My son got his first pedicure this week.
He’s in Kenya with his father and he stepped in so the residents at Mercy House could take their final salon exam on a “real” customer. I think he liked it.
He walked through a slum and visited the home of one of the residents.
He held a baby named after his momma.
My oldest has helped rush a dying woman to a hospital in Ethiopia and my youngest played “maternity home” with her baby dolls the first 5 years of her life.
My kids have been around the globe. And it has changed who they are. And it is determining who they will be.
There’s a cost to raising a missional family.
Yes, they mature a little quicker, they ask, “Where was this made” a little more often. They stand beside you at the bank while you wire money to bury a baby who died too soon and they quickly understand that not everything is about them. They are compassionate and kind and they change the world.
But they also struggle to fit in –to take what they have seen and heard and smelled and fit it back into the culture they live in. Just ask the sibling of an adopted child or the daughter of a volunteer at the domestic abuse shelter or any other child who lives in a family who loves people.
Because that’s really what a missional family is–one that looks for others to love.
Love requires sacrifice and sacrifice produces compassion and compassion helps us see others sometimes before we see ourselves.
Here’s the simple truth that isn’t so simple: Raising kids to be different from the world really does make them different from the world. This is true whether you homeschool them or send your kids to public or private school.
Once you set your family on a missional path, they will stand out when all they want to do is blend in. Teachers and other parents will probably notice, but kids will immediately zero in on this. My children have been praised by other adults, and teachers, and even parents. But they have struggled with feeling left out and mentioned often that they feel weird.
They are warm, friendly kids and hardly social outcasts, but they do notice when they aren’t invited or included in invitations to activities or events. Being different is as hard now as it was when we were kids.
Every family has to deal with specific issues—but when you decide to push against a cultural norm, there will be people in your life and community, even your church, who will question you.
And you must know, there have been tense friction and terrible fights, tears and tantrums on this journey. We know we are asking our kids to do hard things. “Our uprising is against a cultural mind-set that twists the purpose and potential of the teen years and threatens to cripple our generation. Our uprising won’t be marked by mass riots and violence, but by millions of individual teens quietly choosing to turn the low expectations of our culture upside down,” –Do Hard Things.
If we expect our kids to give in, they might. But if we expect them to be different, to make hard choices, they might surprise us.
I think this is why giving our kids a world perspective is so important. It doesn’t make their day-to-day peer pressure less, but it reminds them that even though being different in our society can be challenging, it’s not usually life-threatening like it is in many places around the world. It’s not the kind of persecution that puts their lives at risk or places them in desperate situations where they have to make unthinkable decisions to survive.
The bottom line is this: All the right-from-wrong-teaching, character-building, faith-instilling, intentional parenting that you’ve made a priority in your home is producing children who do not fit into the mold our society has deemed normal. And it leaves us with children who sometimes feel left out, different, alienated, and even alone. But this doesn’t mean we’ve failed them. It’s through this kind of struggle that their own faith is forged and deepens and their relationship with us—bumpy days included—grows.
But mostly, it makes them aware of the costs of following Jesus.
And it also makes 14 year old boys sit in a salon in Africa and actually enjoy their first pedicure.