Swings. Amusement parks. Family Christmas traditions. Camping trips. School musicals. Horse riding lessons. Airports. Bed time stories. Beach days. Bird watching. Snow fights. Slumber parties.
Do you ever think about your childhood? Reminisce about how easy life was back then – uncomplicated, wonder-filled, innocent? I am a sucker for living in the past, and often find myself comfortably taking a seat amongst childhood memories of joy, of adventure, of family and friends.
Sleeping on dad’s side of my parents’ bed when he was away on business trips. Selecting the perfect treat on “karkki päivä” (candy day). Selling mud figurines to neighbours. Helping mom put her socks on when she was pregnant. Doing New Year’s fireworks with dad in Finland.
Sometimes I mourn the passing of time, longing to once again be a child and simply trust my parents to make all the important decisions, oblivious to poverty, greed, and exploitation. Do you ever wish you were a kid again? Have you ever mourned how fast time flies? What is your favourite childhood memory?
Last week as I was pondering happy memories with a hint of sadness that those days are forever in the past, a thought came swirling in, like a tornado, rudely sending my daydreams into a frenzy.
I mourn that the carefree days of my childhood are gone, while others mourn that they never had a childhood at all.
“The ‘luv-life’…will stay in my mind as a perfect description of those who seem untouched by life’s horrors and tragedies, for whom childhood memories conjure up joy and innocence, for whom the thought of family evokes comfort and safety and for whom the word love remains undistorted and untained by disappointment, by violence, by fear.”
The privilege and blessing of a healthy family, quality education, and food on the table in a way separates me from those who never had those things. And it almost makes me feel guilty of having those gifts, even though I had nothing to do with it.
I did not realize as a child that not everyone had parents like I did. That there were kids my age who were being abused at home. Or went to school hungry. Or were being raped in seedy brothels. Or bounced around from foster home to foster home. Or were caught in the middle of a messy divorce. I have written about these feelings before. And yet this sense of undeserved privilege still chases me, pouncing on me when I least expect it, leaving me with an odd mix of sheer gratefulness and paralysing guilt.
What I have to remember is this: I did not choose where I was born or to whom I was born. I did not choose how I was raised, or educated, or the vacations I got to go on. I did not choose my class, my nationality, or my family lineage. Therefore, I must not be ashamed of these blessings, but simply receive them as a gift, an undeserved grace, something to celebrate.
However being grateful for these things is not enough. I was given them for a reason. At some point it must translate into action – an overflowing of grace that will provide others with refreshment and hope. Though some may judge me for having so much blessing throughout the course of my 26 years, and though I may struggle relating to those who have had lives of pure struggle and pain, I hope that the actions of my life speak in such a way that unquestionably demonstrate my compassion and my commitment to steward my gifts well.
I am grateful for people like Rachel Lloyd who, despite their own painful experiences of abuse and exploitation, choose to reach out to those who desperately need some real love.