Column: Building the future

Whenever I’m home over a break from college and sitting on the couch eating free food and watching free TV, I have the thought: “Why do I go to college?”

Being at home without homework and other school-related responsibilities takes me back to when I was a carefree kid. What kind of person would give up that kind of luxury to become an impoverished, sleep-deprived college student? Of course, once I’m back at BJU, learning and hanging out with friends, I remember school has a lot of perks, too. But there’s still a part of me that can’t quite get over how insanely good childhood is, and I can barely begin to appreciate all that my parents did for me.

For instance, I think about how much work taking care of baby me required. Do you ever think about how helpless you were as a baby? You couldn’t walk, talk or even hold your head up by yourself. Your contribution to the world was slim to none. Imagine if you bought a puppy that was that helpless. And you weren’t nearly as cute as a puppy, and you cried all the time.

It’s incredible to think about how much parents do for their children.

Over Christmas break, I was sitting on the couch with my family, going through family photo albums—what Christmas break would be complete without getting out baby pictures? Flipping through the pages, I saw instance after instance of things being done for me that I had done nothing to earn. A birthday party: here’s a cake and presents for doing nothing! Or here are pictures from a trip to an amusement park in the scorching heat of summer with horrible crowds and overpriced food. Has any parent ever actually wanted to take a trip like that? No sane adult wants to sit in a car or on an airplane for hours on end with misbehaving kids.

My parents did all those things and more for me because that’s what you do as a parent: you devote your whole life to creating an entire world for your children to grow up in.

Talking about the importance of motherhood, G.K. Chesterton wrote, “How can it be a large career to tell other people about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone and narrow to be everything to someone? No, a woman’s function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute.”

He’s making the point of how valuable motherhood is and questioning why people would diminish the role of a stay-at-home mom. Mothers get to build a universe for their children. Parents get to be everything to their kids.

I think that’s the main difference between childhood and adulthood. When you’re younger, you live in a world created by the adults around you. In a loving home, you’re surrounded by people who sacrifice to build a stimulating, loving and safe world for you. But when you’re an adult, you become the architect, building the world for other people, whether you’re “everything to someone,” as Chesterton said, making a home for your children, or working a job “being the same to everyone.” Either way, as an adult you have the tremendous responsibility of making an inhabitable world for the people around you.

It’s a terrifying prospect. I can barely assemble a piece of IKEA furniture, much less be the designer of someone else’s world.

But my parents didn’t have to do it alone, and neither do I. By the grace of God and with His power working through me, I can follow my parents’ example and help to build a better world for those who come after me. Then maybe one day it’ll be me sitting on the couch with my kids looking through photos of the world we built together.