As parents, especially when kids hit their rebellious years, there is a part of us that wonders if all that we have taught them about God and faith has actually stuck. They are in a position where they are battling the choice between being “godly” and “worldly”. It seems, to me, that it really doesn’t matter how your raise your children; in regards to education, discipline, denomination, etc. The world presses them.
When making olive oil, the limbs are cut from the tree, crushed, pressed and only then does the good, pure, oil flow. It’s a traumatic process on the tree, but the result is good and healthy for us. It’s only when it is broken and pressed, that you see the results your are looking for.
It is in those moments where the world is pressing on our children, we see what will flow from them…is it good oil or rancid?
Recently, one of my daughters was really hurt by a friend. At first, I didn’t realize that it bothered her as much as it did. She stuffed it inside, but as time pressed on, she recognized the pain. Who did she turn to? Her boyfriend? Her other friends? No. She turned to me. Her mother, her teacher, one of the people God assigned to guide her through this life. It brought us to a great conversation about friendships, and ultimately hypocrisy. And, as usual, these conversations turn to God.
I may not be the parent that sits down every morning and begins our morning with devotions (Bless you, if you do). I may not be the parent that makes sure we pray at every single meal, or every night before bed (Again, bless you, if you do). I’m not wired that way. It is very important to me that my encounters and interactions with God are free flowing, natural, and honest. I know, FOR MYSELF, I can allow myself to get caught up in routine and lose actual intimacy in the process. I also want my kids to realize we can talk about God, or to God, whenever we want. It isn’t reserved to certain times of the day, or days of the week.
Once conversation, on the book of Revelation, kept my eldest and I up until 4am. FOUR. AM.
While I love how my kids will come to me, when they really want to understand something or need to work through something that is bothering them…. I absolutely ADORE IT when they go to God. I am thankful that God, has on many occasions, seen fit to answer their prayers (even the ones I think are trivial).
About a week ago, my two daughters where adamant about not cleaning their room. As any good parent, I offered explicit instructions on what I wanted & when I wanted it done by. As time progress my “good parent” status became “desperate parent” status. I found myself dragging in a few empty bins from the garage & saying “Just get everything off the floor and into these bins”. Checked in on them, nothing. Threatened to take it all out to the trash.
They still didn’t do it. Not only did the both refuse to clean up, but they were also fighting with each other. Mom (me), became undone. I sent them out of their room, and proceeded to box and bag up EVERYTHING in their room that wasn’t clothing or bedding. I hauled it out to the living room.
Was a right in what I did? I think most parents would agree sometimes extreme is needed. Was it hard? Yes. I think we’d agree on that too.
But, the next day, I was a bit calmer. This was a first instance for them, and I decided to give the a chance to earn it back. I came up with a plan & explained it with to them when they arrived home from school. It was then, my youngest told me that she had prayed to God that “mommy would give me my toys back”.
She was so upset about losing her toys, broken hearted, tears sobbing, begging and pleading. I knew I couldn’t go back on my words. In her desperation, my sweet daughter turned to God. He answered her prayers, when my heart was softened.
Sometimes though, our children’s faith is a lot more under the radar. My teenager will often say things to me about how the world operates. I have seen her battle between what the word deems acceptable, and what she knows God would want for her. I have watched her mouth off to her friends and speak with their words about “organized religion” and things being old fashioned. Do I wish she was strong enough in her faith, to stand up in these situations and retort “Well, the bible says….”. SURE I DO. But, I also remember being a teenager. I remember wanting to belong. I remember not wanting to bear the mark of the “goody two shoes”. I have watched the preachers kids rebel against their parents rules. I reached out to help the girl who was pregnant,and her parents kicked her out of the house. The world, is real.
However, when you really listen to your kids… when they talk about their words, asking them the right questions, you will see their faith come out in droves. It won’t be in the obvious “what would Jesus do” type of questions. It’s questions like:
What do you think about that?
How does that make you feel?
Do you think that was a wise decision?
How do you think that could have been handled better?
They are not only non-threatening questions, but they don’t give any indication that you are expecting a certain answer. You are simply just interested in their take on the situation.
When she tells you about a girl who got pregnant in their class; and you ask: What do you think about that?… Her faith comes out when she says flippantly “she probably shouldn’t have had sex”.
You see it when you are watching the news with her, and she comments: “there is so much evil in the world”.
And my favorite of all time, we some how got on the topic of life after death. She asked what atheists thought happened to our bodies after death, and I replied: “Nothing, they believe the body just rots away”. And she responded with something so poignant….
“Then what is the point? What is the point of living a good life, what is the point of following the rules and doing good things, what is the point of anything? Life is hard, sometimes it sucks. Why go through that for nothing?”
In those words she reveals so much about her self, that there are expectations for us… and even more important there is an eternity. She never mentioned God, Jesus or salvation directly, but the foundations were there.
It takes me back to something I shared in an earlier blog… I had confessed to her that I felt like I failed her, as a Christian parent, many times. I was comparing her faith to that of gal many years older, taking blame upon myself for not doing/being/teaching more. And, she said: “Mom, I’m only fifteen.”
This assurance, said so much more than just “relax”…. but it actually showed me that no matter what she might be saying at the moment, she expects to be at that same status one day. I have to stop trying to define her journey according to my timeline. I need to let God, do what He wants to do IN and WITH her.
And, God is continually answering not only our kids prayers… but our prayers for them.
Our kids will show their faith in subtle, unexpected ways. It won’t always show up where you expect it. But, when you find out your daughter made a donation to a family in need from her birthday money… THAT is her faith at work. When your son stands up for someone who is being picked on… THAT is his faith showing. When your 8 year old cries to God about her mean mommy taking all of her toys…. THAT is faith.