Sunday, December 8, 2013

Asking the Wrong Question

Becoming Mommy forces you to think about issues you haven't been confronted with since your own childhood but with the stakes raised to a whole new parental level.  You are now fully responsible for every aspect of raising another little human.  Suddenly you are faced with difficult questions that everyone else on the planet seems to have a very opinionated answer for.  It's hard to have open discussions with people because they just jump on their soapbox and rant and rave.  So how is a Mommy to navigate these turbulent waters, figure out how to parent, and come out the other side with more than just a barely functioning child?

I'm learning that there are many times where I just have to be like Peter- disregard everything else, plant my eyes firmly on Jesus, jump out of the boat with both feet and start walking, trusting Jesus to grab hold of me when I get distracted and begin to sink (Matthew 14:22-33).

You know you this is how you pictured it in your head.

Well, one turbulent parenting topic that's been weighing heavily on me for a long time is the holidays and the overwhelming monstrosities they have become.  My kiddos are still very young (2 and 2.5), but I've been thinking about this since they were just little hopes in my heart.  And I've had plenty of time to think about it since I became a parent later than most of my friends.  So I've been an avid watcher of everyone's experiences.

My biggest issue with pretty much every holiday is they now promote buying a ridiculous amount of stuff, blowing budgets, caving into what everyone else is doing, stress, self indulgence, guilt and feeling empty when it's over.  How is that good for us OR our kids?

It's not.

Since we're closing in on Christmas, one of the biggies, let's go there.  My first big dilemma, was Santa or no Santa?  I've heard all the debates, rationalizations and arguments on both sides.  When deciding what we should do in our house, that topic and discussion led to many, MANY more discussions, no longer just about Santa but about all the other issues that surround Christmas as well.

Last year right after Christmas, a friend of mind posted a simple question on Facebook.  She said something to the effect of "How do you talk to a child about Christmas without them only talking about the presents they received?"  I immediately thought of several Jesus specific questions to ask or things to do with our kids leading up to Christmas that might help.  People, I was TORN APART in the comments that followed.  It made me angry at first, but that anger quickly turned to sadness as I was so disheartened to hear these moms' responses.  At first I thought, maybe I really don't know anything because my kids are still so young.  But after dwelling on the topic, praying about it and dwelling some more, I realized that these poor parents missed some great opportunities to teach and grow their kids and themselves.

How do children learn the best?  How do adults learn the best?  By doing.  And by doing repeatedly.  If I want my kids to learn about Jesus Christ at Christmas time (or any and every time of the year), how should I go about doing that?  I need to show them.  I lead them by example.  Then I should invite them to join me and teach them to do the same.

If we are to be an example of Christ to our children, then we should obviously look to His example.  What kind of example did He set for us?  One of love (John 15:12-13), humility (Phil. 2:6-8), serving (John 13:5), sacrifice (John 19:30), teaching (John 13:12-15), obedience (Matt. 26:39), and prayer (Luke 22:45-46) to name just a few.  Pretty much the complete opposite of all those things I mentioned that the holidays are teaching us.

So I realize now that I had been asking myself the wrong question all this time- to have Santa or not to have Santa?  The right question is: How do I show my children who Jesus is?

Why is it so important to answer this question?  There are many reasons, but for a parent, here's a biggie:
"Most statistics say that 80-90% of students who grew up in church are leaving the church within two years after they graduate high school."
Friends, showing up on Sunday and sitting through a sermon or Sunday school class is not going to show our kids who Jesus is and why He is so important.  It is something they need to SEE and DO up close and personal, in a very real and tangible way on a regular basis in order to learn.  We can't be scared or shy away from having or initiating a discussion about Jesus.  Otherwise, Jesus is just a story in book, a baby in a manger and something to talk about in a particular building once a week.  After all, they are doing sports, music, school, etc. on a daily basis, discussing those activities ALL. THE. TIME.

I'm working on another post to help answer the question: How do I show my children who Jesus is?  In the process, I hope it helps us focus on Jesus this Christmas, begins to open our kids' eyes to all that Jesus is, and that it also grows and strengthens us as parents and followers of Christ.

Come on parents, let's set the example.

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