I read an interesting quote today. The whole article is here if you’re interested–it’s about homeschooling expectations. But the part that caught my interest was this:
When we are preoccupied with outward form our focus tends to become shallow and behavior oriented. We look upon our children as if they are roses that can be trained to grow a certain direction by constant pruning and binding. Subsequently, we rely heavily upon our authority in an attempt to bring our children under our total control. We assume if we give them the Word of God, shelter them from harmful influences, discipline them consistently, and maintain high standards for their outside, that their inside will inevitably be shaped.
I guess the picture that came to my mind as I read this was a Chinese woman’s foot. Remember how they used to bind them when they were small, because tiny feet were considered beautiful? If the feet are bound and not allowed to grow properly, they do remain small, so the outward appearance is “right” (according to their culture.) However, when her feet are bound the girl is subjected to a great deal of pain, bones are broken, and the result is that her feet grow in contorted shapes, so she is essentially crippled for life. If you’re unfamiliar with the practice, there are pictures of what it looked like here and here .
It has always amazed me that anyone would willingly subject their child to such torture, but try to realize that those parents were trying to do what they thought would be best for the girl’s future. If she had huge, ugly (normal!) feet, she would never be accepted as a wife, and would live her life rejected and alone and poor. Never mind if she couldn’t walk more than a few steps–that kept her in her place!
I had to think that essentially the same thing can be done on an emotional level. How easy it is to believe that we have the perfect formula, that we know how to live right, and then try to force others into that same box! But when we do that, we are only shaping the outside. We have absolutely no way to control the inside. The inside can continue to grow, ugly and deformed, contorted in unbelievable ways, while the outside looks just the way we want it to.
Think about that in the context of child-raising. Think about it in the context of religion. Sad, isn’t it? It makes twisted, crippled feet look like a very small problem!
How much more loving to win the heart, to appeal to the spirit, rather than to press into a mold! Aren’t we thankful that our Lord deals with us just this way?
Thank you Lord, for releasing us from bondage!