I was asked to consider the spiritual and emotional challenges children will face in 2021. I took a few days to think through the implications of the continuing Covid crisis, the political shift, and the overall future. All of which weighed heavy on my heart. Then I took a different approach. I began observing and listening to the children around me. I listened to them at church. I listened to my nephews at Thanksgiving. I listened to strangers talking to their children in the grocery store. I listened for what was being said. And I listened for what was not being said. I asked the Lord for wisdom to discern it all. I realized I was filtering the events of 2020 and the uncertainty of 2021 through my adult mind and emotions. When I began listening to the children around me, I remembered two truths that I know about children.
Truth #1. Children are sponges. They soak in a lot more information and emotion than we typically realize. By default they learn by example. A child absorbs a year’s worth of language before they ever produce a first word. Over the last several weeks, I have heard children talk about the “China virus” and how “the election was rigged”. I am confident that they were merely parroting someone else’s point of view. On the opposite side of the spectrum, I have seen children obediently wear masks without complaint and some who were oblivious an election even took place. In both circumstances, the children had absorbed what was being produced in their environment.
Truth #2. Children are resilient. 2020 upset the entire world’s apple cart. Everything changed rapidly. Perhaps the most intense change for children was their schooling. What began as an extended Spring Break turned into a revolutionary virtual learning experience. While it hasn’t been completely ideal, children adapted. Birthday parties became drive-thru parades. Disappointments stacked on top of disappointments. But, I still see those children smiling. I see them running and playing. They know that there is trouble in the world, but it doesn’t trouble their world.
Bad things have always happened in this world and they will continue to happen. Children have always been present for them. It is how we as the adults in their lives respond that will set the tone. Children are thermometers. They read the temperature around them. Adults are thermostats. We set the temperature. Without knowing what 2021 holds, we can’t determine the specifics of what a child will face. But since the Lord has been the same yesterday, today and forever, we have a hope for a bright future for the coming generations.