Of all of God’s creation, He blessed the human race alone with the gift of imagination. We simple beings create things because it is in our God-given nature. Entrusted to us is the ability to dream of great things and to bring those things to life. We are the innovators; the inventors; the storytellers.
But it’s a two-edged sword.
We are blessed with the intellect to discern fact from fiction, yet in this world we live in today we are seeing fantasy and imagination given “real” status. We are witnesses to the embodiment of Proverbs 23:7 (as a man thinks in his heart, so is he), and our society is encouraging us to believe whatever we think about ourselves, even if it is incorrect. Young, impressionable children are encouraged to question what they “feel” about themselves, without even really understanding what that means (because, hey, do adults fully grasp it?), and to embrace whatever truth they feel about who they are, regardless of what is factually correct.
Big names in politics encourage this intentional oversight of truth in favor of what they believe to be “morally right”. The problem is their definition of morality changes to reflect what they feel, and in a time when emotional instability is being celebrated as “passionate activism”, stability and traditional conviction is labeled as archaic and oppressive.
There’s a great divide here, and at the heart of it is the lack of training in discernment. Fact vs. opinion comparisons used to be taught in all levels of schooling. Unfortunately, a cursory search of curriculum taught at elementary and middle school levels today will reveal that instead of being trained how to think, students are being taught what to think–they are being spoon-fed some rather alarming information that reinforces the progressive, “inclusive” rhetoric of politicians who drive the educational machines.
What’s worse is that children are being encouraged to explore the dangerous notion that their very identity is something they can choose, and reality is something they can choose to ignore. They are told that their “true self” (even if it conflicts with biology) IS their identity.
We live in a world that says we shouldn’t be defined by who we are or aren’t … yet places a disproportionate amount of emphasis on exploring imagined realities and celebrating those people who identify as something they are not.
This is creativity gone haywire. It’s a giant leap past the creative spelling that didn’t seem so harmful in early elementary school. Yet we are now finding ourselves with adults who cannot accept that they may be wrong, even when something so innocuous as having their incorrect spelling challenged. We can thank the lack of emphasis on correctness for that!
In much the same way, we have allowed imagination and emotion to rule over fact and reality. Feelings and opinions have lost their place in the realm of fantasy and been given equal status to those things that are true, proven, and factual.
There is a school of thought that discourages pretend, fantasy reading, fairy tales, and the like because it encourages children to believe in things that are untrue. There is some truth to that; if children are left to their own devices, they may take up residence in their fantasy world and refuse to leave. However, if they have a parent guiding them through life who is firmly grounded in reality, having simple conversations about what is real and what is not can be a very healthy way for a child to grow up. Children who are exposed to fantasy are allowed to let their imaginations develop, and if also taught logic and discernment by a caring parent, they will come through childhood with the ability to use both their imagination and their grasp of truth and fact to relate to a world that is confused about blurred lines.
Children are made in the image of God, who shows us in every facet of creation how beautiful and detailed His imagination was. There is nothing inherently wrong with fantasy or pretend or imagining different realities. It’s quite healthy for a child to imagine and dream. The danger comes from not balancing that imagination with the knowledge to see what separates fact from fiction.
So let your children imagine and dream. Let them escape into the world of make-believe. Walk beside them and learn to enjoy it together. Just make sure you show them the way back out so they don’t get lost inside.