Sarita's post about young adult fiction grabbed me by the collar and threw me against the wall. As my head smacked the metaphorical bricks, something snapped into focus. Words will fail me here, but I felt a wave of sorrow for the kids I know who reside in a world of misery, angst, exhaustion, and insecurity.
We both know that websites like Pinterest can make us feel like a failure. Homeschool blogs--even this one--can perpetuate the myths that everyone else has it all together. The "stories" we surround ourselves with--written or visual or implied--tell us how "the world really is." And seeing too much perfection is depressing because it doesn't match up with our reality.
At the same time, soaking in negativity drags us down. Despite my mom's herculean efforts, I kindled negative self-talk in my life. These are stories I told myself. "I'm a failure." "Why bother?" "How could I be so terrible at this?" And what I realized as I read Sarita's post is that there are dark places on the internet devoted to just this kind of talk. I'll give you an example.
Like every tool out there, Tumblr can be used for good. From what I've seen, however, such sites are too often a place to compile pictures and quotes--stories--that show a distorted version of the world. It is a modern, personal, bite-sized collection of "young adult literature" that revels in anger, frustration, deviance, destruction, and despair. And at least one of "my" kids spends a ton of time there. She says she loves it, and I can see why: It echoes back to her the stories she tells herself. 25,966 people have shared an image that says they feel
insecure, bitter, angry, hurt, overwhelmed, lonely, depressed, out of control, lost, suicidal, ugly, selfish, anxious, ignored, fat, vindictive, mentally ill, scarred
These twenty-six thousand souls all "gluttonously wallow in darkness." Darkness is a reality. I think you and I have both, at times, felt at least a few of the things on that list. But living in darkness need not be normative.
Indeed, it shouldn't be.
Philippians 4:8 keeps lingering in my mind. Let us think about things that are lovely, pure, right, noble, true... That does not mean we can't also address the pain and suffering around us. In fact, addressing pain and suffering is pure and right and lovely. Redemption is amazing! And the stories included in Sonlight's curriculum--and, you know, the Bible--are full of terrible situations that allow for God's redemptive work.
As you have opportunity to listen to the stories your children tell themselves, please remind them of the grace Christ offers. It could be a good message for you as well. I know I benefit from reminders to demonstrate grace in my own life.
May the truth of the love of God permeate your day.
Filmmaker, Writer, Empty Nester