tales, the story normally ends after the wedding, and “they lived happily ever after…”  If this story was real life, don’t you think a lot of women would have complained about Prince Charming?  After-all, didn’t his father dictate and plan his life for him?  Makes you question the guy’s backbone.  A redeeming quality was Prince Charming did seem to know a good thing when he saw it.  He also was willing to go to a lot of trouble to find the missing Cinderella.

In real life though Cinderella would have had the interfering father-in-law, the mean stepmother and stepsisters to still handle.  As a princess, Cinderella didn’t have a lot of say over where she went, what she did, and how she lived her life.  There are certain dictates of society for those who rule…

In some ways, I like the story of Beauty and the Beast better.  The story is probably the most applicable to some of us.  Belle meets the Beast, and he’s quite “beastly.”  Belle though is able to look beyond the gruff exterior to the tender heart within.  In the story, she falls in love with the Beast while he is still a beast.  Her kindness and love help with the softening of the Beast.  Yet, within his heart was a willingness and readiness to change.

Gaston was the handsome and popular dude who wanted Belle.  He was egotistical, controlling, self-centered, and cruel.  His outward appearance though made him charming with the girls of the town.  Even though Belle could have had Gaston if she wanted (he wanted her), she instead chose the Beast.   Belle saw past exterior personalities and appearances to the inner heart.

As wives, do we see past the gruff exteriors that our husbands may erect to protect themselves?  Do we see past the outward exteriors and personifications to the inner man?  Do we take time to truly get to know our men?  Do we seek to bring out the “prince” in our men — rather than relegating them to the status of  the despised or feared “beast”?

Grant it, some women are married to true “Beasts”– the “Gastons”.  If we are perfectly honest though, most of us aren’t married to “Gastons.”  We are married to normal guys who are sometimes a little “beastly” but when given the opportunity “transform” into true “princes” that totally out-shine the shallow “Gastons”.

The truth?  Girl-friends, the truth is that we do have a lot of influence over the men/husbands in our lives.  We can cut them down with our words, relegate them to the status of “beasts”, despise them because of our own shallow misconceptions, and as a result completely miss out on the transformation process!

The truth is that our husbands may not even need a transformation process.  It may be that we do.

Contentment isn’t a matter of circumstance or certain people.  It’s a matter of the heart.

The truth?  The truth is that a lot of — most of us — are married to Prince Charming!  We just haven’t learned to look into the hearts of our men or learned to act the “princess” part — to be the Belle who saw into the heart of the Beast.

It’s often not about how “princely” our husbands are.  It’s really more an issue of how we see them and treat them.  Anyone can be quite “beastly” when they are treated as such or seen as such.  It’s not even necessarily that they are even close to “beastly”.  They may be more “Prince Charming” then we realize, but we may be so busy lusting or longing after the “Gastons” or too busy complaining and finding fault to recognize how “princely” they are.  Our complaining or discontentment may be destroying our husbands’ desires to even attempt to be “princely” towards us or at the very least obstructing our perception of their actions.

In other words, our contentment is not based on our circumstances or the “Prince Charmings” in our lives.  Our contentment is a heart attitude.  It’s all about our perceptions.  No man can change the way we see/perceive life.

The question is whether we — you and I — will recognize that Prince Charming just may be the man we married after-all.

You see, it is possible to live happily ever after

Why You Can Be Cinderella Even Without A Prince Charming

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Girl-friends, let’s be honest.  Most of us have had dreams of meeting Prince Charming.  It’s amusing, considering that Prince Charming only exists in fairy tales — yeah, FAIRY TALES! 

How come then does my friend seem to be married to Mr. Perfect?  He’s knock-dead gorgeous.  He’s smart.  He has a good job.  They have a gorgeous house.  They go on romantic dates.  He’s a fun dad.  He’s romantic.  He seems sincere in his walk with the Lord.  Sometimes, the “grass does look greener on the other side of the fence.” 

Most of us love our husbands.  In fact, we would say our husbands are good, kind men.  They do romantic things — didn’t say how often…  They are pretty good looking … most of the time.  But, they do sweat…

Would Prince Charming sweat?  I mean did he ever forget an important date or leave Cinderella to take out the trash.  Wait!  They were royalty.  No work there.

Why do we long for Prince Charming?  Why do we envision fairy tale weddings and fairy tale lives?  For what are we really longing?

Is it because having a Prince Charming somehow makes us the Cinderella?  Do we think we only become “princesses” when we marry a prince? 

What if we could and can be Cinderella without having a Prince Charming?

What if we understood that our Heavenly Father created us to be His “princesses”? 

What if we understood that no matter our circumstances and the people in our lives, we can still be “Cinderellas”? 

What if we understood being a “princess” isn’t about finding a Prince Charming or living in a palace? 

What if we understood being a princess is simply all about “being” — living like royalty because we are.  Yes, you and I…  We are ROYALTY! 

We are princesses because that’s what God thinks of us.  We are daughters of the Heavenly King!  He made us to live amazing lives — lives full of His peace, love, joy, kindness…! 

You and I…  We don’t need to wait for the perfect Prince Charming or for some very futuristic time when our husbands suddenly will become “fairy tale-ish”.  Nope.

God hasn’t placed us in imperfect homes or with imperfect people to try us or to punish us.  He’s placed us where we are to reveal and work within us the transformation of becoming true “royalty” in the way we conduct ourselves, within the very fiber of our being. 

We are becoming “Cinderellas” within — daughters who live and act like their Heavenly Father, the Heavenly King!