Snowflakes

grayson-allenSnowflakes are delicate and fragile creations. While each of them is unique, if you touch them with your hand, they melt. They can be blown easily by the wind, changing directions based on the forces that surround them, the forces that are stronger than they are. Snowflakes may be pleasant at first, but if you get enough of them together, they can wreak havoc on roads and cause an awful mess. Real snowflakes usually are limited to one season out of the year.

While the real snowflakes are limited to one season out of the year, the figurative snowflakes seem to be joining us indefinitely…..at least until someone decides it’s time to do something about them.

Grayson Allen is a snowflake!

If you follow college basketball at all, you know who Grayson Allen is. He’s in his junior year at Duke University and is among the starters on their men’s basketball team. He’s a 6’5” 21 year old Floridian who has been in the news over the last few years, but especially the last few days, as he intentionally trips his opponents on the basketball court.

Well, according to most people it’s intentional. According to Allen, or at least his antics, his reactions, and his body language, he’s just an innocent victim of bad-calling referees.

The latest infraction for which Allen has made the news took place on Wednesday night when Duke opposed Elon. Allen tripped Elon’s Steven Santa Ana (a clip you can see here).

There are so many things to say about what Allen did, but I think that my greatest concern with this is Allen’s reaction to his resultant technical foul (also seen in above video link).

Like I said, Allen is a snowflake.

I’m not sure where his sense of entitlement came to him. Maybe it was growing up in Jacksonville, Florida attending the Providence School, a private Christian college preparatory school also in Jacksonville. Maybe it was being recruited to Duke University, one of the top basketball schools in the nation. Maybe it was being born at the wrong time in history. Regardless of how it happened, it happened.

When I watched the highlights from Wednesday night’s game, I couldn’t help but shake my head and think to myself, “These are the kinds of kids that we are raising.” Dirty. Entitled. Ruthless players.

A friend jokingly (and rhetorically) asked the question on Facebook whether Allen’s upbringing might be blamed for him being a “thug.” A valid point that will most likely be overlooked far too quickly as Allen is white.

But putting race aside, my concern is that these kinds of snowflakes will one day be out in the “real world” and I wonder whether there will be any kind of intervention before that day comes. All eyes will be watching Duke University, especially Coach K, wondering just how long they will deem an appropriate time frame for his suspension. Will it be one game? Five games? More? Will the league intervene and throw a harder sentence at him?

While some would say this is the time for him to learn lessons, I wonder whether, as a junior, he should have already learned some of these lessons that he is expected to learn this time around. After all, he was heavily criticized for at least two incidents last year which resulted in little more than a slap on the hand. When there are no consequences for our bad decisions, what will stop us from making those same bad decisions again?

Generation Snowflake needs time to deal when things don’t go their way. Generation Snowflake seems to want everything handed to them on a platter without having to work for it. Generation Snowflake is probably not so much a generation as it is a handful of snobby kids who seem to be standing in the spotlight and getting all the press. If I was the rest of that so-called generation, I’d be pretty ticked!

I can’t do anything about Grayson Allen (well, other than gripe about him on social media and my blog), but I can do something about my own children. I can teach them to work for what they want. I can teach them that there are times (many times, in fact) when things don’t go the way that you’d like. I can teach them that just because things don’t go your way doesn’t entitle them to mope around until the situation changes, which let’s face it, probably won’t happen.

I can teach my children how to act and then hope and pray that they take it all in and avoid becoming a member of their own generation’s snowflakes. I don’t think any of them will ever be playing a college sport in the NCAA, but if they do, I hope when that time comes that I will have taught them better than to act like such snowflakes! 

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Firstborn

rembrandt-return-of-the-prodigal-son11I remember when my second child was born.  It had been two years since our first was born and we had spent those two years as a family of three, getting used to each other, learning how to live as a unit, and my wife and I gave all of our attention to our son.  There was no one else to infringe upon his time with us.  He had 100% of us.

Then, our second son came along.  While my first son wasn’t angry, or at least didn’t act it, he also didn’t pay any mind to his new little brother.  He ignored him.  Over time, he began to realize that the time which he had easily monopolized had to be shared.  He was no longer #1.  The first time he really paid any attention to his little brother, my wife had his little brother in the swing and my oldest just stopped, stared at him, and began to laugh hysterically.  We captured the moment on video, which is fairly priceless.  That was the beginning of their relationship together.

From a biblical perspective, there are plenty of advantages to being the firstborn.  The firstborn had the lion’s share of inheritance, many times being the double portion.  The inheritance would extend beyond simply finances as well, the firstborn would most likely carry on the family name and become the patriarch after the death of the father.  There were, and still are, many benefits to being the firstborn.

Among the other places in Scripture where we see the relationship between the firstborn and younger brother is the parable of the prodigal son.  If you have never read Henri Nouwen’s “Return of the Prodigal Son,” it is a must read as he takes the perspective of each character within the book.  The most eye-opening and convicting section of the book for me was the section on the oldest brother.

Sure, the younger brother squandered his share of the fortune on hard living, gaining friends who cared for nothing more than his money, but grace meets us where we are when we come in repentance, which is exactly how the younger brother was returning to his father.  But it wasn’t fair, how could he tell his father, “I wish you were dead because I want my share of the family fortune,” squander all that his money, and then return and think that there was still a place at the table for him?  There are some limits to grace, aren’t there?

It’s always funny how we are happy and satisfied with grace when it is meted out upon us, but when it comes to extending it to someone else, they need to earn it.  Why does that never apply to us?  Do we earn grace?  If we did, would it still be grace?

Lately, I have noticed that the trend of the firstborn happens in all different places in life.  People are #1 for a while, they get everything that they want, all attention is focused on them, and then someone else comes along and they are not happy with sharing.  They have done everything that they are supposed to do and then the “younger brother” comes along, is extended grace, and they aren’t happy about it.   How about me? they ask.  How about all that I have done?

Another parable that strikes a chord, or even a “grace” note, is in Matthew 20.  The workers are hired throughout the day and at the end of the day are all paid the same amount.  It just doesn’t seem fair.  But the landlord did nothing other than what he promised, he paid them all exactly what he had promised, but the ones who had done more work thought it was unfair.

I’m a second born, but there have been plenty of times that I have acted like a firstborn.  I’ve been selfish and stubborn.  I have demanded things my way and cried out “foul” when things don’t go the way that I want.  I want grace but when it comes to extending it elsewhere, I want people to earn it.  I have been the old brother, how about you?

The surprising thing to me is that some of us can go our whole lives and act as if we are only children.  Everything has been handed to us on a platter, served up fresh and on time, and when someone else comes along, cramping our style, we react harshly.  Why can’t things be the way they were when it was just me?  I guess that basic principle of sharing that we were supposed to have learned in pre-school was somehow overlooked.

I don’t want to act like the older son, it just kind of happens though.  I need to be reminded every day that grace happens, it’s not earned, it’s extended freely, otherwise, it wouldn’t be grace.  Think about it.  Check out Nouwen’s book.  Next time you start feeling lofty as if you deserved something, maybe you can remember exactly what you would deserve if it hadn’t been for God’s grace extended to you.