By ecrowl on February 29, 2012
There is no sidewalk-dawdling or dilly-dallying on the streets of Manhattan. At least not the kind that a little Country Mouse might do on a Saturday afternoon on a quiet semi-rural road or suburban cul-de-sac.
There is the choice of holding Mommy's nervous hand ever-so tightly or riding in the umbrella stroller.
"Lotta people." The Bug offers his two-year old assessment of a city of over 8 million people.
Indeed, little man. Lotta people.
Immersed in the city as we not only navigate a "lotta people" in front of us but also puddles beneath us and umbrellas above us, I am ever-so conscious of the fact that the city does not revolve around us.
I think about this in light of parenting, how we serve our children, almost to an extreme. Not intentionally, we often teach our children that they are the center of the universe.
...the French have managed to be involved with their families without becoming obsessive. They assume that even good parents aren't at the constant service of their children, and that there is no need to feel guilty about this (emphasis mine).
She points out that many Americans tend to "hyperparent." You know, the stereotypical hovering helicopter parent?
Back to the city.
Very quickly, the two-year old learns that his mother, that city, simply cannot serve him. Oh, how he desires to dawdle and splash in those puddles, to nudge the person in front of him at the cross walk.
By necessity, one must become less ego-centered in a place like the city. We must weave ourselves into the fabric that is the city, not expect it to rework itself to cater to us.
If we reach the station at 2:05 for the 2:01 train, chances are that the "all aboard" call has been made and the train is long gone.
I love that there's a certain camaraderie -- albeit in anonymity -- an unspoken understanding that just as I need to make that train, so does the elderly gentleman hobbling across the platform, dodging puddles.
Isn't this at the very core of the gospel? To die to ourselves?
Paul reminds us,
Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.Philippians 2:3-4
Kathy Keller, wife of Pastor Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in NYC, lists many cultural, economic, & spiritual benefits of raising kids in the city. I will echo her list and say that children (and their moms and dads!) quickly see firsthand not only the "sinfulness of the world, which is up close and visible in the city," but the fact that the city, the world, does not serve them.
...just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. -Matthew 20:28
Furthermore, Sally Lloyd-Jones, author of The Jesus Storybook Bible, discusses this very notion in her article, "Teach Children the Bible is Not About Them"
When we drill a Bible story down into a moral lesson, we make it all about us. But the Bible isn't mainly about us, and what we are supposed to be doing---it's about God, and what he has done! (emphasis mine).
Amen. The Bible is about our Father, and we are called to look beyond ourselves.
Oh, but parents, friends, this is a difficult charge, isn't it? It sounds so easy, right? It's hard enough for us to humble ourselves, let alone teach our children to do the same.
And, so the City remains a great Teacher. May we, as parents resist the urge to hyperparent, to teach our kids to serve others, to love the people in the big city, that big world out there. Let's watch those umbrellas and puddles, but not lose sight of the sea of lost souls -- those "lotta people" -- around us who need our love. And our children's love.
As the French say, "Courage!" Have courage. You can do it -- in His strength, of course.
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