“Love your enemies. Pray for those who torment and persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44 Voice Paraphrase)
Why would Jesus tell us to pray for someone that has snuck past our radar and hurt our family? The “bully” is a beloved child of God, too. The pain in their life is fueling their wrath towards us.
In a society where the hate is palpable, we have to slow down and sit with our Savior before we launch into our defensive attack. Through our actions and reactions towards bullying, we can lead the way for others who find themselves in similar situations. Even though it feels personal, it’s not.
“The devil has come to kill, and destroy” (John 10:10). He wants us to fight each other like plastic foosball players, but Jesus has already crushed His agenda. If we refuse to play into it, we will experience what He came to give us: life to the full. (John 10:10 b).
I have a child who hears everything I say no matter how many floors of the house and blaring TV’s or devices separate us. She pops up into conversations at random and repeats things I thought were out of her earshot. I really wish I could screen her questions before she asks them, and cringe in fear of what she might say whenever her little hand pops straight up into the air to ask a question. She holds me accountable! Whatever I say is coming back at me, full speed …in front of everyone …at the most awkward time possible. There are no breaks in parenting! No breaks.
The digital age has it’s challenges for parents and kids alike. The questions are endless, the monitoring never-ending, and the app requests are constant. One generation is growing up immersed in information and accessibility like never before. The older generations attempting to parent their children through all of this haven’t lived through it from the ground up like they have. It’s challenging to stand in credibility when we’re learning so much on the fly, ourselves.
In some ways, the generational gaps are very similar to those we experienced with our parents. But in many ways, the world seems to be a brand new ball game. A scary one. Terrifying, even. It’s not in our heads. We’re not being paranoid. It’s not a product of watching too much of the news. The world is catapulting towards it’s inevitable end at a very fast rate. We live in the end times, the time between Jesus going to heaven to be with the Father, and the time He will return again to set ALL OF IT straight. Until then, here we are. More broken than ever. More catastrophe than ever. More hurt, pain, suffering, and tragedy than ever. And since we’re more connected and technologically advanced than ever, we know more than ever about ALL OF IT.
“Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God.” Romans 3:19 NIV
Every mouth silenced. The VOICE paraphrase says, “muzzle every mouth, to silence idle talk, and to bring the whole world under the standard of God’s justice.”
Holding ourselves accountable to God’s truth sends a powerful message to our children. Our actions make a bigger impact than what comes out of our mouths. Openly sharing our faith with our children makes a difference, but allowing them to watch us live it puts it in bold italics. Children want to be accepted for who they are, right now. They need to be loved for who they are, while they grow. In the midst of awkward transitions happening to the backdrop of an ever-changing world, our children need love to live.
We need Love to live. All of us.
There are things we are not going to be able to explain to ourselves, or to our children. There are simply no answers for all of the horrific things that happen in this world. No ability to understand them even if God gave them to us. How do we throw our trust in God, regardless? Everything we need to know can be unlocked by opening up the Bible and praying for understanding. Seeking God, and holding onto His promise that we will find Him.
Christianity is not a mythical faith that requires us to throw all of our gumption into the unknown. Jesus Christ can be proven. If you are searching for answers, keep searching, keep asking, and you will find them. God is not hiding. In fact, He wants to be found. For ourselves, as parents, that’s an important fact to embrace. Our kids are watching us. They are watching to see how are faith holds us together. How we make sense out of the things that don’t seem to make sense.
Our lives speak for themselves.
In this world, we are promised to have trouble. We are told, as Christians, it will be even harder. Why would anyone sign up for that? For the promise of eternity with Christ in heaven. Fact finding firms the foundation of our faith, but walking with Christ brings us to our knees. The personal, daily care our Heavenly Father leads us with. Going before us, behind us, and remaining with us. Despite the world, despite ourselves, we see life through a different filter than those who choose to walk without Him. A filter of grace, hope, peace, and love …that surpasses all understanding.
We cannot authentically love the people in our lives well unless we are putting Love first in our lives. It effects everything. Our kids notice, our friends see, our family knows. Strength comes from our Savior, Jesus Christ. The world is a mess, yep. It’s going to keep getting messier, yep. But hope is still hope. Love is still Love. Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father who sees all and knows all. In ways we only get glimpses of, all of mess will be cleaned up, in due time. In His perfect time. In the meantime, we learn on the fly. We grow with our kids. We embrace every good thing and trust that God is somehow making good out of all the bad.
