Thursday, August 05, 2010

What We Don't Know


Every once in awhile I simply have to watch an old movie; awhile back I chose the 1948 classic I Remember Mama. Throughout the story, told through the eyes of a teenage girl named Katrin, a Norwegian family experiences the ups and downs of life in early-1900s San Francisco, held together by the strength and resourcefulness of Mama. Mama is a hard worker who adores her children and wants to give them a promising life. Katrin and her siblings grow up knowing that Mama has a bank account, set aside for emergencies. Strangely, whenever an emergency comes up—such as when the little sister needs an operation—Mama always finds some other way to cover the expense (usually by getting a job temporarily or sacrificing something dear to her). Katrin eventually learns the truth: there is no bank account. Mama confesses that she made it up so her children would always feel secure. She didn’t want them to fear going hungry or not having what they needed.

Mama’s desire to protect her sons’ and daughters’ hearts touched me deeply, even if she did technically lie to them. It makes me think of my parents, who raised two visually impaired girls (including me) but never had vision insurance. I had no clue that Mom and Dad paid for all of our glasses and vision aids out of pocket, or that Grandma and Grandpa paid for them occasionally. We always had what we needed, never fearing that new glasses might mean less groceries or clothes. Like Mama, they didn’t want us to worry, or feel bad about needing expensive prescriptions.

Now my desire is that I will know when to follow their example and protect my kids from information that might cause them fear or unnecessary stress. Of course I won’t lie to them. But, as I clearly did not need to know about Dad’s lack of coverage for glasses when I was twelve years old, my boys don’t need to know how hard I pray that enough funds will come in to cover the mortgage and homeowner’s insurance in time when we also have back-to-school expenses looming.

So, why am I telling you this when you clearly aren’t parents? My hope is that you will consider what your mom and dad hold back and why. When have you discovered that they protected you from a truth that would have been too big for you to handle at the time? How have your parents helped you feel secure by NOT letting you in on everything right away? On the other hand, when have you benefitted from their tough-but-true honesty (such as, “I’m sorry, we can’t afford to send you to that college.”)?

Thank God for times when He provided security by keeping you sheltered from what you didn’t need to know, and for knowing when you were strong enough to handle the truth.

1 comment:

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