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The First Five Years and the Making of a Life

I knit you 2Good or bad, the first five years are just the beginning of life.

It’s never seemed fair to me that those first few months and years of a person’s life are so crucial to development. Why is that? If you’re someone’s first kid, then your parents are basically just practicing on you. It’s not until child 3 or 4 that they’ve figured stuff out. By then your fate is set.

Does anyone else see a problem with this?

Sure, a small number of people grow up under ideal circumstances, but that number is few, and even those people would have to admit that some mistakes were made in their upbringing. Imperfect parents produce imperfect children, and an endless cycle of people locked into a repetitive lifestyle of dysfunction multiplies exponentially as the world increases in number. That’s depressing.

That’s not the end, I know.

From these less than stellar childhoods, people grow into adults who learn to compensate, adjust, and even overcome their deficits. That’s why we have counselors and psychologists and tons of self-help books, so we can be rewired. We can develop learning skills and coping mechanisms. We can grow beyond those early years of missed opportunities and insufficient nurturing.

But is it enough?

In the sci-fi novel, Through the Balustrade, children are raised in “Raising Homes” where all of those deficits are addressed and rectified in order to produce people who have full command of their potential. Childhoods are calculated. Nannies do the nurturing and there are no parents to muck up the young minds of the newest contributors to society. Still something is missing. The people inside the Balustrade lose themselves in conformity. Their individuality is tempered. Their dissension is labeled intolerance, and their own thoughts are sacrificed for that of the greater good. They live in a prison of the mind and have no clue what real freedom is.

That’s the danger in our lives too. We can overcome obstacles, grow stronger, and “discover” ourselves, and still miss the entire point of it all. Society will always direct us to focus on the here and now—on what can be seen and studied and understood. Scientists say the first five years are crucial to our development, but they are only thinking in terms of life in the here and now. What if they were to think in terms of eternity?

I knit you together 2Perhaps an entire life lived out in the imperfections here is merely just a stage in our development.

What if all of it can be woven together to not merely guide us to become the people we’re meant to be, but to see God, to see the truth, and to believe in life beyond this world?

I’ve seen lives changed by God in the here and now, and I’ve also listened to people who believe this is all there is. One has a hope and a future, and the other has nothing. One walks forward on the foundation of thousands who’ve gone before him and believed, and the other looks backward and blames – forever stuck in his little world of hours and minutes and failures and loss.

God speaks to both. He is the perfect parent, and if we allow him, he will take these formative years and make us ready for eternity. His love breaks down walls of dysfunction and guides us to avenues of freedom. He has traversed height and depth to bridge the gap created by our own imperfections so that we can shed our old selves and be made new.

Perhaps it’s time to stop living only for this world and start living for the God who made it.

Life is but a thin line2