Analog requires effort. You have to put some effort into it, but you can expect the outcome to be proportional. Do you invest love, time, and joy? Guess what you will get?
I built a fire with my eight-year-old son this week. He helped me gather the firewood. We stacked it together. He lit the fat lighter and watched it slowly ignite. An hour later, as we prepared dinner, the fire died because we had not tended it. I helped him place another piece of fat lighter among the hot coals and rearrange some wood and told him to wait.
He reached for the lighter, but I took it from him and told him to wait. He complained. “But, nothing is happening.” I told him to wait.
He sat close to the fire on the hearth and watched, exasperated. It was obvious to him that I was dumb and had sent him on a fool’s errand. Until, from the kitchen I heard, “It started again!”
My eight year old is all boy and he learns primarily through experience (a trait that terrifies me, most of the time). If I had turned on the TV for Sloan, I could have built a fire in peace and quiet. He would have appreciated the warmth, but he would have paid little notice to the process. But, when he participated in gathering wood and building the fire, this particular fire became his fire. He learned that a small spark can grow into a warm fire. He learned that hot coals can be brought back to life. He learned (I hope) that daddy knows what he’s talking about when he says “wait.” He learned because he experienced.
Increasingly as a parent (and pastor), I am convinced that families need to emphasize analog experiences. In the digital age, our kids need to feel hugs, experience personal connections, eat real food, take their own photographs, get splinters, skin their knees, and feel the pages of a Bible or book as they read it to themself or out loud. They need to stand with their parents and marvel at God’s glory in a sunset or even hold hands and cry at a funeral.