It’s not easy. And anyone who says it is, is crazy. Because it is hard. It is wearying. It is sometimes mind-numbing. And lots of times it hurts, like crazy, because we love like crazy.
Because we are parents.
And we make sure that our kids have clean clothes to wear, healthy food to eat, a blanket to sleep under and arms to snuggle in. We help with homework, we put magic bandaids on injuries, we listen to daily tattling reports and administrate appropriate justice. And as soon as we sit down to have a complete thought, the kid alarm goes off and suddenly you are needed immediately once again.
And we do it all, because we are parents.
But in those tired moments, in those exhausting times, the thought of adding to that the idea of faith formation and the responsibility of instilling a spiritual legacy in our children can feel overwhelming to the point of utter defeat.
I know this because you’ve written me to tell me so. You’ve shared with me how it takes all you have just to make sure your kids are alive and well, let alone growing in their faith and learning about Jesus. You feel under-equipped, woefully under-resourced, and downright tired and the thought of trying and failing is just too much. And just like you take them to ballet to learn to dance and to school to learn to read, you don’t understand why you can’t just take them to church and let them take care of the spiritual stuff because, frankly, you have enough on your plate.
And I get it. I promise I do. Because I am a parent. In fact, I am a parent that just bribed my 11-year-old to take my 4-year-old to the play ground so I could have just two seconds of peace only to have my living room taken over by my 9-year-old who decided that right now was the perfect time to do some workout videos that include strange, loud songs like, “Wobbly Man” and “Pop-see-ko.”
But I am also a student and a minister and I have had the unique opportunity to look behind the curtain and see the glaring truth; that no matter how hard it is and how tired we are, the reality is that the home IS where a child’s faith IS formed. It’s not where it should happen; it’s where it does happen. Unlike ballet and reading which can be taught in a few hours a week, faith is something that is caught in the ins-and-outs of every day.
It’s caught when your child wakes up too early in the morning and “catches” you reading God’s Word.
It’s caught when you lose your cool over something small and then get down and hug them and say, “I’m so sorry. That was wrong. Can you forgive me?”
It’s caught when you sit down on their bed at the end of the day and say, “Do you have any questions for me about…anything? And…can I pray for you?”
It’s caught in the car when you are singing with K-Love at the top of your lungs, when you stop to help a person in need, when you ask them what they learned about in Sunday school, and when you pray before dinner.
It’s caught in the everyday moments of your life in your home in your family. It’s not a big mystery. Who God is to you is who God is to them. If He is something or someone you deal with on Sunday, well, then that is what He is to them too. But if He shows up, all week long, intentionally or unintentionally, in the very fabric of your everyday, well, that is what He is to them too.
And I am not going to say it’s easy. Because just like every other part of parenting, it is not easy. It is challenging. It is sacrificial. It is hard work.
But like the other parts of parenting, the rewards are beyond worth it!! In fact, unlike the other parts of parenting, the rewards don’t end at clean rooms, healthy kids, dancers and readers; they extend deep into hearts and for all eternity.
And we do it. Because WE ARE PARENTS.
“Write these commandments that I’ve given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night.” (Deut. 6:6-8)
About the author
Christina Embree is wife to Pastor Luke, mom to three wonderful kids, and family minister at Nicholasville UMC. She is passionate about seeing churches partnering with families to encourage faith formation at home and equipping parents to disciple their kids in the faith. Currently studying Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at ChildrensMinistryBlog.com.