Sunday, August 13, 2006

On Walton's Mountain

Is it unrealistic to believe that the simplicity of life and love in a family could be like that which was found on Walton's mountain? Is it self-defeating to think that a family could exist in such a manner? In a world of "keeping up with the Jones'", capitalism, high-tech gadgets, fast food, dance class, sports, two working parents, daycare, before/after school care, divorce, remarriage, divorce, remarriage, and so on, is it possible to get back to days of togetherness? Is it possible to have dinner together and the entire family participating willfully in the preparations and clean up? Even the church is busy with so many activities that separate family members instead of encouraging unity at home.

The children go to children's church. I don't even know which kids belong to which parents because I never see them together! What happened to the day when children came in for part of the service, then were dismissed as the adult message began? I believe some churches still do practice this, but perhaps more should.

Then we have our precious youth. They sit together in church, not with their families. They go out to lunch after church, and have dinner together on Sunday nights. They have their mid-week fellowship and Bible Study also. After dinnner and class time are over, they play games and fellowship. These get togethers often go on too long and take from time spent with family, at home. This doesn't include the days when they just get together to go to a movie or shopping.

Now, I'm not naive to the fact that teens don't like to "hang out" at home or with their parents. I know that they prefer their peers and crave some independence. But, this is a perfect opportunity to enforce family in spite of it. This is a time to teach them how important togetherness is. Learning about God in a church environment is good, but all the more, it should be practiced at home. It becomes difficult when at home is so limited.

Before the days of two parents working, commercialism, and excessive materialism, families often worked together to keep the home running. Now, we have a tendency to pay somebody to raise the kids and clean the house while two parents go to work to make lots of money to pay somebody to raise the kids and clean the house.

Today, a woman who chooses to stay home to raise her children is often thought of as simple-minded with nothing to offer the world beyond the walls of her home. Women's rights activists see her as being "opressed" and not treated fairly. A woman of this day is often ashamed to say, "I'm a homemaker". In today's society, admitting a desire to stay home is like admitting a desire to have a disease.

I can think of a couple of "old fashioned" families where the husband works and the wife stays home to nurture the family. In their homes it isn't a crime for the woman to let a man be a man and feel like the head of his home. It isn't considered opression for the wife to give him a comfortable home in order that he may concentrate on his role in providing for his family. What a great idea! I wonder where it came from?

I'm not saying that a woman is wrong to have a career, or to the contrary, that the woman should stay barefoot and pregnant as a slave to her husband. But, being a wife and a homemaker should never be considered a place of opression or slavery. It's a blessing, an achievement beyond anything this world will ever recognize, an honor, and a joy. A home should be a refuge, not a place the family avoids. It takes parents, not babysitters to raise a family. Dad and mom need to be the example of the adults they want their children to become. If the kids are spending 8-10 hours daily with other role models, coming home to parents who are exhausted and grumpy, but set in the financial department, who are they learning from? What are they learning?

Is it more important to have the kids involved in sports, music lessons, dance lessons, clubs, and endless competition to acheive social status? Or is it better to teach them about strong family values and good moral character built through spending time together? Everything should be done in moderation or it eventually will become bondage. It's okay to have extra-curricular activities, but whatever happened to the neighborhood kids getting together at the park for a ball game? Now it's all about traveling competitions, training, and practices that drain the bank account, create huge debt, a need for both parents to work more, and a loss of intimate time spent together...time that can never be redeemed. It starts as early as age three! These things aren't all bad, but when they take over the life of the family, divert them from the life God intended, and lead to feelings of failure for the one who isn't "the best", what is it teaching? Aren't we supposed to do everything for God's glory? I could go into the "soccer for Jesus, beauty queen for Jesus, and dancing for Jesus" mentality but that's another journal.

I've often seen my life as one doing without because I've never been well off enough to even gaze at the Jones' back yard. But, because I have focused on trying to be home to raise my kids,

...because I have been unable to achieve certain "status", I have had wonderful opportunities to teach my kids how to appreciate the simple things in life..."

I have never been able to involve them obsessively in sports, music, dance classes, and other expensive activities outside the home (although they do participate in some of these things). Often I have felt guilt because of that and they, at times, may somehow feel cheated. The message of the world is to be successful, compete, be the best at everything and accumulate as many toys as possible! But, because I have been unable to achieve certain "status", I have had wonderful opportunities to teach my kids how to appreciate the simple things in life...things that money can't buy.

I don't want my children to grow up with memories of a stressed-out, depressed, grumpy mom who is too exhausted to talk about their troubles and help them through heartbreak. That's who I was when I was working and going to school as I made an attempt to achieve status and keep up with society.

I want my kids to remember things like John Boy on Walton's Mountain.....the smell of bacon and coffee rising to their rooms on a cold winter morning, the times of praying together over dinner, voices of laughter filling the home, family nights with popcorn and Veggie Tales, hot cocoa at Christmas time....these are the treasures in life. It's a battle to find these treasures (even to recognize them as such) in a fast paced, materialistic, dollar and status worshipping society, but these are the treasures I seek for my family.

So, now I'm on a quest for the Waltons families of this age. Can they exist? Do they exist? What do they look like? Is this kind of living threatened by extinction?

Perhaps all hope is not lost. Perhaps as I investigate, I will find these families and learn from them. Who are they? Are they the simpletons who live in the country, grow gardens, and live in simple homes? Do they exist in the suburbs of small cities? Do they live in the ghettos? Are they rich, or poor? Perhaps they do exist in many faces, homes, and neighborhoods. Perhaps it isn't unrealistic to believe that there are families today who still have the standards and values found in the Walton household.

Isn't there a part of every person who would like to travel back in time and experience the simplicity of home and family as it was in the days when times were "tough"....and families worked together to make the best of life? Isn't there a part in every person that aches for the heritage found on Walton's Mountain?

No comments:

Post a Comment