The recent Royal Wedding captured so many of us around the world; the “true fairytale” in so many ways. Much of the world stopped...I watched it on a laptop during my lunchbreak at a conference. The castles, the carriage, the dress, the tiara … it was all beautiful and brought joy to so many people, of course much more to Megan and Harry. In Australia it seems worlds away to have castles and guards and open-top carriages, marching bands and titles like “queen”, “King”, “Duke” and “Duchess”.
When we think of castles, we think of wealthy, privileged and blessed. Positions (titles) and opportunities where people are treated in a special way. The perception is that “princesses” and “princes” have all they need, can do all they want, when they want. While there is some truth to that, we all know that to a much greater extent, with “much power comes much responsibility” and there are a lot of challenges in these positions. But let’s just stay in the fairytale for a minute.
I said to someone in passing while watching the Royal Wedding that “In Australia we don't have castles.” I know, like myself, many little Australian girls long to be a “Princess” and many boys a “King or ‘Prince”. Nearly every Disney movie has the same theme and they keep bringing them out because it captures something for us all that we secretly long for. Harry and William, and now recently Megan have helped this as they project such an amazing life, or so it seems. Then it struck me, maybe we do have castles and princes and princesses in Australia. They just look different.
I saw a vision of the castles many of our children in Australia have around them. They have their own spaces, bedrooms/playrooms, filled with every toy and thing they desire, with servants (parents) hovering around them, “cotton wooling them” to make sure they are safe and don’t get hurt. Our houses are often surrounded by walls/gates sometimes with an alarm, to make sure they are safe. Education is easily assessable to them, yet they endure it. If they are sick, they have the capacity/resources to get help, even having elective treatment for cosmetic/exterior (non-essential) procedures because they can and need to keep up with their friends. May I go even so far as say they have security guards (Parents) making sure that they are safe as they venture out to do ballet, drama, soccer, art, speech. As they are chauffeured around, there is little they have to do without; food when they are hungry, entertainment at their fingertips, every form of opportunity to learn all forms of the “arts” and more. We create stages for them to perform on and no matter how untalented they are, they are told how wonderful they are and get awards for giving it a go, protecting them from the truth in fear that we might hurt their feelings. At the end of every transition of education and/or extra curricula activity there is a ceremony, where they pretend to be the “princesses” and “princes” they long to be. This is starting even at the age of 5 in some places as they transition from Preschool to School. It is sometimes hard to keep up with and get to all the occasions.
I know this sounds like a very negative slant on our “privileged life”. I know that we have only done all this out of a desire for the best for our kids. But if it was BEST then why are our kids so Troubled? Entitled? Bored? Depressed? Stressed? Suicidal? So many sit on top of their ivory castles, looking out at the world, and although they have everything they are lost. I walk with many of them and it breaks my heart to hear their daily struggles and how they see the world.
It scares me to hear that the highest rate of suicide is in some of the more opulent suburbs of our country.
What a castle we have created for our children, in the hope that they will be happy and safe and yet all we have created is a place that traps them from exploring the adventure of life, to discover that happiness comes through conquering adversity and that true growth comes from falling down and getting back up again.
Church leaders add to that as we create another place for them to be entertained, safe, comfortable, in hope that they feel loved and a sense of belonging. I wonder what we can teach them when we are wrestling with the same “lostness” at times. Recently, a children's ministry leader, when hearing about how children in poverty see Jesus as their hero asked, “How can they be happy and see Jesus as their hero when they are poor?” The lady working in these poor countries graciously said, “It is not in what we have but who we are in Jesus that gives these kids cause to call Jesus their hero.” The Western worker was stunned. If we as adults, parents, leaders in the Western world don't get the key to “real and fulfilling love and life” then we will keep protecting our kids, saving them and shielding them from this important part of growing up. We think that building castles around them is actually the right and loving thing to do, but it is weakening them from the inside out.
What good is a castle if it doesn't build strength and security and a positive hope for the future? What good is all the privilege and opportunity in the world if it doesn't lead us to freedom and empowerment to be a part of positive change in the world around us?
The fact is we ARE all a part of His royal family. He has gone to prepare a mansion for us. For so many children in Australia, even the incredible blessings we do have here on this earth NOW are being wasted, because it is either not enough or we have believed the lie that we deserve more. We are busy building our castles and Jesus is wanting to break in and help our children see the simple truth, that none of this will matter in the end; what you do or don't have. What will matter is what you did with what you were given and how you used it for something greater than yourself. We are called to be “producers” not “consumers” in this world. A good “King” or “Queen” knows that is the end goal. How can we help our kids come out of their “castles” and experience life to the full? I want to be a part of that “Royal” mission.