All that "gray area" - It's wrong.
I believe in right and wrong. I believe that there is good and that there is evil. And I even believe that evil dominates. I believe that we are innately "bad" from the day we are born. We are, from birth, born to rebel against good.
Those are absolutes.
I believe in absolutes.
I believe in the saving grace of a sinless Savior who came and died on the cross by accepting a punishment so severe and gut-wrenching it caused him to sweat blood from the anxiety...all so that we, each and every one of us, would not have to experience the same wrath from God that we so very much deserve.
I believe that, as parents, we are duty-bound to teach our children by first setting a proper example by living the way we want them to live and secondly by disciplining them. Even when it's hard. Especially when it's hardest.
I believe that punishing our children for wrong-doing is not just appropriate, but necessary. Consequences aren't always sunshine and roses.
I believe that by exclusively praising our children and ignoring their bad behavior we are creating monsters - self-centered, self-righteous monsters who have no reason to believe that the earth revolves around anyone but them because that's what they've been made to think their entire lives. We don't need to tear them down, but it's also not productive to only build them up.
I believe that the only way to raise children who will grow up to be selfless is to remind them that they are a very small part of a whole. And then to remind them that they are loved, so very loved - by their parents and their Heavenly Father, in spite of the fact that they are but one tiny part of a humongous whole. Because, no matter what tiny part they play, it's a vital one. We are all a part of the body of Christ - maybe he's a leg and she's a hand and that guy is one of the ears and you're the brain. Separately they're worth almost nothing but together - man, they can move mountains.
I believe that manners should be taught first by example and secondly, if necessary, by force. What is important is that they are taught. Manners are not a dying art. They are a disregarded courtesy. Courtesies in general have died because we have shifted from a culture of respect to a culture of self.
I believe that even though it seems like the nice guys finish last, some day, they will be rewarded - even if it's not on this earth. But then that reward will be more than imaginable and more than worth it. The hard part is teaching our kids to do the right thing when there is no visible reward and the wrongdoers are the ones who seem to be getting ahead.
I believe that by giving our children everything they want we are depriving them of the lesson that you have to work for what you need. Self-control is a fruit of the spirit and to exercise it is to exemplify Christ - whether with finances, speech, remaining faithful to our partner, our ability to quell an angry reaction...whatever.
I believe that every mistake we make is a learning opportunity. But first we have to be allowed to make them. If the mistake affects someone else besides ourselves, we have an extra opportunity to learn - because we get to humble ourselves, admit fault, and ask for forgiveness. You know...do the right thing.
I believe that waiting in lines is one of the few opportunities in our instantaneous world that we have anymore to learn and practice patience. The people in front of us in line aren't for trampling on or passing. They are to be waited for. And at the very least, when we witness people trampling on others in front of them - that is yet another teaching moment for our kids. As in, "Never do that."
I believe that our children need guidance from strong parents who are willing to take a stand against gray areas, "It is what it is" post-modern thinking, and self-centeredness. There is hope. Our future depends on it.
This has been a soapbox post. I would ordinarily apologize, but today, I just don't want to.
I plead with you - just try to put other people first. We're all selfish. But we should at least try not to be.
And while we're at it, let's try to use our common sense too.
Have a blessed weekend, guys.