Over the long, Memorial Day weekend, my family and I headed to my family’s lakehouse. It was such a glorious change from being quarantined in our home for the last 10+ weeks due to COVID-19. We even got to hug extended family members! While we were there we spent so much necessary time in nature. On one of our hikes to a nearby pond, I was being silly with the kids pretending I was afraid to cross a stream. They were getting a kick out of encouraging me to be brave. That’s when my three-year-old said, “You don’t have to be afraid, Mom. God is always with you.” Oh, the life lessons we learn from our children!
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)
I am always so shocked every time one of my kids reveals they absorbed something I taught them. I guess more often than not, it seems that they can’t understand bigger concepts due to maturity, development, or just plain distraction. But then we have moments like these where we realize they really are soaking it all in. Like a little sponge, our kids hear everything we say and see everything we do in front of them. That means they are exposed to a lot of positive life lessons and, unfortunately, negative life lessons as well.
If you want to raise faith-filled kids, you have to be a faith-filled parent. Not by beating them over the head with your beliefs, but by modeling for them what a life of faith looks like. It seems easy enough, but I always doubt whether I am doing enough to show them how to trust God and see His work in our lives. But then I remember how it was for me growing up. It wasn’t always what my parents said to instill a Christ-centered belief system in our hearts. It was their daily routines and actions that our home revolved around that wanted me to keep Christ in the center of my heart as well. And just seeing my Mom have her Bible open daily showed me how important and necessary that was.
Growing up we said grace before meals, went to Church on Sundays, attended weekly youth group, and praise music was always blasting. My mom always started the day with a prayer in the car asking God to bless us and keep us safe. Sometimes it annoyed us because she would turn off the music we were bumping to, but you know what I do on the way to my kids’ school every morning now? Pray for their protection and health too.
My parents also always prayed for our safety on long car trips and, sure enough, we do the same thing before we head out on the road. You don’t have to force anything, but just offer a space to meet God in day-to-day life. This is enough to show children how important it is to get in the habit of keeping Christ in the heart of your home and the forefront of your minds.
Life Lessons Often Happen Naturally
I remember my father-in-law dropping my kids off after taking them to lunch one day. And he told me that he asked the kids what they thought I was doing the whole time they were gone. My middle son responded, “Reading the Bible and spending time with God.” Now, before you think I am at saint-level and spending all my kid-free time soaking in the Spirit, let me set you straight. I could always spend more time in the Word and prayer. And I often (shamefully) prioritize laundry, errands, couch lounging, and Instagram ahead of time with God. I am human after all. But, I guess my kids, despite it all, know how important it is to me to grow in my faith through prayer and Bible study. And they see me do it enough that that’s what they picture when they think of me.
Encouraging faith-filled kids doesn’t have to be all or nothing and it doesn’t have to be a curated, perfect effort. Our kids see every side of us no matter what. They see our good moods and bad moods. They see our proud moments and our shameful moments. And they certainly see our put-together moments versus our fall-apart-messy moments. They hear us use encouraging words and they hear us use judgmental words. And they see us make good decisions and not-so-good decisions.
We aren’t perfect, but they don’t need perfect parents, nor do they want them. Just remember, we can not hide from our kids. They see us and they hear us. Make sure the majority of what they see and hear are the life lessons you want them to talk about. I am SO glad my son said he thought I was spending time with God instead of spending all our money on Amazon! Phew!
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14)