When I was a little girl, I developed a habit of pointing at things. This drove my mother mad! She was incessantly putting my hand down and reminding me that it is rude to point. I remember being confused by her insistence, as I just wanted to make sure she saw what was so important to me.
Years later, when I was a young mother myself, I began to point my children in the ways I wanted them to behave. I taught them the standard things like: it’s rude to point, don't interrupt, elbows off the table, say please and thank you, and all the other standard motherly advice one thinks of teaching well mannered children.
As my boys grew, the ways I pointed them took on a much more serious nature. The lessons included warnings about peer pressure, drugs, self harm, premarital sex, and the importance of being a young man of integrity.
I don’t believe I was wrong in any of the advice I gave them. Where I did go wrong though, was in the direction I pointed them. Even from the time they were toddlers learning table manners, I can look back and see that my training was more about me than them. I wanted other people to look at my well behaved kids and think I was a good mom. This prideful attitude wasn’t one I really considered to be a big problem, because don’t all “good” parents instruct their kids in these life basics? In my mind, I really was just being the good mom I wanted everyone to believe I was.
Looking back, I can see now that I was not, in fact, pointing them in the right direction. The reason I gave them for all of the things I expected of them was really, “because I said so.” And in wielding that control, every expectation they didn’t meet became a personal affront to my reputation and idea of control. It also taught them nothing about the why behind everything they really did need to know.
Fast forward to today. I am now a grandmother of two. I am a much more mature Christian, having grown in my faith by some life circumstances that nothing short of the redeeming work of Jesus could carry me through. I now operate in faith over fear. As I reflect on my parenting, I see so clearly now that I was again pointing, but not in the right direction. Just as when I was a little girl and pointing to things that I felt were important for someone else to see, I now want to only point in one direction. Now, that direction has nothing to do with me and everything to do with Jesus.
All of the things we want our children, and ourselves, to be can be summed up in pointing people to Christ. The why behind every choice we want our children to make is, how does that decision reflect the character of Jesus in their life? How are we reflecting that character in ours?
I once heard that when people are trained to detect counterfeit currency, they don’t look at the counterfeiting options. They become intimately aware of the original. The same applies in showing our children Jesus. We don’t need a list of rules, of do’s and don’ts. We need to immerse them in the Word. John 1:1 tells us that, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”. And in John 1:14, we learn that, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” We need to share that glory with our children. Teach them the big picture of following Jesus, to be rooted and grounded in their faith, and how that shapes our life choices.
And when they make the wrong choice, and they will, just like we do, we take them back to the Word. To the Son of God, full of grace and truth. To the Holy Spirit that gives us the power of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control that we see in Galatians 5:22-23.
We remind them of the words of Mark in chapter 12:30-31 where he says, “Love the Lord your God will all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength" and to "Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than [this].”
We teach them repentance and that when we repent, God is faithful and just to forgive us. He will set us back on the path of righteousness. He will use our weakness to become our strength.
You see, the journey of our children is not about us. It is about how we point them to the Father. How we help them develop a relationship with Him, be intimately aware of Him through the Word and through prayer. When we remove ourselves and our pride and ego from them, it allows freedom to love them through it all without fear. We place them in the very capable hands of their Heavenly Father and continue to point them back to Him every chance we get.
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Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus, in Ephesians 2:10: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Isn’t that amazing? As a child of God, good works are prepared ahead of time for us!
“The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup. You hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places. Indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance” Psalm 16:5-6. So, my friend, when it looks hopeless and it feels like all is lost, He says it is not. He holds our lines strong and straight. Let’s raise a hallelujah and celebrate our beautiful inheritance in Jesus!