Unlearning/Relearning

I’m currently reading Love Wins by Rob Bell. His writing style is not my favorite (in fact, it’s a bit obnoxious), but he’s controversial and thought-provoking, which made him perfect for my Lent book list.

Yesterday I was trudging along on page 22 when I was suddenly stopped by this:

My wife, Kristen, and I often talk about raising our kids in such a way that they have as little as possible to unlearn later on in life.

In this particular section he’s talking about our image of Jesus, the stuff we’re taught as children compared to the stuff we learn as we get older. However I immediately expanded this thought to a much broader scale and in turn felt the weight of everything I’m teaching my boys – intentionally or unintentionally. Then I started thinking about all the things I’m unlearning now, and then I got a headache.

I am very intentional about driving home the essentials with my boys – love God, be kind, be thankful, eat the food Mom puts on your plate – with the hope that these are the umbrella values that encompass the rest. For example, if you learn to be kind, then you won’t need to be taught all the things you’re not supposed to do that aren’t kind.

[By the way, no one tells you that this is the meat of parenting. NO ONE. And if they did tell you, then you weren’t listening because you were too preoccupied picking out cloth diaper patterns.]

After pondering the concept of unlearning, I heard this from Don Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements, first thing this morning:

You cannot give what you do not have.

Sure, that sounds pretty simple. For example, I cannot give you ham sandwich if I do not have a ham sandwich.

But what about –

I cannot give you patience if I do not have patience, or

I cannot give you perspective if I do not have perspective, or

I cannot give you calm if I do not have calm, or

I cannot give you laughter if I do not have laughter, or

I cannot give you God if I do not have God.

Yes, now I see what he means. And therein lies the weight of raising these boys. If I want to teach them things they won’t need to unlearn later – love, kindness, God – then I better make sure I already have that stuff to begin with. If I want to parent in confidence and not out of fear, if I want to show them everyday what is really important, if I want to equip them with everything they need for productive living, then I have to start with me and my own heart.

And that sounds too overwhelming for words.