Have you ever noticed how a child can say the same word over and over until he gets what he wants? “Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom!” Finally you get him what he wants and he learned something. He learned that it takes 15 times of saying “Mom!” to get a cookie. Later, if you make him wait even longer, he will simply think that it took more Mom’s this time. He already knows that it will work eventually.
Parents tend to think of their kids as lacking patience. Actually, kids are very patient. They will do the same thing over and over just because it worked once. And, all the while, they are learning. Kids are the ultimate pragmatists. They will stop doing what doesn’t work, but they will make sure it doesn’t work first. Once the right formula enters their minds, they move to their next problem. If a certain action causes unpleasant discipline, the ultimate result is weighed and evaluated. I have seen children do things they knew would get them a swat just so they could get some attention after the discipline.
This is how we learn. I don’t think it was supposed to be quite like this. I think we were made to be in loving families where truth was spoken and beneficial behavior was modeled. I don’t think kids were ever supposed to have to manipulate their way to feelings of love and acceptance. I don’t think kids were ever supposed to have to figure out what works in life by themselves.
But this is what we have now. After sin entered the world and people became more concerned about themselves than others, parenting and childhood became something different from what it was designed to be. We all learned about love and acceptance from people whose focus made loving and accepting very difficult. They were too worried about getting their own love and acceptance to be concerned about us. So we started to manipulate. We learned, through trial and error, what things worked and what did not.
Of course, there are all kinds of problems with this. Our experience is so limited that we rarely discover the right way on our own. We learn what works, not what’s right. And what works one time, doesn’t necessarily work another time. Nor do we always understand the connections between the events in our lives. Life on our own doesn’t work the way life should.
And most of us never knew or understood that we had an enemy along the way. The evil one has infested the world around us with his brokenness and the lie permeates almost every part of life. Cause and effect is not the best way to learn truth.
So we learned the lie and we learned error. And, even today, when we are adults long out of childhood, we trust the foundational things we learned about ourselves. We believe the lying words we heard or the information we gathered. We paint ourselves with brushes twisted and produce a picture that is false. Then we wonder why things still don’t seem to work for us.
There is something better!