We didn’t let our oldest of four sons watch Power Rangers when he was young, even though he desperately wanted to. And the reason was, I dunno, maybe he might confuse the magic and power of the Rangers with the power of Christ or something like that, or maybe they’re bad role models?
Yeah, well good for us, because in 2008 when our youngest son was six years old all he could talk about was his love for the Red Power Ranger. We had caved. It was also the summer of 2008 when our third son was eight and came home from “Explore the World” Day Camp with exciting news: “Mom, there’s this place with books you can get for free with really cool information and stories about the world. We even have one in our town! It’s called the library.” I didn’t get “Mom of the Year” in 2008.
Now, I think of the access to all sorts of news, information and “stories” via the handheld device in their hands. The Internet has been a godsend, as well as one of the most harmful places for our children (and ourselves) to fall prey to. We start to wonder and compare: Who does the world say we are? Are we good looking, successful and ‘doing it right,’ and how many ‘likes’ is good enough? Sadly, we compare ourselves to others in the world while trying to find our own identity.
But listen: Our real identity comes from who God says we are. We are his kids, fearfully and wonderfully made, and he loves us for who we are and not for what we do. There are no conditions to His love. He just loves us. Think about it! You are created in the image of God himself; by a creator who doesn’t make mistakes. ALWAYS remember you are not a mistake, even though you make mistakes.
Zero judgement from me if you’ve used media on any device as a pacifier. You are not a bad parent. You’re a parent. It’s trying, tiring and frustrating at times. The Internet has helped and saved you. I get it. It’s helped me too. We must simply establish healthy boundaries, for our children and ourselves.
Know Jesus. Know what the gospel is about. It will save you. He will save you. As Christians, we are supposed to be telling people the gospel, which is the good news about who God is, and what he has done for us to bring us into a right relationship with him despite our lack of curiosity about him, and our focus on ourselves instead of him. The precondition to loving God and sharing the gospel is to know him.
Most people are born into a certain religion, or learn it from their parents or their culture, and they either adopt it without thinking or they reject it without thinking. They are not interested in investigating who God is, using reason and evidence, including scientific and historical evidence. That does not mean the evidence isn’t there. A good start is reading Josh McDowell’s book, “Evidence that Demands a Verdict,” Lee Strobel’s “The Case for Christ,” or C.S. Lewis’s “Surprised by Joy” and “Mere Christianity.”
The best investment of your time is to investigate whether God is real. If he isn’t, who cares what he says? If He is, we should all care what he says. It’s wrong to say that investigating doesn’t matter or that all religions are the same. God has left clues of who he is in the natural world and in history — he expects us to be looking for him. He is as real as any other person you know, and his character is as defined as that of any other person you know.
He says, “He who seeks me diligently will find me.” (Proverbs 8:17) He doesn’t say you will find him if you seek him flippantly. “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)
I recently connected with this. We have made a very fatal error in our search for meaning and significance. In our frenzy to reach the “top,” whatever or wherever that is, we mistake prominence with significance. Humanity has deluded itself into thinking that if I am well known, well liked, in great demand and prominent, then I will find true meaning. The brokenness and heartache of places like Hollywood would beg to differ. Mistaking prominence with significance and meaning is a very deadly error. It results in a mad rat race as people, desperate to fill the emptiness, scurry to the ‘top.’ No thought is given to whether they will actually find what they’re looking for. No consideration is given to the thousands of people who made it to the world’s idea of “top” and then were bitterly disappointed.
“The top” just doesn’t cut it. Position and prominence will never fill the eternity God has put in our hearts. As with so many things regarding the kingdom of God, the road to significance and meaning is the direct opposite of the world’s path. Jesus said that if you want to be great, if you want to know that you’re making a positive contribution, if you really want to find meaning, then stop trying to be important.
Jesus’s answer to a world frantically searching for meaning is this: Learn to serve! In being a servant — someone who seeks to lighten the load of others — we find fulfillment and freedom.
Find the freedom. Find the identity in who God says you are. Let your children find him, and along the way you may be surprised at what else they find.
I believe through all the trenches of parenting, social media and Power Rangers that our four sons have all “found” Jesus. They know him personally. The pull of media can be bad, but there are also a million ways to find the blessings within good boundaries.
During the summer of 2018, only two of the four boys remained at home, and the one would leave for college in the fall. For some reason, I remember focusing on my role as a mom that summer, and there was God, always ready to show me that despite my “bad mom” moments, he has been there all along with his grace and parenting in my life as his child. That is such comfort. As I was journaling on the couch about my mom habits, David announced he was headed out to the library.
“Dave, why are you going to the library? Are you just going to meet up with someone?”
“Ah no Mom. I’m going to check out a book.”
Really. And he did and he does, and he reads them. Joey does too. Who knew? God does. He knows us. He knows His kids and all the crazy things of this world and with all of it, he loves us like crazy too.
This column is a regular feature of the Detroit Lakes Tribune's monthly Faith page. Debbie Griffith is a Detroit Lakes-born speaker, radio personality and writer who now resides in International Falls, Minn.