Despite my best attempts, we struggle committing to a formal Christian education time or daily devotion in our house of chaos. I couldn’t quite put my finger on exactly why, but it was likely the four busy, beautiful daughters I call my own. They each bring their own unique strengths and needs to our family, and when they all mash together, it creates a lovely mess. Trying to create space for all six of us to learn more about our faith appeared to be more and more of an exercise in futility with each passing day.
For the season of Advent, I tried desperately to incorporate a scheduled time of devotion each day. We felt it was important not to rely on Sunday school alone for our children’s religious education. We also wanted to give the them a foundation so they would know that they come from a home with its values based in God’s Word. Advent is a season all about slowing down, and if we couldn’t do it then, I felt we were officially a lost cause.
Well, everyone ended up in tears when I attempted our family devotion in that slow season, which is usually anything but. There were comments made about how some sisters are way too immature and others are too bossy, and it was clear that God’s loving words weren’t going to be absorbed as I had hoped. I put that beautiful book back up on the shelf for another time, maybe when they’re older and can make it more than five minutes without hurling an insult. Even as I type that, I worry that might be unlikely.
In the new calendar year, I resorted to asking my girls, at various times of the day, “Where do you see God working in our world?” It was a simple question, but so far in my parenting journey, it’s the only thing I’ve come up with that reaches each of my children at their current spiritual and intellectual levels. The responses I received varied from the trite (“I see God at work because the sky is beautiful and my Mommy loves me.”) to the profound (“I felt Jesus’ love when my friend was nice to me when I didn’t deserve it”).
As is typical with many aspects of parenting, the heart that was changed the most through this exercise was my own. In attempts to guide my children in this process of seeing God at work in the world around us, I saw the greatest shift in my own perspective, as I absorbed their childlike faith. As a Type A, list building, dependent on quantifiable accomplishments mother, I always thought I served God best when I met a goal. Throughout my decade as a parent, I’ve been reminded, all too often, that I will not be able to live up to my own expectations. One of the toughest realizations I’ve come to is that my children will inadvertently sabotage any and all of my Type A attempts at winning God’s approval. Toddlers do not make reaching your goals an easy process!
Based on the responses I received for my question, I started to gain glimpses of Jesus in my girls, especially when we weren’t at our best. I saw a loving hand extended to a sister in time out. I saw them putting others first, even when it meant giving up what they really wanted to do at that moment. And I saw them give God’s love back to my husband and me, by volunteering for extra chores and anticipating when we might need an extra hand cooking dinner.
Through my daughters’ actions in this simple exercise, I received the poignant reminder that God’s grace isn’t contingent on our ability to sit still and engage in a family devotion or Bible story. It isn’t based on our accomplishments, our to-do list, or how successful our strides are for His Kingdom on Earth. God’s love is freely given to us all, whether we deserve it or not, each and every day.
And when we accept God’s grace, or are reminded of it by our children, we really will find Jesus all around us.
What simple questions lead to profound conversations in your household?
[Image credit: property of Public Domain via Pexels.]
FYI the whole article isn’t shown on this blog post. The intro paragraphs in the email (Despite my best attempts, we struggle committing to a…) are missing from this webpage. Thanks!
Allison Sandlin Liles says
Thanks, Emily! I noticed the same thing this morning and am not entirely sure why it’s happening. We’re trying to resolve it though!