Today’s post is a Guest Post from Sarah at StandForMom and I *LOVE* this post on wanting more for our children. This is my heart song for my children – to have MORE, but not in the way you might think.
When I was 14, I crowded into a shiny white passenger van with twelve other teenagers. We crossed the Texas border, trailer following us loaded with building supplies. We pulled through rickety shanties, main roads where men patrolled with automatic rifles from the backs of modified pickup trucks, and old men sat on chairs under trees.
We landed in our destination: a colonia, a land of tiny squatter huts built from trash and leftover building supplies. It stretched for miles, and it was free to squatters because it was, actually, a landfill. Families lived here: men and women drifting in and out as they looked for work, grandmothers with broken teeth and withered faces caring for the smallest children. Sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, all crowded together in huts smaller and more squalid than most American storage sheds.
Babies learned to walk here, on top of the trash. Gangs of children kicked airless soccer balls, women cooked outside, rinsed dishes if there was water available. Outhouses were rare and prized.
When we left the rare, prized outhouses and corner grocery stores with candy and beans, rice, and Coca Cola, I remember how quiet the van became when we drove back through suburban cities again. Our eyes couldn’t miss the well kept lawns–the greenness of the grass. Who knew grass was a luxury?
Not just one car in each driveway, but two. Or three. Sometimes, more.
I knew back then, as our van bumped through the colonias, that I wanted more for myself, somehow. But it was a backwards kind of more that I wanted: I didn’t want more stuff. In fact, I wanted less. Less car. Less clothing. Less house. In the years that followed, when money was tight for a college student or a young single or a young married with young kids, all I’d have to do is picture an abuela cooking dinner over an open flame on a trash heap, sharing everything she had with me, and I’d remember–more doesn’t mean more.
It’s so natural now, as a parent, to want more, isn’t it? I walk down the toy aisle, and it doesn’t matter whether my kids beg or not–I can barely keep my itchy fingers from piling toys into my cart for them. Part of me, the part fueled by marketing ads and social media (which is essentially one large ad), the part that loves shiny things, longs for a larger house, nicer vacations, newer cars.
All it takes now is the memory of a little girl, in rags, playing in the dirt, happily, to bring me up short: that kind of more will suffocate my children. That kind of more will leave them with fat wallets and nicer stuff, but what will they have to hand off to their children? Will they be able to show their own children the callouses on their hands and hearts they’ve earned honestly–from learning joy, trialing out contentment, fighting for faith?
I must leave an inheritance for my children–and I’ll tell you plainly, I cannot give them what I do not have. I’m careful, now, when I pray for provision. I ask for abundance, but I’m content when it’s not there. I ask for my daily bread, and the revelation of heaven to know the abundance of our Father’s storehouses.
If I want to leave a legacy, a real, lasting legacy, it won’t come through more stuff: it will come through more wisdom. More sitting at the feet of Jesus. More picking up my cross and following him.
Frankly, I’m not interested in my children being smarter, or more moral, or even for them to avoid my mistakes. What I want is for their revelation of the extravagant love of God to be even deeper than mine. What I want is for them to have ever more of the things that don’t fade away than I do.
This changes everything, doesn’t? It changes what I work for–less striving for an earthly kingdom, more striving for a heavenly kingdom. Less striving for the things that go up in smoke, more striving for the face of God.
I want my children to experience more grace than I do.
I want them to serve more faithfully and have more joy than I do.
I want them to see more of God’s works, to have more of his Spirit, to see more of his glory.
I want them understand his word far better than I ever will.
I want them to hunger and thirst for righteousness more than I do.
I want them to love more than I do, and to be loved more.
I want them to have a greater revelation of the Father than I do.
I want them to imagine more than I do, and ask for more than I do.
I want them to pray more than I pray, to worship more than I worship, to submit more than I submit.
I think of families living on top of landfills, still, and I go after less and more all at the same time: less to snare us in chains, more so we can give it away. A backwards, upside down less is more for me, for my children, for the babies that haven’t even been born yet–the grandchildren, great grandchildren, and great great grandchildren. As it turns out, I do want more for my children.
Sarah is mom of three. She worked at home with her very small children for four years, and got so desperate for friends that she created Stand For Mom. You can join the community here; they’re probably still trying to figure out how to explain “work at home mom” to the people who ask.