When the world butts up against us, all abrasive and entitled, we can choose to forgive forward, love despite, and compassionately extend kindness. Our kids are watching. They are listening. They hear everything. Who are we echoing?
Parents and guardians cannot claim to know how God is going to bloom the seeds of His faithfully planted and watered Word. Proverbs 22:6 states, “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it,”(NASB). The word “train” in the original Hebrew means, “to train,” but also, “to dedicate, inaugurate.” (Strong’s Concordance #2596) Inaugurate means to make a formal beginning of, and this is where parenting plays an important role.
Parents have a responsibility to teach children the way of God. Despite our best efforts to immerse them in the Word, there is a lot we don’t know, and cannot predict, about who our children will become. We don’t know how they will rebel or what adversity they will face. But we can make sure they have access to the Truth in His Word. The living and breathing Word of God begins to impact our children from the moment we begin read it to them, pray it over them, and declare it over their lives. Even though we often don’t know how, introducing our children to the Word of God is one of the best ways to train them up.
Here are 10 ways parents can engage kids with God’s Word for life.
God’s purpose for our lives runs adjacent to His plan. When, as parents, we acknowledge the hand of God on the direction of our lives, we can then turn and lead our children to seek His path and purpose for theirs.
“Why can’t we live by Papa and Grammy?” my little girls ask through streaming tears every time we say good-bye. In those moments, I wrestle with God and the lump in my throat, because I don’t always understand. In those moments I cling to truths like Ephesians 3:20, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work with us.”
Hope is not anchored in having all of the answers, understanding why, or knowing how. Our hope is anchored in Who we run to. The hope of Proverbs 22:6 is that as our children see us seeking God, they will eventually bypass our voice for His.
Here are 10 ways that parents can lead children to seek God and follow Him:
Folding teeny tiny t-shirts filled my heart to the brim with joy for many years. I never would have dreamed of sharing laundry duty, or even calling it a duty to begin with. Silently changing padding through the house to switch loads while first daughter napped felt like heaven on earth.
Time is tricky.
Somehow, over the years, laundry became a burden. You guys …laundry DOES NOT fill my heart to the brim with joy now! It’s fills my laundry room to capacity and completely overwhelms me. The sheer amount of the whole family’s laundry causes me to DREAD IT all the way to Target to buy more underwear instead of separating ALL OF THE LOADS. I’d love to tell you that was the first time I’ve done that …but it absolutely wasn’t.
Time tends to turn the gift of socks laying on the floor into annoyances that set us fuming. What was once a joyful reminder of people filling my life and my home is now one more thing I can’t figure out how to squeeze into a limited amount of time. The older my kids get, the faster time slips by. I can’t stop it, and I can’t seem to figure out how to train my people to pick there socks up off the floor so that I can re-allocate the 3.5 seconds it takes me to pick them up and walk them to the laundry room.
As I prayed and prepared to start “book-fasting” to ready my life and soul for book baby #2, I knew something had to be done about the overwhelming amount of laundry I caught myself dragging down stairs and dumping. It was time to turn it over. When what once brought us joy begins to wear on us, it may be time to turn it over. I was delaying the complete laundry turnover, partly because I didn’t trust them to do it right, and partly because I think deep down this momma was dealing with …change.
Transitions are tough. All change requires adjustment. I prefer proven processes. Turning over requires letting go. Every time my children are able to accomplish something without me, I’m reminded they aren’t mine to hold onto. They are God’s, and I have to let go, piece by piece, and let them flourish and learn and create their own processes, trusting good seeds have been planted and firm roots are being watered.
It was hard to let go of the laundry.
The left the piles accumulate and it took days fold and put it all away. The wet loads left in the washer had to be re-washed. I let them do it. I let all of the lessons be learned. The empty space I feel when I finish my laundry and no one else’s is a catch 22.
My kids don’t need me to do laundry their anymore. I thought I needed to reallocate my time to push a book baby out. God was making room for new conversations my daughters need me to be fully present in.
He goes before us so efficiently, asking us to set things down so we are able to pick up new things. Raising kids produces a lot of laundry. It has to be washed, but it’s not the most important thing. Let it pile up while He clears room for important conversations. Let them do it, and feel the full weight of their laundry. All of the clean stuff they shove into those hampers …let them carry it all down and wash it, and fold it and put it away again. Maybe they’ll start wearing some of that stuff more than once. Maybe they’ll learn some new things.
Everyday older we get the closer we are to the next transition. Let’s not fear it, but embrace them all, knowing God will faithfully keep us busy with new things …new changes …new conversations.