Living very close to Bear Creek provides a reminder about life. The water flows hard after the rains we’ve experienced this weekend. Yet, even without the heavy rains, the water keeps moving. It might be a mere trickle, but the creek meanders or gushes all the time. Life mirrors the creek.
Some hard times during my life passed at flash flood speed, and I give thanks for that. Other difficulties reflected a season of drought, a time when the water inched its way along. Small rivulets formed; the water seemed to stop or simply move at a snail’s pace. Small progress came, but almost imperceptibly. Lacking patience, I wanted the creek of pain to crest and then move out of my life quickly. Bring on the meandering good times and let me float on the lazy river in my inner tube. Sadly, the ability to freeze the good times does not work; even in the dead of winter, the creek’s water flows under the ice. And who wants to smell a slimed-over pond in summer? Parents who try to hold a particular time in a child’s life only stagnate the water.
A look at the current culture for children and teens finds two extremes to avoid: the creek that flows at a dangerously fast pace, setting up a deluge that can lead to tragedy and the creek that someone wants to dam up and stop.
The world of consumerism calls out with the siren song of the fast flowing waters. Grow up as a rushing current, gain all manner of sensual pleasures early, shop at Victoria Secret, hang out at the mall. Consider just the logo choices available on a T-shirt found at Old Navy or Wal-Mart. Hottie, Born to Shop, Slave, and similar words identify females. Disney, L.L.Bean, Abercromie and others get free advertising by slathering their names across even a simple shirt. And what ever happened to a cotton T, one without Lycra or spandex? The world of entertainment also has a flood ready to drown youngsters. Many conscientious parents would never let their kids see an R rated movie. Good, But what’s openly shown in an R flows rampantly along in a PG-13. Another torrent involves what girls and guys hear and read. Crude, rude and violent come down the creek, each carrying debris that fouls the water. People often quote Proverbs 4 but stop too soon. “Guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life,” says verse 23. The following verses warn the reader to watch what they say, what they look at , and where they go. A wise parent chews on the ideas in the text and discusses the applications with the children in the family.
If the torrential rains of the 21st century spell disaster, why not dam up the waters? Stagnation does not produce healthy adults any more than the swirling eddies that accompany racing waters. To remain almost immobile in a pool of pity, anger or depression benefits no one. Hanging on to good things such as childhood triumphs, beauty, or intellect develops a smelly body of water not even fit for the fish that park rangers use to stock the creek. Pampered children often develop into adults who can’t function in a world where they are no longer the princess or king of the mountain. A child cut from a team, musical ensemble or drama production can bring out both the parents who want to make sure their child’s creek flows swiftly or those who do want the child to tread water right here forever. The apostle Paul addresses this scenario in I Corinthians. There he reminds us that he thought, talked, and reasoned as a child when he was a child, but put away childish ways when he became a man.
So act wisely as your children pass through the creek waters. In the Egyptians’ rush to kill the fleeing Israelites, Pharoah’s army “sank like lead in the mighty waters.” Later in Israel’s history the prophet Isaiah warned, “the waters will fail from the sea, and the river will be wasted and dried up.” For parents to navigate the childhood and adolescent years, Proverbs 18 offers this aphorism for meditation: “The wellspring of wisdom is a flowing brook.”