Innocence is a Choice
When most people think of the word “innocent,” they often associate it with words like “naive” and “young,” and thus its connotations are hardly desirable. Who wants to be called naive? I know I don’t. And in the world we live in, we really can’t go through this life and remain innocent. Our culture bombards us with messages and information about dark and dirty things that we would never want to know, and we try to cover our children’s ears, but we can’t shelter them forever. Everyone eventually has to enter the sinful world we live in.
I see so many situations and hear countless stories of girls (and guys, too) who found themselves in a bad situation and had their “innocence,” if you will, taken from them. They did not willingly give up their innocence; they became a victim of our sinful world. I have not heard a single story from my friends or acquaintances where they did something bad because they sought it out. The first time is always because someone else introduced it to them, and in their innocence, they engaged in it. But the real tragedy often comes afterwards: they often allow that moment to define them. They believe that, because their innocence was taken from them, they are no longer innocent. They begin to live that lifestyle because their either believe it was their fault, or they believe that’s who they are now. It’s heartbreaking to watch; I’ve seen it happen before. But I’d like to contend that innocence is not a state of being: it’s a choice. And I believe that’s a critically important distinction.
One way or another, I’m sure we’ve all seen, heard, or done things we never wanted to. We’ve essentially had pieces of our “innocence” or “naivety” taken from us. We were introduced to it by someone who already engaged in it. Now we know; we can’t “un-know” it. I’ve felt that way before. This evil world will try its very hardest to steal our innocence from us at every turn, and then turn around and blame it on us. We often then perpetuate this mistake thinking it defines us. So in a way, none of us are truly naive. This is important, and I want to pass this on. I want to make the distinction in this way: just because you get the joke doesn’t mean you have to laugh at it. And just because you get it doesn’t mean you’re a bad or dirty person. Innocence happens when you get the joke but choose not to laugh. And just because you’ve gone there doesn’t mean you have to go back. In a world where you can barely go a day without being “corrupted” by something, this is the definition of innocence. This is critical: it lies at the heart of the Christian message of redemption, and it is one I wish desperately I could make my generation understand.
I live in an evil culture. There are lots of things I know and I’ve seen that I wish I hadn’t, but I don’t have control over that. I am not “innocent”: I know a lot of what goes on in the world. I can no longer see the world through the eyes of a child who sees only the best in it. But the essence of the Christian message is this: I am now in a white robe, and that darkness cannot influence me or invade my heart. I can live as though that never happened; we are all innocent because of Christ. But this innocence is not a state of being, for we have all sinned. It’s a choice. And I’ve decided I want to be innocent. I might get the joke, but I won’t laugh. I won’t talk about those things. I won’t think about them. I won’t allow the world to invade those areas I can control: my speech, my heart, and my actions. And I want to encourage you that, whatever the world has taken from you (it has taken from ALL of us; there are no exceptions), you don’t have to surrender to it. You ARE innocent. It’s a daily choice. You are free. You are whole; you have not lost anything. Jesus gave it all back to you when he saved you and dressed you in a white robe of purity. Your innocence was given back to you at the cross; embrace it. I want to stand up to the world and tell it that it can try to take it from me, but I will daily choose innocence. I will lay my sins and regrets and Jesus’s feet and take his freedom and become like a child again. Innocence cannot be taken from you. Innocence is a choice.
Christie Weakly, 18, is a sophomore majoring in Computer Science with the addition of a Masters of Business. She was homeschooled all the way through and thoroughly enjoyed her education experience. She holds her second degree black belt in Taekwondo, having practiced the sport for seven years. She loves working out, reading, pondering ideas and discussing ideals, learning, writing, drinking coffee and tea, and trying new things.
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