Sabrina and I have the privilege of having our two granddaughters Sarah and Abby stay with us for most of the summer. They are full of life and energy and that energy is many times released through their squeals at maximum volume. Both are constantly engaged in something from the time they rise in the morning until they crash in their beds at night. It is all that Sabrina and I can do to keep our eyes open until theirs are closed. We both feel like wrung out wash cloths by the end of the day. Yet, we bask in the joy these two bring to our lives and try to savor each moment.
Having our “grandgirls” with us this summer has engendered great thought and contemplation on my behalf, and I have come to the realization that times have changed since I was a boy. I know that may come as a shock to many of you, but as shocking as that may be, the fact is, this is not the land of “Leave It To Beaver, Father Knows Best and Ozzie and Harriet.” What, you might ask, brought me to this world shattering opinion? Well, it was a very simple matter. In fact it is one that is found at the bottom of your legs, right there at the end of your feet. Yes, toes. Stubbed toes to be exact.
I have come to realize, today there are very few stubbed toes on the children of our community. The kind of stubbed toes where a good portion of skin and subdermal are peeled back or completely absent because of the barefoot bliss they have enjoyed. It was not a good summer vacation unless there were at least two major “stub’s” during those months. Those badges of unrestrained summer time fun are seldom worn by the ruddy-faced youth of today. In fact, I can’t tell you the last time I saw a young child with a stubbed toe.
I believe that one of the reasons for the curious disappearance of stubbed toes is that we are a more affluent society than we were in my childhood. Many today think that if a child is seen playing barefoot, there is some sort of parental deficiency involved. I would not doubt that somewhere laws have been enforced to protect our children’s “little piggies” and to punish such negligent parents. Also, today’s children are more occupied by their computer, video games and television than the children of several decades past. Indoor recreations have replaced the outdoor romps of former days. These pastimes in and of themselves are not the problem; it is just that the imagination is used in many of them is the imagination of the programmers, writers and producers, and not that of the children. His or her playtime is merely the extension of someone else’s enhanced, and might I say “adult” idea of what is fun.
I know we cannot go back to the societal atmosphere of years past but so many of our children are missing out on having developed their own personal experiences of playing outside of the mind and frequently skewed perspective of some adults that have no connection to them at all. They just don’t get to create the experience for themselves. It comes in a box or through a transmitter and not from within. Children need to have their own personal experiences in developing the joys and happinesses of life. I am not saying that children today have no personal imaginative experiences, but I am saying that much of what we might call an active imagination is in reality the creation of some guy sitting at a console in the Silicon Valley of California.
We need more stubbed toes. We need to experience things for ourselves and not rely on another’s experience. The vicarious encounters of another will never satisfy our own personal needs. When it comes to a relationship with God the same applies. We need to experience it ourselves and not depend on another’s perspective. We need to have our own stubbed toes in life. Not only can we look to them as badges of our life’s experiences, but they can be poignant reminders that we were there and it is more than just an active imagination.
Take your shoes off and have a run through life. Remove that which protects you from experiencing life, and keeps you from direct contact with your Maker. You may stub your toe, but I promise the experience will be your own and not someone else’s.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tim Patterson is Executive Director/Treasurer of the Baptist State Convention of Michigan. Elected unanimously in May of 2015, Patterson formerly served for 9 years as pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla. He also served as trustee chair and national mobilizer for the North American Mission Board.