One thing I’ve grown to love as a father is the natural innocence of my girls. To children things are supposed to be a particular way, they should be that way with everyone, and there is no exception to that rule. That perspective of society lets them live in a bubble of innocence until one day they get old enough and for the first time they see and experience evil in people’s lives and it changes them forever. As parents we protect them from that reality as long as we possibly can and keep them protected in that bubble of innocence, but one day that bubble will pop and that innocence will be lost forever. I’m not looking forward to that day. And for that reason there are a few things I wish my daughters would never have to learn.
I wish my daughters would never have to learn that not everyone goes to church. You see, from their first two weeks of life our daughters have attended every service of the church including gospel meetings, lectureships, Vacation Bible Schools, youth devotionals, etc. In our house it has not been, nor will it ever be an optional matter. And not just because I’m “the preacher” and I’m “expected to be there.” If I never stepped foot in a pulpit again we would still be there every time the doors are open. That’s the emphasis placed on Christians assembling to worship in the New Testament (Acts 20:7; Hebrews 10:25) and so that’s the emphasis we observe as a family. And since that’s all they’ve ever known then their natural assumption has been that everybody does the same thing. Sadly, though, one day they will realize that isn’t true with everybody. That car we just met on the road on Sunday morning isn’t going to church like we are. That family eating ice cream beside us on Wednesday night didn’t just come from Bible study. That day their eyes will be open to the reality of this world’s indifference to God. I only hope that while their innocence will be gone that their resolve will remain.
I wish my daughters would never have to learn that lying is an option. I’m amazed at the blatant honesty of children. Sometimes it’s funny. Other times it’s just humbling. The idea that a person would honestly admit their fault knowing that consequences will follow is so far outside the realm of normality today that we’re shocked when we experience it. But children don’t know that dishonesty is an option. We are born with the instinct to be truthful. We only lie when we learn that it is an option. Thankfully my girls have not learned that yet. But I know that one day they will. They’ll hear a friend tell a teacher or a parent something they personally know is not true, they’ll see them avoid the consequences that their actions deserve, and from that point on lying will always be an option. Even if they are never actually dishonest themselves, the temptation will always be present. God has always expected His creation to be honest, from the consequences of Satan’s lie in Genesis 3:4 to His sweeping condemnation of all liars in Revelation 21:8. His intention is that we not lie to one another (Colossians 3:9). But the day is coming when my girls will learn the reality of the world’s indifference to honesty. But as they lose that innocence I pray they will maintain their integrity.
I wish my daughters would never have to learn that dressing immodestly is an acceptable social norm. It’s only been over the last few years that I’ve had to deal with the headache of helping shop for girls’ clothing. Sure I’ve gone with my wife when she’s shopped for clothes and have seen the atrocious options available for grown women. That’s been bad but nothing grown women choose to put on their bodies surprises me anymore. But what is even more disturbing are the clothes designed, marketed, and sold in stores for not just teenage girls, but preteen and adolescent girls. My girls will have every right to be stylish and fashionable, but at the same time they will be appropriately covered. Right now as far as they know there is no other option. But that innocence will be lost soon in a sea of low cut tops and short cut skirts. They’ll have friends who dress in ways they really shouldn’t. They’ll see other girls their age wearing types of clothes to which they’ve never been accustomed. God has told women (and men by the way) to “adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefastness and sobriety…” (1 Timothy 2:9-10). That’s the standard we’ve enforced, but one day they’ll learn that many other young ladies in the world choose to dress in a much more provocative way. When they do I hope that they’ll choose to respect themselves in the way that they dress.
I wish my daughters would never have to learn that people will be lost. Children, in their innocence, don’t understand the concept of sin. Sure, they can recite what they’ve been told about sin but I don’t think they really understand it. To most children, everyone who dies “goes to heaven” or “goes to be with God.” I only wish that was true. Eventually we all live long enough to experience what sin is like and what sin does and then we really learn what sin will ultimately do – it will cause people to lose their souls (Romans 6:23). It takes resolve to resist the appeal of sin and dedicate your life to God. Most people won’t have that resolve (Matthew 7:13-14). It’s troubling when you realize that people you know, people you love, people you spend time around every day will one day have to face eternal consequences for their actions. While my girls may not grasp that concept now they will one day. I just pray that when they do their resolve to go to heaven will only grow stronger.
Life can be rough. The more we learn the more vulnerable we are to the impact of what we learn. There’s a lot that I’m looking forward to my children learning and knowing. But while much of what we learn contributes to our growth as people there are many other things that we can learn throughout life that discourage and can contribute to our demise. I know that innocence is temporary. But thanks be to God that when our innocence is gone His redemption remains.