He looks at me with such confidence in his eyes and says, “But mom, I googled it yesterday, read a couple of web pages about it, and now I know all about body language. Therefore, the way you’re sitting says that you’re relaxed and at peace.” I internally shake my head, knowing that I am anything but at peace – knowing that things just aren’t that simple.
If this were a rare occurance in our home, it wouldn’t be anything to write about. However, I have got a very inquisitive kid with a lot of ambition and skill with the Google search engine, who, once he gets enough information to scratch his itch, is dangerous with that info. Not because he is malicious and would hurt anyone or anything, but because then he is an “expert” on topics of which he has only begun to scratch the surface.
I wonder if that is what the internet is doing for a part of this generation. I have often thought of how I am raising one of the first generations to be brought up completely with the internet at their access. One of the first generations to be able to have access to endless information, endless music choices, endless media and entertainment. When one of my children was 13 and was trying to make the point of why she needed a cell phone at her age, she said, “Well, how old were YOU when you got your first cell phone?” Uh…try in my 30s, sweetie. I wasn’t raised with that kind of ready-access to technology.
In my 20s, I thought I knew myself. Why would’t I? I had lived in my skin, lived my experiences, and reacted with as much honesty as I was capable of. I didn’t know anything about personality types, learning styles, love languages, giftings, worldview, theology, home of origin and family dynamics…but I knew myself. I was ready to take my college degree, my new wonderful husband, and my myriad of skills, and take on the world.
In reality, I had learned a lot about who I was within my family structure, I’d learned a lot about how to project who I wanted people to believe that I was (without fully investing what was necessary to find out what I really thought and desired), and I knew about some of my dreams and goals. Because I was content with what I had built around myself, and because it scratched my itch, I shut the door on self-exploration. Self-exploration was scary. What if I unearthed some anger or resentment, what if at the core of myself I really didn’t know God like I thought I did, what if I was a phlegmatic because that was the way to stay out of the spotlight?
Also in my 20s, I thought I knew God. I was introduced to Christ as a young child and had eagerly accepted His message. As I got older and matured in my faith, I read a couple of books, heard a couple of sermons, developed my theology, and shut the door. It made the unknown so much more safe if I had God figured out. If I knew how He would react in each circumstance, then I could confidently step out in “faith” and take risks. My itch on Him was scratched. I knew I had a God who said that He loved me, and I knew that my faith would get me to heaven when it was my time.
I believe that now, in my 40s, I am just beginning to fully understand the details of who I am, and I have completely revamped who I believe God to be, mostly coming to the conclusion that He is a lot bigger than I’ll ever fully understand. I am comfortable with that. I would get bored with a God that I could fully grasp, and I would get bored (and be boring) if I really had been who I thought I was in my 20s. Life is a journey to be lived, and not a goal to be attained.
Now I’ve just got to convince my child, in a loving and supportive way, that my body language is complex, sometimes deceptive, and certainly not to be analyzed by an amateur. And that there are many, many things that we need to keep exploring before we shut the door and claim that we are experts. Otherwise, we might miss the opportunity to get to know who we truly are, or what a great and awesome and complex God He is.