Sunday, January 29, 2006

Failure

I think it was on Kelly's blog (or maybe just from Kelly herself) that I first heard the principal of Christian parents needing to assume that God had given children to them for the purpose of instruction not just in the knowledge of God (which is of course the most important thing), but also assuming that whatever the parents' expertise and skill was in, so should the children be taught. This is a Biblically supportable notion, and I have failed at it.

My father was a sculptor and a writer, and I grew up doing art and writing, in spite of the fact that I always wished I could do mathematics and physics; music, too. It's not that I was ever forced to do art or to write, though my parents were encouraging. It's that that's just what I did-- it was all I could do. Every time I tried to do something else, I failed because I could not stay at it. I was so bad at those other things that it seemed a total waste of time, and I had the sense that these were not what I was "supposed" to do. Oh, how I wanted to do them! I wanted to be a discoverer of astronomical mysteries, and the mathematical perfections. I wanted to play the harp, the violin, the flute, and to sing...but I could not read musical notes and could not remember mathematical rules to save my life. I would go to my room and write in my journal, and I would draw birds and plants and stare at the colors of the light outside. I walked in the fields, studied things there, and just looked.

But I hung out with scientists, and I married one. When my oldest came along, it was clear that he was smart. He read early with understanding and inflection, and he had (still has, not always for the good) the ability to shut out the world while creating his own world. He took whatever was nearby (sand, paper, Legos if he could get them) and shut everything out. Today it is the computer, and we have been reminding him for at least 12 years now not to get obsessed by these things. It's like trying to hold on to a helium-filled balloon. His mind is always somewhere else. I thought for sure (because he was so smart, inventive and creative) that he'd be an engineer, like his grandfather. How has it turned out? He is doing graphic design.

(Anything but that!)

My daughter, who has always wanted to be a writer and has the ability to compose poetry (and spell and punctuate perfectly), has been raved over by her art teachers in high school. Two of her works have gone on to a national level contest, in which she might win a $10,000 scholarship. Never in my life did I ever dream that she would produce art, and I never encouraged either one of my kids to pursue art. Indeed, I discouraged it as having no future, and much of the time, what with the decayed art culture we have today, it hasn't....what it ends up being is the road to hell. In any case, at least she still mainly wants to be a writer, but now the trick is to keep her from idiots who teach writing in colleges. I hope we've helped her discern idiocy wisely.

If God wanted me to train up Christian artists, then I have failed to teach them much of anything. If I should have been teaching them how to do art, then I would have had to embrace art, something I've never wholly done, in spite of myself. To do art is to imitate God, and the idea of imitating God's Creation is almost laughable if not blasphemous. To me, most art is poor, and good art is so unbelievably rare as to make the learning of it as difficult as finding a Mozart to teach one keyboarding skill. I can't do it.

So this is a lament. I have learned too late not to despise what God put in me. What I do now-- scientific art-- is in service as a teaching tool, yet I hope that in some way it might just show forth the glory of God. And may God grant that both my children, in spite of their mother, may do just that in their own art, whether writing or drawing, and be instructed by God in the doing. Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner. I was stupid, I regret it, and it is too late to know what to do.

1 Comments:

Blogger Aunt Cin said...

I suspect you've taught more than you know, but I understand what you're saying. What my mother taught us best is how to cook and to be a mom. She was very creative without knowing it. Our father was analytical, I always thought, but there was also his ability to design and build homes...he'd laid aside his dreams to support his parents and siblings as a young man.

And Jason's creative, too. We did, by the skin of our teeth, instruct him in the way he should go when he had designs on being an engineer. His inability to concentrate and his poor math skills made that extremely unlikely, and it was obvious that he had artistic skills, so we urged him in that direction. I'd read a book about just this thing that in most other respects was garbage, but the "train up your child" instruction was excllent. We took heed, although Jason was at least 12 or 13 at the time.

Anyway - you are still of great value in nudging them in the right direction, no matter that you could have done so earlier. Repent of this guilt! :)

Hugs!

me<><

5:35 PM  

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