I drove into work today on a beautiful morning and I feel like I heard some echoing about our life. Things become focused, illuminated, and simply calm. I sat down and wrote it down before it became fuzzy.
I want my kids to live the life Jesus wants for them.
It’ll be very specific. Because even the nearest-bestest-people in my circle, loving and living in a similar way, have COMPLETELY different Jesus-lives than myself. Their personality and quirks, their gifts and sufferings, their places….is very different than mine.
And I expect my kid’s lives will be distinctly different then mine. And different then Matt’s. And different than each other.
They have a Jesus-life now. As toddlers, believing the truths about Jesus we tell them. And then they’ll need to chose Jesus on their own. Very soon, they will have choices, and praying that they say yes to that choice, every stage as their faith journey progresses.
So I want to start preparing our kids for the adult-Jesus-life that they may encounter. I don’t know any of the specific people/places. But even among the differences, there are some common themes I hope they start to learn. And the best way to learn? Is to teach. The best way to teach? To demonstrate it myself.
I want my kids to be brave. So I’ll not flinch when a dog comes at me, or when the thunder feels an inch away. I’ll climb up high and say I’m nervous and shaking but I’m glad we’re doing it together. I’ll be brave in my own fears in front of my kids.
I want my kids to feel safe to make mistakes, and feel loved enough to learn from them. I’ll say sorry when I make so many parenting mistakes, and I’ll ask for their forgiveness. Constantly.
I want my kids to love to read, or love to learn. So I’ll read my books when they take a bath, so they see me reading books, and not just my phone. And I’ll spend over an hour, half asleep in the dark, reading them books before bed. We’ll go to the library weekly and find new books together.
I want my kids to embrace diversity. So I’ll find both professional and personal ways to interact with different cultures and social statuses. We fear what we do not know. So I’ll teach them to learn.
I want my kids to see the hurting and walk towards them. So I’ll be the first one there when they’re hurt, and I’ll show them how to help someone hurt. I’ll pay for the Aldi person ahead of me with Ethan watching from the cart. We’ll walk towards the homeless instead of glancing away. I’ll write to our sponsored kids and show Ethan photos of their communities. I’ll ask Ethan to help mama’s headache and cuddle with me quietly.
I want my kids to show respect to all people regardless of the circumstances. So I’ll ask them “Ethan, May I help you with your shoes?” or “Evy May I play with you?”. I’ll demonstrate basic “manners” towards them, even as children.
I want them to have fun and be silly. So I’ll tackle them in the grass, and sing songs around the house, and dance in Trader Joes when our song comes on.
I want them to love health and wellness. So I’ll make food from “real” ingredients when I’m able. I’ll go the farmers market to show them where food comes from and how to support other people. I”ll be outside WITH them doing sandy-muddy-humid-uncomfortable activities as they look back at me with big smiles of joy.
I want them to know Jesus. So I tell them about Jesus during the boring everyday moments. “Mommy look at those clouds”. “Woah! Jesus makes beautiful things! That cloud looks like a dinosaur!”. I tell them stories of Jesus, and people in history that were impacted by Jesus. I attempt to balance natural consequences and grace/second-chances in our everyday parenting moments.
These are the things that we prioritize as a family. There are so many more little ones that overlap too. It’s rarely easy, but with repetition, it feels less-foreign. I’ll make a bunch of mistakes as a mom. I know that. But I hope they still can learn from the good moments. If we do it right, they won’t even KNOW that we taught them these things. It won’t be a memory or a check list or a reward. It’ll just simply be “normal”. They’ll know it’s weird because other people will have opposite responses than the ones they (hopefully) will innately do. And then they become salt, or light, or the last, or fishermen, or whatever example fits them best, to show Jesus to their world.