Sunday, June 10, 2012

Longing to Be Free

A brief sidetrack on graduation . . .
Around graduation time each year, I tend to think of Brutus. That's him to the left. (Sorry for the quality-- the picture is quite old.)

Brutus was my family's German Shepherd when I was growing up. He was loyal. He protected us kids and our home. He loved all of us, especially my dad.  He liked kibbles and canned dog food . . . together. He didn't care much for fetching tennis balls or frisbees. You didn't mess with Brutus. 

Longing to Be Free
For all of his wonderful qualities, Brutus had one fatal flaw that could have been his undoing. You see, as much as he loved all of us, Brutus longed to be free. You didn't dare leave the gate to the backyard even slightly open because Brutus would be gone in a black and white streak. I don't remember how many times my brother, sister, and I had to chase him down the street, screaming like maniacs with the neighbors thinking we were all crazy, and then haul him back by the collar, depositing him in the backyard where he resumed his watchful post by the back gate, waiting for someone to leave it open again.

Waiting at the Gate
Spend enough time around the campus of a K-8 school, especially in June, and you'll know why I'm reminded of Brutus. In particular, our eighth graders have been proverbially "sitting at the gate," waiting for their chance at freedom. 

None of us blame them. They're simply the most recent group of awesome young people to travel the ups and downs of nine years together. After so many years sheltered within the walls of our school, they are longing to see what else is out there. Like Brutus, they couldn't wait for someone to open the gate, so strong is their desire to explore the larger world of high school and beyond. To them, so much of what they think they want is outside that gate: freedom, freedom from rules, freedom from a dress code, freedom from conduct points, freedom from . . .

I wish them all the best, and I'm going to miss them. (C/O 2012-- you know it!) But, the time for rules and restrictions hasn't ended simply because high school is beginning.

The Importance of a "Gate"
As horrible and restrictive as our graduates always think the "gate" was for so many years, consider what it provides. The "gate" that is responsible behavior rules, a dress code, morality, the Ten Commandments, the teachings of Jesus Christ, has provided safety. It has provided order and structure. It has struggled to keep negative influences at bay, while placing the kids' focus on "whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious" (Phil. 4:8). 

The gate to our backyard kept Brutus safe. The "gate" at our school did the same for our students.

Dear Parents-- 
Whether you have a graduate or not, your children need two things from you: 
  1. A gate- rules, restrictions, boundaries, a moral code, a faithful example.
  2. To know that you'll chase them down when they bolt outside of that gate, screaming their name, not caring if anyone thinks you're a crazy maniac, because you love them more than anyone else possibly could. And, because you could care less if the rest of the world thinks you're crazy-- YOU know what is best for the child God has entrusted to you.
To the families of our graduates-- you have my prayers for continued blessings and strength as each day of your future arrives with the bright promise of God's love and kindness, despite difficulties and trials. Remain strong for your children!  God Bless You!

Class of 2012- We Love You!

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