Thank you SOOO much Jamie for the Sunday Thoughts link-up; I’m really excited to link up!
Imagine this. A plant growing in a greenhouse with light streaming through, regularly watered, fertilized, and gently cared for by its owner. Isn’t that a delightful picture? People might have called me sheltered, but I’m thankful for it. This year I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how I grew up, and I came to the realization that many people would have considered me to be ‘sheltered.’ I grew up homeschooled. I didn’t go on a great deal of field trips; honestly I was more of a home body anyways. We watched movies, but I didn’t do much internet or social media till I was 15 or 16. I didn’t get Instagram till I was 21. For a long time I wore my hair down and long. I didn’t wear makeup (not because my parents said I couldn’t), but I honestly didn’t want to wear it.
I loved my shelter. My parents raised me in the rich atmosphere soaked with the gospel; my mother and father are both humble people that often confessed their sins and faults to us. They aren’t afraid to admit they’re wrong. If we wanted to watch a movie, they would encourage us to think about it, they didn’t just let us watch or do whatever we wanted, and for that I’m actually really really thankful now because children aren’t very discerning or wise. I was a pretty foolhardy, impetuous child, and God used my parents to gently shepherd and shelter and teach me.
In fact, when I was a child, I definitely mirrored this verse from Proverbs 22:15, ‘Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.’
I had a lot of foolishness bound up in my heart, and my parents knew it. They had probably experienced many of the things I experienced as a child, and they were wiser than me. They knew a child like me needed the daily water of the Word of God, the daily reminder that I needed God’s grace, I needed Jesus to forgive me of my sins, I needed God’s steadfast love day by day by day by day.
I feel unbelievably blessed, because I never felt oppressed by my parents. Yet, they never just took their hands off, didn’t give us advice, or not let us know they cared. Their shepherding, even their spankings, advice, and encouragements to think and to search God’s Word for the answers, were definitely some of the biggest blessings to prepare me for adulthood.
They would let us listen to music but they sheltered it with wholesome happy, joyful music that focused on GOOD things, not on darkness or despair.
They would let us watch movies, but my dad walked through the movies with us and helped us apply God’s Word so we could see what was good and what wasn’t.
They would allow us to buy clothes. They didn’t micro manage us, but they sheltered us with the reminders that for me as a woman, God made me uniquely; He made me to invest in the beauty He’s given me, and it’s ok to wear dresses, skirts, and scarves and be feminine.
They encouraged us to travel and explore, but they sheltered us with prayer and wise advice.
We had many friends. They didn’t do the version of ‘sheltered’ that many people think of when they hear the word. My dad would take us to movies, but he sheltered us and surrounded us with the truth of the gospel as we watched. He helped us to learn to discern between the good and the bad by applying God’s Word to it. He wasn’t afraid of us listening to certain things, but he encouraged us to think about ‘Why.’
I would break it down to this: we were sheltered with the gospel of Jesus. God’s Word was and is our foundation, and it’s really kept me rooted and grounded as I’ve learned to venture out with that shelter of the gospel of Jesus still around me, still on me.
Ephesians 3:17, ‘so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love.’ That’s what their prayer was for us; they wanted us to be rooted and grounded in Jesus, knowing that we need Him every single day, that we need to be abiding in His love and remembering that He is our identity.
But I knew we were sheltered, protected from a great many things that I only started to see when my parents took away more of the parental sheltering in my later teens.
But they sheltered us by reminding us where our foundation lied, not in the culture’s opinions, not in what others say, but in what God says about us in Christ Jesus. Our house was filled with singing, play, serious conversations, enjoying God’s creation, enjoying each other, and learning that we weren’t perfect people, that Romans 3:23 was true of us, and that’s why we needed so desperately the Savior of the world.
Romans 3:23, ‘ For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;’
And they always moved from Romans 3:23 to Romans 6:8-12.
‘Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.’
I think that sheltering prepared me. God used it to open my eyes to brokenness around me in the world because of sin and to not be hardened by it. It wasn’t something I was used to, but it also showed me just how broken I was too. It showed me that growing up in a Christian home wasn’t what made me a Christian. It showed me that I needed the grace of God every single day, or else I would go to hell.
The sheltering was a rich foundation, but God was the One who used it to root in my heart the rich teaching of the Gospel, the rich truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the rich lovely beauty of Christ, the depth of my sin, and the FAR exceeding forgiveness of God in Jesus Christ to me.
So I’m thankful I was sheltered.
Does that mean I never watched movies? No… I actually got to watch quite a few popular movies and listen to music, but the rooting and grounding my parents gave me prepared me to strain through the music and movies to find the keepers and do away with the ones that aren’t keepers.
It opened my eyes and encouraged me to continue to look for the grace of God every day to, to share with others who have been broken by sin and ravaged by it like me, the amazingness of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
What does ‘sheltered’ mean to you when you hear the word?
Have you been sheltered in this kind of way? Are you thankful for that?