PARENTING IS HARD! It’s hard enough to parent kids with the world pressing in on them from every side, but throw in a focus on faith to the mix and it often feels like we are like the proverbial salmon swimming upstream.
My parenting partner in crime and I have decided to pursue a gospel centered idea of parenting and sometimes we feel we have bitten off more than we can chew. When the kids were younger it was easy to default to what we learned from our parents, but as the kids face more complicated challenges we find ourselves in deep water holding on to our God with unimaginable ferociousness. They are growing up and it is our responsibility to teach them how to identify and discern between God and sin. We want them to be well-equipped.
This week, we find ourselves in the throes of back to school chaos. Homework, school work, new teachers, new students, old friends, new friends, having friends over, not having friends over, good grades, bad grades, clubs, sports…the list can get pretty daunting. As we move deeper into the middle school life, we find the questions don’t get harder, they get more complicated to answer. I know that sounds strange, but really the question for our whole lives stays the same. To sin or not to sin, that is the question. When they are 1, do I touch that or do I not touch it? Mommy says no, but will I listen? When they are 5, do I stay by Mommy’s side or do I run away? Today, do I watch that movie, or don’t I? Do I listen to that music or don’t I? Do I have those friends or don’t I? The question is ultimately the same, do I make a choice that leads me closer to God or closer to sin? Our prayer is that they are moving from the desire to be obedient to Dad and Mom, towards the desire to be obedient to God.
As parents, it is easy to take the focus off of the primary question our kids face, to sin or not to sin. We get caught up in the rating of movies, the genre of music, the actors or musicians and their lifestyle and we make judgements on those things and people. We deem them good or bad. We make judgements on what we see. We restrict our kids from certain things, with good intentions, but do we take the opportunity to teach them why? Do we use the opportunity to teach them how to distinguish between God and sin? Do we teach them how to see the world around them through the lens of the gospel? Or are we just making judgements?
That’s what we’ve been facing lately. It’s a part of life. Our kids are human beings who face sin daily. Their hearts threaten to harden to God’s love often times. We fight to help them keep those hearts soft to God. Our prayer is that we teach them to look at the world and see it through a gospel lens. How does God feel about this? What does God say about this? How does God desire me, as a man or woman of faith the address this? and Do I sin, or do I not sin?
John and I believe that we are ambassadors of God’s love in our children’s lives. We take that seriously. They will make judgements about God based on what they see from us. We claim faith, we state that we are people of faith, we talk about God quite a bit. We are representatives of God to them. We ask ourselves quite often, how are we representing? Do they know they are loved by God? Do they know the intensity of that love? Do they know the life changing power of that love? Do they see that love modeled in our love for them? We can’t be God to them. We can’t be perfect. We will make mistakes. We will sin. BUT how will they see us handle that sin? How will we respond when we realize we have sinned? Will we make excuses? Will we blame others? or Will we take responsibility? Will we repent? Will we ask forgiveness when necessary? We hope to answer yes to the last three questions.
Our prayer is that they see God move in our lives and know that God is real because of God’s power in our life. Our prayer is this: as they see us respond to God in our lives, as they see us repent when we sin, they learn the reality of God and the love of God. Our prayer is that God is more attractive than sin. Our prayer is that they see God is better than sin. This is hard! It means we choose not to yell when we wish we could. It means we choose to love when we wish we could shame and guilt. It means we embrace a child who is trying desperately to push us away. It means we love with patience when we wish we could just throw our hands up in the air and walk away. THIS IS HARD! BUT their hearts are on the line. Aren’t their hearts worth doing the hard work? Our answer…YES!
I don’t know if that makes sense to anyone out there, but I felt compelled to share what has been going on in our house.
Until the next confession…