Listen to the Stories Your Children Tell Themselves

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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.

I've blogged about a few of them before.

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.

Practicing Thanksgiving

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.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Empty Nester

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  1. Sarah

    I sent the article that Sarita referenced, about darkness in YA books, to a friend. This particular friend went through a period of deep depression, and while she is much recovered, she very much remembers that time. She said that during that time, she much preferred to read books that were light, feel-good books. Fantasy, romance, adventure, that sort of thing.

    I think there's a world of difference between books that show a perfect, ideal life, and books that wallow in misery and despair. In my opinion, most Sonlight books find that balance. They're about people who deal with adversity, make mistakes, and go through very sad things, but who hang on to God and each other and generally survive and grow despite what they go through. I like that, and I think that's a great kind of book for almost every kid, whether for a kid leading a pretty normal life, or a kid suffering through terrible things.

  2. Grace H.

    Thank you, Luke. We all need to be reminded that though we are "children of light" we are surrounded by darkness. Sometimes that darkness is choking, stifling, suffocating, and tangible.

  3. Absolutely, Sarah. Even reading the Bible shows both highs and lows, good and evil. But it also shows God's redemption and loving kindness.

    Grace, may we be children of light who shine like stars in this generation!


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