“Be the person you want your kids to become.”
Last night I was listening to a training in which the speaker shared her personal journey which included the “aha” moment for her in which she realized that she feared her kids would ‘turn out like her.’ It got me thinking and asking myself if I have that fear. Those words up there popped into my head.
I began to think- how DO I want my daughters to turn out? I want them to be joyful, I want them to be brave, I want them to try new things and not be afraid of failure, I want them to know the truth and stand up for the truth, I want them to care about others and to have deep relationships and to be kind and generous. I want them to rest in their significance that comes from being made by God and for God and to not struggle with performance. I want them to be free from the love of applause and instead to just love people. I want them to be honest and strong and gentle and to exercise those things in wisdom. I want them to laugh, laugh at themselves, laugh at circumstances, and all the funny and silly moments that life provides. Yet I also want them to be serious and to understand the treasure that life is, the hope that we have, and to alleviate suffering where they can.
These things I want for my girls pretty much paint the picture of a perfect person. I realize that. Really, when I stop and think about it, they paint the picture of Jesus.
These girls are, God willing, going to be in my house and around me for the next 16-18 years. I will spend more time with them most likely, than anyone else in their lives. While of course God works in numerous ways and does as He pleases, from a practical stand point, the person those girls are most likely going to turn out to be the most like, is me. And I am far from Jesus.
Yet as I was considering all these things I thought of those words of the apostle Paul who had the audacity to say “in all these things imitate me as I imitate Christ.” And he must have really meant it because he actually said it more than once (1 Cor 4:16 and 1 Cor 11:1). Paul was a lot of things but two things he wasn’t:
Paul was human just like me. He had weaknesses and fears and moments of wishing he were dead and in heaven rather than dealing with the hardships of life any longer.
He was a guy who readily admitted he wasn’t a great orator, that he was the least of the apostles, that he was still incomplete. Yet he could say ‘imitate me.’ He could say that because he knew that despite his sin and despite his weaknesses, the pattern of his life was to imitate Jesus.
It occurred to me that these thoughts could be really heavy. I could take on a burden too heavy for me to bear. My kids are their own people. They will make their own decisions, they will have their own opinions; no amount of perfect living will MAKE them be like me OR like Jesus. If there’s any doubt about that all I need to do is look at the very Gospel story in which people DID have direct access to Jesus himself and His influence and teaching.
He was rejected among men. He was crucified. His own followers ran away from Him and often misunderstood Him. So I don’t say all this to put an undue burden on myself or any other parent to live perfectly lest their children turn out with fears or failures.
When I thought of these things it was encouraging. It encourages me to face my weaknesses and give them to God. It encourages me to go to Him for wisdom and courage. It encourages me to think about the things I’ve held back from for fear of failure. It encourages me to think about the ways in which I put myself first over others when I don’t need to. It encourages me to think about the way I treat my body and how I want my girls to treat their bodies. It encourages me to humble myself before God because I CAN’T be perfect. But I can keep in an onward direction of imitating Christ, through the strength of God.
There’s been a meme going around the last couple days saying something to the affect of “we should be less concerned with whether or not our kids are academic stars and more concerned with whether or not they sit with the kid sitting by himself in the cafeteria.”
While I don’t know how many of us in the US are overly concerned about our kids being academic stars, I do think we are overly concerned about them being stars in general- of the football team, of the talent show, of some category we can find where they will be ‘successful.’ We look at our kids’ long fingers and say “she’s going to be a concert pianist!” We see them toddle around with a basketball and talk about their future in the NBA. We see them bang a pot and talk about how they’ll be a drummer- and we don’t picture them in the marching band, we picture them on a stage with a crowd of fans around them.
Will I model for my daughters a desire to be stars? Or will I model for my daughters a delight in service? Will my daughters believe, as I did for so long, that actions unnoticed don’t matter? Will my daughters be afraid, as I was for so long, to set big crazy goals because they might fail? Will they fear what others think about them? Will I model for them that we care about people deeply, but we care about the Lord’s opinion of us primarily?
Dear Lord, may I become the person I hope my kids will be. I can not be that in and of myself. These words come to mind:
“Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior”
(From Hillsong United, Oceans)