Unwinding the yoyo – runspringa

It was 15 years ago that my wife and I first decided to try things differently. Both of us were raised in regular society, both in different kinds of christian homes, public education, etc. What did we wanted to do differently and why and what is the meaning of the title of this blog anyways?

I’ll start with the why. We wanted to do things differently because we were not happy with how things were being done in the traditional societal sense. The Church environment seemed not so sincere as we thought it should be. Public education was forcing views and behaviour that we need not want for our children. At the core of it all was a sense that family (and that includes Church family) should be intimate and real. We felt the need to be totally accountable for the direction of our children, and the spiritual growth of our family and the broader Church family. With all that said, I don’t want anyone to accuse me of delivering a blow to all the things we didn’t like (traditional Church and public education,etc). We just wanted something better, and started on a new journey.

Now that we have some background, you will see in some way why we decided to homeschool our children, and particiate in a HomeChurch environment. Both of these items may be very contentious as well as very dangerous. Sparing the details of our experiences here, I would like to make one observation. A devout Christian desires his/her children to be godly, regardless of the cost. To be godly is not about following a tradition, or being part of an association, but to be like God. We want our children to be like Jesus (Godly). Our entire married life has revolved around learning and training our children to avoid what is worldly (1 John 2:15) and love what is godly (Romans 12:9).

Since I was a student in grade 7, I recall a unit study that focused on the Amish. Perhaps this was because I lived in Guelph, Ontario at the time and there is a large Mennonite / Amish community around there. I recall being fascinated with the purity and devotion of those people. I have different views now, but one thing I cannot understand is what the Amish call ‘runspringa’. Imagine (as I do in my own situation) training your children for many years, teaching them your values and nurturing them in a strong faith towards Christ. Suddenly at the age of 16 you more or less turn your back on them and tell them its time to see the world in all its glory. At the age of 16 young boys and girls (men and women) are loosed to go and do whatever they like (many start drinking, partying, doing drugs, having sex,etc). While you cannot totally isolate your children from all the evils of this world, I feel tha this runspringa is like throwing your children to the lions when they are most vulnerable.

It’s like winding up a yoyo that has a long string and then after spending all that time slowly, faithfully winding up that yoyo, you just throw it as far from you as you can, letting it unwind to its maximum. Sure you can do that, but hopefully you a) don’t have the string detach from the yoyo and b) are able to wind it up once again.

Having invested more in my children than in anything else (other than 1) my own relationship with Jesus Christ and 2) my wife) it’s hard to understand how others who have spent so much on something so precious, and then throw it all away. Perhaps there is something I have missed or do not fully understand about this Amish tradition? Everything in life requires the right kind of balance between protection vs exposure. Everyone will give a different view on their opinion of how many parts each should contain. At the end of the day there are real people involved with a whole lifetime of their own getting set in motion by you (At least the initial stages). I thank God for entrusting my wife and I with such a significant responsibility, and I will give all that I have to give towards these eternal souls, and keep a clear conscience.


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