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The Age of Innocence

April 20, 2017

No, not a title of a book or movie (well, maybe, but not how I’m using the term), the Age of Innocence is that creeping moment when a person becomes truly accountable for their own actions. In a faith-based household, it’s when a child becomes responsible for being a sinner. In a non-faith home, it’s when kids become accountable to the law, or morally responsible (“you should know better!”).

I think it’s more than that.  First, it isn’t an age, but a dawning awareness, much of if subconscious, that we really are sinners (or non-perfect). It doesn’t manifest this way, though, because, like Adam and Eve, we want to hide our sin and our awareness of sin (or imperfection). I don’t think the word “sin” is used in their heads, it’s more of an emotional awareness, and it’s expressed in a fearful thought, quickly buried:

“I am unlovable.”

This will never be expressed by a child. Such fears are unvoiced, but it manifests in anger, arrogance, and deception. In acting out. It’s a childish test. “If I’m bad and you don’t kill me, maybe I am lovable), but such behavior actually only confirms it to their little hearts.

In grace-filled homes that confront this, the kids might not struggle with this as much (but everyone does, because (gasp!) it’s true.)

In legalistic homes, or strict homes, or permissive homes, the struggles will be, as someone-who-shall-not-be-named, “’UGE!”

I believe this fear is responsible for a whole lot of stuff, if not everything, in a teenager’s life. What we do with our bodies, who we give it to, the bad, bad choices we make in significant others, it’s a long list.

Touching the third-rail, I think this is largely responsible for LGBTQRSTW stuff.

It’s why a kid will “fall in love” with a jerk, not because of who that person is but because “that person loves me!” It’s why a kid will go psycho when their first xfriend breaks up with them, because “oh my gosh, if that person doesn’t love me, NO ONE WILL!”

You think the idea that “I’m unlovable” is a lie on its face. But it’s worse than that. It’s the truth.

But it’s also not.

I am firmly convinced that if anyone was telepathic and could read other people’s minds, they would go insane. Our minds, hearts and thoughts are snake-pits. Anyone who truly knew us would HATE us.

Almost anyone.

God doesn’t.

I’ve argued with Him about this. “But God, I’m horrible!”

“Yes you are, but I covered it for you. Cross, resurrection, faith. I don’t see those horrible things any more. I love you.”

“But they’re still there!”

“No they’re not.”

“Pretty sure they are.”

“Try letting go.”

“Can’t do it, I’m still a mess.”

“But you won’t be. So relax. I love you, believe me.”

You should believe Him, too.

Our pastor last Sunday quoted a nut who said, among other things, “We must reinterpret our understanding of the Bible.”  She meant we shouldn’t actually believe in God anymore, but I think it’s wise advice in that my understanding was simple (Sunday school level), and that without disregarding the truth, I must reinterpret from an adult level, with more complex understanding.

This post is an example of that.

I don’t understand how anything other than belief in Christ fixes this “I’m unlovable” problem. Because it’s true, it must be dealt with. There is no other way to deal with it than with Jesus.

My dear, beloved, sainted mother did her best to let me know I was lovable. She told me so, she praised me, she was so amazingly positive. But inside I knew the truth, and that what she said wasn’t true. We went to church a little bit when I was a kid, my mom had faith, but I never heard/understood the Gospel. She didn’t say, “yes, you have a sin problem, but I love you any way.” I never knew that other people had sin problems (or in my head, :I’m a monster, You’re not!”).

At church, I teach a class of young kids. Many of them haven’t ended or even started to end the age of innocence (innocence = I am lovable).  Some are starting. They are getting that the Gospel is more than just a “sure, OK” thing, but a “wait, does this mean something to me?” thing. It’s wonderful to be their teacher at that age.

The plaintive cry of any sinner (meaning anyone) is, “Somebody, please, LOVE ME!”

But do we know what love is? Love is total knowledge of someone and accepting them anyway. I love my wife. I love my kids, my sisters, my niece and nephews, but I I don’t fully know them. I can’t read the transcript of their thoughts, and believe me, they don’t want me to. Because they know. To know me is to not love me.

So imagine. The only being who fully knows you is God. And he gave his life for you so that you might be… lovable. Both being worthy of it and being able to give it.

Oh my.

I am lovable!

My next post will be looking at “judging” in light of this. Feel free to pant with anticipation.

 

 

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