I sat in the rain one Saturday watching my son play soccer. I was cheering at the top of my lungs and having almost as much fun as the boys on the field. But the blankets tucked around my legs and the umbrella over my head didn’t do much against the cold wind and the drip-drip-drip of the rain.
They warn you about changing diapers and staying up all night with your kids, I thought, but no one ever tells you being a mom means this!
Parenting is a high calling, an incredible privilege and responsibility. I know we say that about a lot of things. Being an elementary teacher is a huge responsibility and privilege (doubly so now). Putting on a fundraiser for Samaritan’s Purse is a huge privilege and responsibility.
But when you’re entrusted with the tender emotions, physical needs, financial provision, and spiritual guidance of a little human, well, that falls into a completely different category. It’s like overseeing the State, Treasury, and Health and Human services departments all at once.
Seem overwhelming? Keep it simple
I know that sounds daunting. And in a way parenting IS daunting. There’s so much to do and keep track off. But once in a while it helps to stop, take a step back, and remember what in the long list of things you do every day is most important.
When I was nineteen, I moved to a small mining town in central Brazil. From the minute I unpacked my bags and settled in to my new home, I kept overhearing things like, “We should ask Joe when he’s back.” Or “Joe will know what to do.” Or “I wish Joe were here.”
Who on earth is Joe? I wondered. I’ve got to meet this guy!
Turns out he was a teacher and pastor on vacation in the US. When I met him four months later, he was just as wonderful as everyone had described him. Funny, kind, caring, and quick to serve.
Whether they realized it or not, the people in that community naturally introduced me to Joe, long before I really met him.
That’s the same thing that matters most in parenting–introducing your kids to God so they’re excited to get to know him.
The one thing that lasts
In the end, whether your daughter does online or hybrid schooling doesn’t matter. How well you coached them through math and all those spelling words won’t matter. Are they important? Sure. Does it seem like a HUGE deal now? Absolutely. But the top privilege and responsibility you have is introducing them to God and encouraging them to know him. When that comes first, everything else falls in place (Matt 5:33).
The Take Away
Every day you’re introducing your son or daughter to real Person by what you do and say. Not to a huge religious system. Not to a list of rules or code of conduct. But to a real Person who wants a relationship with them. Thinking of it that way can take the “overwhelm” factor away. It’s more doable and natural. And ultimately that’s the main thing to focus on when you stare at the long to-do list for your day.
Here are a couple things that have helped me.
- Focus on the Person not the process.
Don’t get hung up on following a prescribed method for introducing your kids to God. Having everyday conversations about God and taking the opportunity to explore the meaning of traditions like Christmas are key. But they’re a means to an end. The “how” and “when” will look a different from family to family.
If you were talking up a favorite aunt coming to visit and you really wanted your son to love her as much as you did, what would you do? What would you say? How would you act or express it?
2. Aim for progress not perfection.
Life happens. Don’t knock yourself out if you don’t do twenty-five devotionals in your new Advent book. Don’t feel guilty if your family doesn’t curl up to read the Scripture every night. Be intentional. Be diligent. But start small and build on that.
What’s one small step you could take so your kids would know who God is? What’s an area where you need to give yourself the same grace God does?
3. Lastly, enjoy! I didn’t do this as a mom. I was caught up in all the to-do’s and everything I had to “teach” my son. But relationship is about having fun too. When I was dating my husband, reading his letters and talking for hours on the phone wasn’t a to-do list, it was fun. I really enjoyed it. Enjoy sharing the One you love with the little ones you love almost just as much. What you enjoy will be contagious; your kids will know it’s real.
© Carol Garborg, 2020