Thursday, November 18, 2010

It's Me or the Dog (aka Learning to live in Boundaries)

People don't like to me made to do things they aren't interested in, or is not fun or pleasant. But sometimes things are vitally important in challenging us to grow, develop character and become a multidimensional person.

More and more in schools I am seeing young people who are one dimensional. And that one dimension is often not very pleasant. They've never been disciplined or made to do things. They know if they throw a tantrum they can get out of things or get whatever they want. They run away from the things they don't like. It doesn't make them happy people. It doesn't make them fun to be around. And it doesn't help them become good adults.

Even in school now, students less and less have to do subjects they don't like. There is more and more flexibility, but less and less responsibility or challenge.

This assignment's too hard for you? We'll change it. Didn't pass year 8, 9 or 10? Never mind, you can still go up to year 11. If you find that too hard, we'll adapt everything until it's so simple you can't help but pass.

And I'm not blaming any one person, group or system. It is the way society has become and we're all just swept along in the flow.

Where's the natural consequences? If you're lazy and don't try at anything, you'll fail. People won't always be there to rescue you or bail you out. That's what life is like, but we're not teaching them that.

I'm all for finding other pathways, and don't think that getting an education has to all come from school and university. But I also think that if a students wants to take a different pathway, that needs to come from them. They should be learning determination and self-motivation, not "If I yell at teachers and skip school and don't try on my assignments, I can get out of it all and someone else will find me a job."

And unfortunately, because we are all part of this, often life won't even teach them the lessons they need. So many people somehow cruise through life with someone always bailing them out or manipulating things to go their way. I think we often feel guilty, like we've failed these people, so if we just keep fixing things for them they'll be alright eventually. They might survive life, at least for a while, and think it's great.

But they won't be happy. And they won't make the people around them happy. They'll think they are for a while at least. But anything that focuses on the self - on selfishness, personal gain, and "me, me, me", leads only to self-destruction.

They say that dogs are happiest when they have clear rules to follow, know the consequences and have a clear place in the 'pack' - not when they are coddled, and spoilt and treated like babies. Have you not seen those dog training shows? It's Me or the Dog, or the Dog Whisperer.

Where does the responsibility lie? In the dog shows, it's rarely that they've just got a crazy dog - the problem is that the owners need training.

With this case we aren't dogs, so obviously some of it lies in the young people to learn to take responsibility for their own lives. But before that, it lies in the people with the job of teaching them how to do that - that's all of us.

Parents need to be less concerned with being friends with their children, and more concerned with making sure there children become rounded people. They need to instil in their children a sense of self-worth and value and love and compassion. Then whatever circumstances children face, they will be more equipped to deal with it. And less likely to be a pain along the way!

We are happier with clear boundaries and a clear place in the world. With an absence of rules and structure, we may think we're happy and free for a while, but too much freedom becomes a prison of its own. We always end up searching for something to fill the space. We look for something to define us, and end up being consumed and controlled by that thing. And anything other than God goes nowhere good.

We drive people away, we lose our joy, we lose the real things that make us who we are and become that one dimensional shell of who we were created by God to be.

Whether you are having trouble setting boundaries in the lives of those you are responsible for (parents with children), or have grown up without someone setting any boundaries for you (broken homes), or have just rebelled against the boundaries that were set for you (against parents, or against God) it's not too late.

My burden is light - God's boundaries, God's rules - they may seem challenging. We may have to do things we don't like, or don't think we're good at. He will discipline us when we do things wrong. But his burden is light. I don't think this means it's easy to carry all the time - it means that the outcome is worth anything we go through. It doesn't weigh us down and crush us. Carrying his burden ultimately leads us to more joy, fullness, happiness and freedom that we can imagine or ever hope to find in any other source.

Throw off everything you've piled onto your own back - it will crush you - and ask God to replace it.

Matthew 11:30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

Galations 6:7-8 ...You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.

Proverbs 3: 11-12 My child, don't reject the Lord's discipline, and don't be upset when he corrects you. For the Lord corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.

And pretty much read all of proverbs....

1 comment:

  1. They just keep coming - another good blog Jess :0