Moreover, we should accept the messiness of life that comes in our children, the playful exuberance that frequently shatters the day as they play various games with each other. We can follow the Victorian model of children that are seen but not heard, but this is foolishness, too. Children are not museum pieces that adorn our lives to be trotted out for display whenever we have the urge, then quickly put back away. They are real human beings that need fun and enjoyment and deserve our attention, affections, and teaching, which must be done, as the Bible says, “diligently” whenever we have opportunity for life lessons throughout the everyday activities. And what good is a silent house that doesn’t resound with the joyous music of life, children’s laughter. A silent house is a sign that things are “under control.” The silence is a harbinger of death, a sign that we have murdered our children’s spirits with constant scolding about their normal play or constant demands to live within an exacting, legalistic framework of rules, or that we have successfully taught them the lesson that they do not matter to us by not wanting to hear them nor have them intrude into our lives of self-indulgence.
Who cares if a few things get broken from time to time. In those moments, we have the opportunity to teach our children that we all make mistakes and that it is okay to make mistakes. We can also teach them that people always matter more than things. Remember that we own those things. They do not own us, putting abnormal parameters on our lives as we fear losing one of these things and the subsequent unraveling of our world view built misguidedly on material things.
I am not advocating a house where there is no order or discipline or boundaries. As good stewards, we should exercise normal care and maintenance for the material things that God has given us. Also, safety is a paramount concern with children, and it is our responsibility to protect them from themselves since we have greater experience and wisdom. I am merely saying that it is okay for life to erupt into unplanned mistakes or mirthful craziness from time to time. Life is meant to be enjoyed, not just endured. When our children are playing those raucous games with each other, they are establishing relationships for the rest of their lives. You cannot force these things, and you cannot go back in time to teach them when the moment of teaching is past.
We should not fear making mistakes in these things ourselves. It is okay for us to make mistakes even in the great, important things of life. Character and relationships can be built in those moments if we remember two very useful phrases. “I’m sorry” and “I was wrong.” Never be afraid to speak these words, especially to your children. You do not diminish yourself by speaking them. Instead, you make yourself much bigger in the eyes of the listener. You show that there are principles bigger than you, and that you honor the God behind those principles. Moreover, you show that you are big enough to admit your own mistakes and frailties, and you show that your world is big enough to allow others into it.
Never fall for the foolish thinking that you can ever protect yourself from the messiness of life. People want to think this way because they love control. But control in life is often, if not always, an illusion. The people that tried to build the tower of Babel thought they could have such control, building beyond the reach of God’s judgment. You can never put yourself beyond the danger of life, nor should you try. It is okay to plan for the rainy day, but it is not okay to seek to be beyond need of God’s help. If you ever reach that point, you will not have the peace that you think you will. You will always be worried about losing that position. It is much better to live in dependence on the God who will never fail.