My kids have seen all sides of me, and by that, I mean all sides. The good, the bad, and the ugly. In that, they’ve also had front row seats to watching me muddle through times of difficulty, of trial, grief, turmoil, and all the other adjectives that describe… well, the year 2020.
I was struck the other night with the question that nailed me between the eyes. You know that deep, life-impacting question that waits until 11pm to raise its seriousness and keep you awake for the rest of the night?
How will my children look back on my example of faith and tenacity during these uncertain times in which we’re living?
Have I set an example that will impact their own walk of faith? Do they see me running to Jesus or running to Google for answers? Do they witness the wringing of my hands in anxious fretting, CNN blaring in the background while I pace, quadruple-masked and Hazmat suit on when I go grocery shopping? Or, do they witness a responsible adult facing each situation as its own, and laying the large, uncontrollable ones at the feet of an almighty God?
If today is this bad, what will it be like in twenty years, when my daughter hits her thirties and looks at her own child and worries for their future? What will that adult version of my daughter do with her own thoughts and fears and what filter will I have taught her to funnel them through?
I wish there was an easy 5-step process to the perfect example of resilience and faith. I wish I could ensure that my children will embrace the faith of our fathers and charge relentlessly toward Christ with a passion that cannot be quenched no matter the fires they must run through.
This Scripture has become my starting point of reference in the quest to teach my children courage, stick-to-it-tiveness (that’s my made up word for the day), and faith:
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:4-9
So let’s dissect this step-by-step instruction and see if maybe there is a process to exampling these character traits for our children.
1. Love the Lord Your God with All Your Heart... Soul... and Might
It sounds pretty basic. Rudimentary, really. But pause for a moment. Break it down into even a simplistic depth. ALL your heart. ALL your soul. ALL your might. I’m reminded of a television show I watched recently where a guy was hanging for dear life off the edge of a precipice, one hand gripping the edge.
His muscles bulged. His blood vessels looked ready to explode. His face was ferocious in his concentration to stay alive.
Is that how we are to love God? With the ferocity of survival? ALL. Everything. Every ounce of... well, everything? And if that is how we love God, then how will our children then see our actions and our faith? Our approach will be singular. A clinging for dear life to the One who holds every ounce of our devotion.
I think that’s a pretty good, but pretty hefty, first step.
2. Teach Them Diligently
Okay. Whew. Pause for breath. This one is easier. Easy, really. We teach our children what we know. We extend to them the Spiritual education that God has given us through His Word. We teach them diligently... relentlessly... consistently... diligently... okay, maybe it’s not so easy.
With this, I’m reminded of the time I hooked up my new essential oil diffuser for the first time. I put in quite a few drops of peppermint, because you can never have too much peppermint. Our eyes and noses were burning. It infused every pore of our home. Every breath, every molecule. The peppermint was diligent in its persistence to achieve maximum potency in our house.
While the peppermint didn’t make me particularly popular, it did accomplish one thing in this little illustration. It taught me what true diligence is. It’s never ceasing. Never giving up. Infusing Jesus into every part of my being.
3. Talk, Walk, Lie, and Rise
This goes with diligence and then ups it one. It brings a measurement to what diligent teaching is. It’s all the time. It’s consistent. Consistency is a type of regularity. Something predictable, really, a routine. Loving the Lord our God and teaching that with a diligent routine. That’s where we’ve arrived by step number three.
Diligence is to me, perfectly exemplified by the military. I was raised in a family of Army veterans, and one thing I could always count on was their diligence. They were and are precise in habit and the military life is a part of their blood. Their DNA. You don’t separate a Veteran from their past or present rank. They simply are the military.
As parents, we simply must be what we believe. At all times.
4. Bind Them and Write Them
This is an essential part to exemplifying resilience and faith to our children. It’s the record keeping, per se, the journaling and diary making part of our faith. This is the part where what we believe and what we do and what we say, becomes permanently tattooed into the walls of our Spiritual house.
It’s a marking. It’s a claiming, publicly and privately, and the leaving of our legacy for our children, and for their children.
An elderly man in a nursing home I visited frequently showed me his tattoos. One arm was inked from his Korean war Navy days, and the other arm heralded names of an old girlfriend, Popeye, and a few other words we’ll just leave unsaid. Those, he’d tried to remove. Have you ever seen the removal of a tattoo from the human body? Have a stiff stomach if you look it up.
Tattoos are meant to last. Forever. To be erasable symbols and forever definitions of who that person is.
Is your resilience, your faith, your love for the Lord erasable? When your children watch you, does every part of you scream your ambition to seek the face of God and in that, with all humility, recognize the futility of our own panderings and the hierarchy that sets Him on the throne of our families?
In retrospect, I think that Scripture actually may give us a checklist of sorts, as to how to example our walk of faith to our children. Yes, the fruits of the Spirit, the expressions of gratefulness and thanksgiving, the attitudes of service and good deeds, are all a part of our life.
But the root, the very essence, of who we are starts deep in the well of our souls. It becomes the blood in our Spiritual veins that keeps us alive and without it, we would plummet.
This is the legacy our children should see--must see--if we are to keep faith alive. The Lord our God is one. He exists. We love the Lord our God, but not just in words or deeds, but with all of our heart, our soul, and our minds. We are diligent in teaching this to our children, in impressing on them the truth of our faith and the God who we serve.
We do this while we walk, and talk, and sleep, and wake up. It is forefront in our words, and spices our actions. And, we write them on our homes by binding them to ourselves. The truths and the power of the Word of God.
Maybe it’s not simple, but it’s there. That is how we example resilience and faith to our children. Love the Lord our God with . . . everything that is in you. It’s a hefty weight to bear, as a parent, and I believe that is also where the grace of God comes in, as well as His strength.
In these uncertain days, we need to run to Him with more urgency than anything else. As we enter the holidays, we can incorporate a spirit of thankfulness, pointing out the works He has done and the confirmation of His existence in nature, in history, and in our story.
We can remind our loved ones of the birth of Hope and Salvation as Christmas knocks on our door. And most of all, we can live--simply live--in the fullness of the life which Christ has called us to, as little eyes watch us. Through the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/jacoblund
Jaime Jo Wright is the winner of the Carol, Daphne du Maurier, and INSPY Awards. She's also the Publishers Weekly and ECPA bestselling author of three novellas. The Christy Award-Winning author of “The House on Foster Hill”, Jaime Jo Wright resides in the hills of Wisconsin writing suspenseful mysteries stained with history's secrets. Jaime lives in dreamland, exists in reality, and invites you to join her adventures at jaimewrightbooks.com!