Faith plays an important role in every aspect of life. You may have faith in yourself, money, your parents or God. Each of us sees the world through a specific lens that is impacted by your specific belief system.
Over the years I’ve found my faith in God has supported my ability to be the best parent I can be – to my children and to myself. That sounds a bit nuts – being the best parent I can to myself – but the truth of the matter is that once your parents have passed away, who becomes your voice of advice and accountability?
For a season in life you may be blessed with the wise words of a mentor or good friend. And it’s crucial to honor those words and enjoy them while you can since they often do not stay around forever.
So, faith does play a role in parenting your children and being accountable to yourself – or being your own parent.
Over the years the role Jesus has played in my own life has ebbed and flowed. He was always a fixture – but I was not always a willing participant or listener. In the times I specifically went against His will the price I paid was dear. In the times I didn’t, the reward was not always immediately evident.
God tells us to train up a child in the way they should go and when he grows up he won’t move from the path (Prov 22:6). Sometimes, as parents we don’t live long enough to see our children get back on the path. My mom and dad raised me and my sister in the church. That was an expression when I was growing up – “raised in the church.”
She would read us Bible stories, take us to Sunday school and later we attended the main service together. We went to a small Orthodox church where our family had our “usual” pew – second from the front on the left. My mom’s best friend sat on the pew in front of us and I can’t remember who sat behind.
The service was always the same – the same prayers, same songs and some chants – except for the sermon, which may have been given in Greek, Arabic or English. But, in any case, the message was not understandable. In fact, I can’t remember the gist of any of the messages from the church or what the priest ever said.
My childhood didn’t lend itself to a personal relationship with Jesus.
But, according to the Bible, that’s exactly what God wants with us – a personal relationship, time spent, loving communication, obedience to our ultimate Father.
I didn’t have an understanding of what any of it meant until years after I was married and we had three children. It was then we began attending a new church in a new town and made new friends. Those relationships were crucial – just as the relationships I have with the people I know today are vital to my faith walk.
As a parent, I encourage my children to seek out the resources they need in order to grow and attain their goals – college classes, networking, information, job interviews, and strong advice.
But . . . I didn’t seek out the resources I needed to find Jesus.
Instead, I was blessed to have them come to me – at least initially. In the beginning I didn’t even know what I needed or had to have in order to grow. Today, those requirements are more evident and how to get them has become easier.
It is the story of a growing child – in the beginning your parents’ guide you and move you forward. As you grow and mature more is expected from you – you’ve learned to walk, now let’s learn to run. Jesus slowly and patiently brings you exactly what you need when you need it – it’s your job to pay attention and learn from the experiences.
As a new parent, the twins took the brunt of my inexperience – as first children do in any family. My second son enjoyed a bit more freedom and my last daughter has more. Is this a function of their personality or my experience, or a combination of both?
In my family there are five rules the children never break – or are never SUPPOSED to break. Anything else if fair game. The children spent hours debating whether what they said or did really broke one of those rules or not. But those rules were far reaching and often covered every infraction that should be covered.
Without understanding what I was doing, I had happened upon some of the same rules our heavenly Father asks of His children. These rules bind the actions and thoughts of my children and their mother. If I didn’t obey my own rules, then there were consequences as well.
What good were the rules if the whole family didn’t follow them?
Today my youngest daughter has the benefit of being the last in a line of four to come under my authority and I have the benefit of years of parenting to know how to exercise that authority so my daughter becomes a strong woman and not just able to follow the rules.
And, isn’t that the intent of our Father? To teach His children to control their world in a way that shows Him respect and honor, while enjoying the rewards and blessings in our lives?
That is what I want for my children – for them to control their world and to take authority over their own lives in a way that honors and respects God and their mother. In this way they produce a legacy they can pass down to the next generation and encourage others to live a life full of blessings and rewards gained through work and obedience.
Those are the best types of rewards in life – the ones you work to achieve.