Raising kids is hard. I worry constantly that i will mess them up somehow. And i am certain they will in some way, be a little messed up just like the rest of us. I look back on my own childhood and can pin point one particular, consistent thing my mother did that ended up shaping the way i saw myself, and what drove my decisions as an adult. Who knew something as little and minute as picking out your own clothes (or not picking them out) as a child could help (or hinder) your view of yourself, and could influence your decision making skills as an adult? Even as it pertains to God?
I sometimes catch myself wanting to control what my kids wear or how they do their hair, because growing up, that’s how i was raised. I do want to make sure they don’t walk out of the house looking like bait, but sometimes my reasoning is selfish. I think more of what others may think than how my daughter feels about her selection that she put so much thought into. Even if there is nothing inappropriate about it.
Up until the last few years, my decisions-not just with attire- were driven by how people might possibly perceive something. For example, if i didn’t go to church one Sunday, or two Sundays, I would feel guilty. But the guilt was not for missing the message spoken that day. It was for not punching my time card at the door, or for not getting the “I-see-you attendance check mark”. I would just hope no one noticed. I would be concerned that they would question my salvation or my relationship with God. Doesn’t that sound so stupid? How is that a good judge of heart? It was almost as if church came before God. Imagine that.
That is terrible.
Especially because that time would typically be spent hanging out with my family watching one of the kids at their soccer games, or recovering from a long week or month. Sometimes, we just don’t feel like going anywhere. Even if i listened to the pod cast, I would still feel guilty for not planting my hiney in a chair in a row. So dumb. No one should feel guilty for spending time with their family. I do believe church is important, to gather together as the bible says we should. But it was never meant to turn into a country club. And it is in no way an accurate representation of someones faith.
This way of thinking is the bi-product of being conditioned to certain exterior expectations. You see how they can go on to shape almost everything?
Lord I hope I don’t instill these into my kids.
We had a very close family friend who was a strawberry farmer. Sometimes we would visit him in the fields and walk around and pick berries. One year we had an obnoxious amount rain. Too much rain is not good for anything, especially strawberries. I remember picking the biggest strawberry i had ever seen. It was huge, bright red, and perfect. But only on the outside. I bit into it, and immediately spewed it out. It was disgusting. It was like biting into textured water. I’ll never be the same. Those were some nasty berries.
Expectation only gives you exterior.
The sooner we can sink this in the better.
So as a mom of two very independent children, I have to catch myself if I find my words to be from exterior expectations.
If my daughter wants to crimp her hair 80s style for her school pictures, I let her. As much as I want to be like…”ummm maybe its not the best time”, I let her. Because that’s her style. And some day we will look back on that picture and see exactly who she was and she can be proud of that. Plus we can laugh. Really hard.
If my son wants to dress like superman to go eat at Outback, I let him. As much as I want to say..”ummm that’s probably not appropriate to wear at the table”, I let him. Because when he walks in that restaurant, he will let everyone know who he is. And he does not care how “inappropriate” it may be. If he feel confidence in himself, he will one day become someone else’s superman.
If i approve their choices, aside from my own expectant opinions, they will grow up to be confident in themselves and who they are. Because they know I value them.
Now, that’s not to say I would approve bad choices for the sake of their independence. But they do have to learn consequence. I cannot always protect them from that. Let them screw up. Let them decide not to study- and fail a test. I wouldn’t approve of their choice not to study, but i would make sure they knew it would cost them.
The more I learn of who God is and what He thinks of us, the less I care about what people think of me. I’m not sure at what point in history, we started filling in between the lines of scripture with shallow rules and expectations, but it has almost overshadowed the words that truly matter. It has definitely corrupted them. Entire churches are erected under the laws of expectation rather than under the direction of God. Doctrine is being created and taught under a trend, rather than under the Word of God. This is straight Nasty Berries.
If we are not careful, we will miss the mark. We will miss the entire point. But it starts in the Word and it starts at home. It starts with what we teach our kids to value, and whose opinion matters and whose doesn’t. In my house, we value time together. Because we have been taught how valuable time is, and how little of it we have. We have been taught how special we are to God, and how quality time together influences the rest of our lives and our walk with Him.
This weekend there will be the highest attendance in church than any other day of the year, besides Mother’s Day.
Expectation and Guilt.
Do we really think people are showing up by the masses because they suddenly want to hear from God and get their lives together? I don’t think so. You don’t schedule hearing from God. “Hey God, i’d love to hear what you have to say, how does Easter Sunday at 9am sound? Great, see you then”. Make sure you go get a new expensive outfit, because you know, God cares about that, especially if you plan to kneel at the altar.
Lord, help us to raise kid who bear fruit on the inside and not just when its expected. Don’t let me raise nasty berries.