My three year old loves to help in the kitchen, like most do, so I video her from time to time so that I can remember these moments. Sometimes I watch them, and when I do I notice the way she likes to taste everything, how she splatters milk out of the blender, how she loves to feel the oats before we mix them with anything, but what I notice most is her watching me. Her little eyes watch my face. My reaction to her crying baby brother. My reaction to her two older squabbling siblings. My reaction to her accidental spilled mess. She’s always watching me. They all are.
Every single time I respond, whether my response is negative or positive, encouraging or discouraging, I am shaping who they are. And how I respond is how I am seeing them respond to their own circumstances and to others. Sure, they have their own ways of responding too, but I have an over-arching sense of how the way I act is shaping them. Shaping their character. Their love for others. Their self-control. It makes me re-evaluate. Am I responding as I should? Am I responding in ways that will show them how to be gentle, how to remain calm in the face of frustration, how to love others well? Not always. It is sobering and feels heavy with responsibility.
But then, God gently reminds me all I have to do is love HIM well and the rest will follow. If I am living to please him it will shape them well. When I am responding in ways that God has asked of me in His Word, then their little eyes will be filled with His truth and goodness. And when I fail, and where I do still leave scratchy corners, he will round them out as they enter into a relationship with him themselves. The MOST important thing I can do for my children is to put God first in my life. To love him, know him, and obey him. It is who we are, the depth of our character, and the way we love others that we will impart to our children. We cannot impart that which we do not have. So we begin with ourselves and the relationship we have with Christ.
Our lives are made of moments. Like grains of sand make up a beach, our daily moments make up our lives. And our lives are what speak to our children. It’s not one or two big things that speak to them. It is our daily moments. Our daily reactions. Our endless supply of love for them that can only come from an endless supply of love from our Father. A few grains of sand may be hard, dark, or pebbly, but if most of them are soft, white, and smooth that is what the beach will be made up of, and what you will see when you look at it. If our daily moments are made up of irritability, breaths of annoyance, and selfish desires to do what we want to do, then that very well may be what we see when we look at our children. But if our daily moments are made up of love, laughter, songs of praise, encouragement, serving them joyfully, and open arms, then that very well may be what we see when we look at them. I pray that the Lord keeps me true to him so I can see the latter.
“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity.” Ephesians 5:15-16