There is a passage of the Bible that refers to one’s children as arrows, and calls the man blessed who has a full quiver. As parents, we send these arrows out into the world. We’ve done all of the prep work possible to ensure those arrows fly straight and true, hitting the target of what God calls them to do with their lives.
The bowman takes care to ensure his bow is in good condition, he repairs it as necessary, and is not irresponsible with it’s handling. He tends to his arrows, putting effort into making sure they are straight, their tips are strong, and even trimming and shaping the feathers to ensure they fly right.
When a hunter teaches his children how to use a bow, the children first learn by watching him … they study his technique as much as they learn how to care and protect the bow when it’s not in use. They emulate his teachings as they move out on their own journey, and they will teach their children the same thing. If they encounter a difficulty, they will turn to their father and ask his advice. And, when he can no longer hunt… they will hunt for him using the knowledge and skill that he taught them.
Just as the bowman’s children watch him, our children watch us. They may not be interested in following our career footsteps or even share the same hobbies… but they are watching. They are watching how we navigate in this world. So, what do you exhibit for your children? What are they learning from you?
Growing up, family was incredibly important and a priority. If someone in the family was ill or terminal, our world stopped as much as it could. We would do whatever we could to help that person, their household, and be present. When my husband went through a series of surgeries and was homebound for nine months… my family were incredibly supportive, including my church family. They showed up, present, helpful. Without a doubt though, I noticed the people who didn’t show … and so did he.
When my Father in Law came into Hospice care, my husband was taking time off of work, visiting his father every single day. We taught our children a valuable lesson during this time about priority and family. We taught our kids how family comes together and bonds during crisis, how to set the world aside for that short time. We gave them permission to stop the world around them for the sake of those who are important to us. We taught them what it looks like to honor their parents, to put others before themselves, and simply what it means to be present.
But, we don’t just teach them that in moments of crisis either. It is part of our every day. They know that despite living an hour apart, that I connect with my mom a few times a week. They know that our family is growing and it’s getting harder to see each other… so we make a priority to connect whenever we can. It’s effort, constant, regular effort. It says YOU matter to ME.
I know that when the time comes, and my children are adults… they are not going to be filled with excuses about why they couldn’t come and visit on a weekend or if one of us gets sick…. they will be there at our side. I know this, because they witnessed it in us. They see how we respond, respect, and make effort with our parents. We are keenly aware that if we make excuses for why we can’t be there for our family members, our children witness that too. We are being watched.
We are being watched every day, and even when the kids don’t say much about what they see… it goes into their memories. They see us when we are generous, and when we are not. They see when we are kind to a stranger, and when we are not. They see how we treat our neighbors, our pets, the blessings the Lord has given us. They see how we steward our money, how we revere the Lord, and how we lean into Him. They see our roots deep into our faith, and they see the fruit that we bear.
They watch as we navigate the ups and downs of our lives in community. They have watched us forgive, set healthy boundaries, and remove toxicity from our lives. They witness us struggle but never give up, stand firm for our family, and bend to serve those in need. They watch how we respond to tragedy in the world, and they hear our prayers for those who are far from Him.
Every day, we are straightening the arrows… strengthening their tips… trimming and shaping the feathers, that they may fly straight and true. Teaching them the way to go, and when they are older they will not turn from it… begins by modeling it before them. Letting them watch us walk the walk, not just talk the talk.