Innocence is greatly undervalued. In our society, we mockingly refer to people as sheltered when they don’t know some common fact about culture or haven’t done x, y, and z. I confess I have been (and most often reflect) this kind of person. Growing up in a public school as a very observant person leaves very little to the imagination. While I had a rather “calm” lifestyle compared to other teens, I was fully aware of what my peers were doing on a weekly or daily basis. In that environment, I was the sheltered one. I was the one constantly being educated on what alcohols go in what drink or what food to have around when you get the munchies post-joint. Some would probably say my knowledge is wasted as I am not one to engage in these types of activities.
Coming to a Christian school in the Midwest has suddenly made me the “bad kid” by association and knowledge alone. I am the one that people go to when they have questions about such societal norms. On one hand I’m proud to educate them. Finally! Someone that knows less about the world around them than me! On the other hand I envy them. They possess the innocence of a child. The innocence that can be lost with just the click of the remote or the eavesdropping of an older sibling.
Jesus loved the little children and their purity. He urged His people to have child-like faith, to love and obey without fear. The more I am immersed in this world, the more I fear myself. I fear what I would do if I was suddenly unleashed on this world without inhibitions of any sort. If I had the innocence of a child, I would be able to obey Him and love those around me without fear of what others think of me, or what God thinks of me, or even what I think of myself.
Even though I lack the innocence, I am grateful for the exposure I’ve had to this world. While what I do scares me out of my mind, there is almost nothing that a person can tell me that can surprise me or scare me. I have seen so many dark things that the first emotion that rushes to me is compassion rather than judgment. The exposure allows me to love–not in a child-like way but in the sense of, “I know and understand what you are going through.” It allows me to give advice with prior knowledge to back me up rather than just grasping thoughts of out thin air to supply someone.
With the knowledge I have been given, I feel a responsibility to take care of this world. I have seen what happens when bad things happen to good people and what bad things happen to bad people; all I know is I want to protect those who have been so fortunately shielded to this point. I believe it is important to understand the culture around you, but there is a balance between understanding and engaging. There is a line between innocence and ignorance. I pray for innocence with an open mind, for ignorance is birthed from blindness.