There are some phrases that I’ve used over and over all the while not really knowing what they meant. I’ve gone through over 40 Christmas seasons and only this year, while leading about 30 5-8 year olds in caroling did I ask the question, “What does ‘in ex shell cheese day oh” mean?” Okay, I knew it was latin and spelled differently but I just wasn’t sure. One of the adults googled it for me and you should too.
There is a phrase that I’ve never had a doubt what it means, “Don’t tread on me.” It is on the license plates in Virginia and it’s origin goes way back. General Gadsden used it to motivate his troops during the American Revolution. The idea is pretty clear, mess with my freedom and you’ll regret it.
Taking away freedom is one of the touchiest things we can do. As I write this, it jumped out at me that I’m really protective of my freedom but I don’t give a second thought about taking away the freedom of my kids. I know their chances of reaching adulthood safely require me to take freedoms but I shouldn’t be surprised when it bothers them.
I’ve been reading Ask It: The Question That Will Revolutionize How You Make Decisions by Andy Stanley in which he gives a seemingly basic model for making wise decisions. The question is, “What is the wise thing to do?” And then give three specific areas to focus on.
- Given my history (is this the wise thing to do?)
- Given my present circumstances (is this the wise thing to do?)
- Given my future hopes and dreams (is this the wise thing to do?)
It’s a good book and I it helped me. I wish I had read it as a teen and encourage parents to read and share the book with their kids.
I won’t even try to capture the book in this short post, however I’d like to focus on question #1.
What Andy teaches is that our history reduces our options. There are options which seem really good because they are morally fine, scripturally fine, and would be perfectly good decisions except one problem, our personal history. My history makes this particular decision unwise.
Think for a minute and if you are like me you know areas where you’ve made mistakes over and over. These don’t have to be huge moral or addiction related either. Given my history, I can’t use the snooze button. I’ve tried and every time, I end up sleeping too long and miss opportunities. I also can’t listen to Talk Radio. I’ve learned that if I listen for too much time that I end up becoming an angry jerk. This is how it affects me. I don’t think everyone else responds that way. I know that I’m better off, given my history, not listening.
Why I’m sharing this is that we are wired with a “Don’t Tread On Me” mentality when our freedom is reduced. Just like kids, we say “oh yeah” and do the very thing we shouldn’t do just to prove a point.
The wise thing to do is to accept that we all have histories and if we are open to learning, that we need to limit our personal freedom based on our history. It keeps us from falling into the ditch!
It kind of sounds easy but it isn’t. How do we do the following two things?
- Learn this ourselves. We can’t teach our kids to do something we can’t do ourselves.
- Teach our kids so that they can learn to limit their own freedom based on learning from their history.