Thursday, November 10, 2011

Bless the Children

Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."  (Matt. 19:14)

I believe that Jesus is the epitome of pure, unconditional, perfect love.  I also believe that when children are born, they are also born of that same love.  They were born geniuses, and they came into this world knowing who they were. 

Then as they began to get older, they began to learn something completely different.  One of the first words they learned was ‘no’ and they began to learn what they couldn’t or shouldn’t do.  They began to learn that their identity was something completely different than what they knew when they were born.  They began to be “humanized” by the adults who raised them. 

This “humanizing” is part of the process of life that we learned from our parents and others around us, who learned it from their parents, and on back through the beginning of time.  Parents, and other caregivers, teach their children based upon what they know, what they were taught, and many of those lessons came from their own experiences and perceptions of what they believed life to be.  Many had great upbringings.  Many didn’t.  Parents can only do the best they can with what they know at the time.

Jesus, as well as all the other great Spiritual teachers throughout time, knew the value of children and how precious they are.  When Jesus’ disciples tried to keep the children away from Jesus because they didn’t think He could be bothered by them, Jesus rebuked them by telling them in a parable of the sheep, “See that you do not despise one of these little ones.  For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.”  (Matt. 18:10).

So many of our children are suffering in ways we never could have imagined in our time.  Child abuse is at an all-time high.  Bullying is out of control and is causing some children to commit suicide.  Many children do not feel safe at school, and in some areas, children have to go through metal detectors.  Gang activity is high.  Many children are not getting enough to eat.  The number of children on antidepressants and other mood altering drugs is unbelievable.   Depression is being diagnosed in children as young as three!  And there are one to three million runaway and homeless kids living on the streets in the United States alone!  Buddha said, "What's done to the children is done to society."  It’s true.  Our children become adults and the cycle starts all over again. 

Some say that our children have it so much easier than previous generations.  Maybe; in some ways.  But children today have a lot more distractions than when we were in school.  My generation only had three TV channels, kids played outside most of the time, we could walk to school and play in the neighborhood because parents didn’t have to worry about us, and most of our outside activities were school related.  Today, kids are bombarded with countless high tech products, which include iPods, cell phones, computers (games, internet, etc.), they have easier access to drugs and alcohol, the divorce rates are high and many kids come from a one parent family, and when there are two parents, both of them work, and the list goes on.  It comes at them from all directions and from many sources.

So, what’s the answer?  It seems so overwhelming that it’s hard to come up with any one answer.  But we can start small.  How many times a day do you tell your child that you love them, that you’re proud of them, and that your life is blessed because they are in it? How often do you listen to them without judging, and really show an interest in their interests?  Do you encourage them to be who they want to be or do you try to make them be who you want them to be?  How much time do you spend with them? Even if you and your children aren’t getting along at the moment, you can still begin with just saying the words, “I love you.” 

Just as Jesus saw all children as blessings, it is up to us to see all children as blessings, and not just our own children. You can say an encouraging word to any child of any age.  Help other children who may need it.  There are children all over the world making a difference because they had someone to believe in them.  Sometimes, all it takes is one person to change a child’s life for the better.  Could that person be you? 

(Published in the Cookeville, TN Herald Citizen newspaper) 


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