Over the last year-and-a-half we have greatly enjoyed the larger lot we've been living on, but it has meant a lot more yard work than we used to have. At this time of year, it has meant raking leaves and moving them to our giant mulch pile. We also have a lot of pine needles, so we decided to use them to mulch around all the trees in our front yard.
Becca and I were working on this project the other day, when a red mini-van pulled over, and the lady driving rolled down the window and said that she really appreciated seeing children helping their parents. She said it made her so happy! I wasn't quite sure what to say to this, but I got out "thank you" and then she drove off.
There were two aspects of this which caught my attention. The first was simply the fact that we can never know when what we are doing may be observed and noted by the people around us. Even when we're going about our regular yard work, barely aware that there are any cars driving by at all, people can notice what we are doing.
I've also been thinking about why the mere fact of young people doing yard work would be notable enough to this woman for her to pull over and say something.
Unfortunately, many young people today are not expected to contribute to the family unit. They are expected to live off of the work that their parents do without making any return whatsoever-- or if they do make a return, it is only the bare minimum that their parents manage to force out of them.
But what about those parents who force some effort out of their children? What is the difference between those families and ours?
It's certainly not that we are just better people. We have just as much potential for laziness and the selfish pursuit of our own desires as anyone else does. By God's grace, though, there have been at least two factors at work in our family that have given us a very different dynamic than what some families experience.
The first is the culture of honor and respect which Mama and Papa have sought to instill in our home. We have all learned from a very young age that we are to obey and honor our parents-- and that obeying an instruction halfway or with a bad attitude is not true obedience. We have been taught this not because Mama and Papa think they are superior, or because they just want to be in control, but because they recognize that this is the way that God's Word commands that children are to be instructed, and that teaching their children to honor and obey them is simply a practical means of teaching them to honor and obey their Heavenly Father.
The second reason is the high value we have learned to place on the family. We have grown up working together, playing together, and worshiping together. We have learned by experience that we are able to accomplish more and gain greater satisfaction from the accomplishment when we are supporting each other and contributing to the overall goal. It is an outworking of the love that we have for each other-- a love that is not just mushy feelings, but rather a desire for each others' good that leads to action on each others' behalf.
Sadly, in today's culture, that has become rare enough to warrant pulling over the car.