Richard Mouw tells of a man from New Jersey in the South for the first time. He noticed that several menu items included grits, so he asked the waitress, “Miss, what is a grit?” She replied, “Honey, they don’t come by themselves.”
In a sense, Christians are like grits. We don’t come by ourselves, we come in relationships. Of course, this would be true of people in general, but it is especially true of those who follow Jesus Christ. We are baptized into community, the body of Christ.
A child’s identity comes out of the relationships within his family and community. He doesn’t get it by words alone, but by interactions that involve awareness of others, conflict resolution, conversation, interpretation, ceremonies, community events, and more.
We cannot allow our children to isolate themselves from others because Proverbs 18:1 says,
“He who isolates himself seeks his own desire.”
Inclusion begins in the family. Allowing our children to spend a lot of time alone in their rooms is simply not healthy for the development of their personalities or character.
Unfortunately, in our day it is easy to let media entertain our children. We have interactive media that can hold our children enthralled for hours. But it is just not real. One hour is okay, but six hours is too much. We must not let our children grow up in a virtual world.
I often notice cars driving down the road with mom on the cell phone, kids watching the DVD player in the back seat, and no interaction taking place. Turn travel time into game time, conversation time, catch up time, question and answer time, books on tape time for all (you pick the books), learn a language time. Zig Ziglar calls travel time in the car a “university.”
If you have a trip to take, plan activities for the family that include interaction as well as time alone. Patricia would often help our kids pack their own backpacks for trips that included books to read, a game to share, and a snack. In addition, she brought books-on-tape for all of us to listen to and discuss together.
Our travel to school became fun and purposeful. In the spring we counted dogwoods in bloom. One year we listened to short Spanish lessons from PowerGlide. We guessed who “Mr. Walker” might be as we passed him each morning on our way to school. Once we stopped and gave him a loaf of homemade bread. Was he a surprised exerciser! The next morning he saw us coming and gave us a thumbs-up.
I hope you get the idea.