Tonight was one of “those” nights. I’m sure your family has them too. Nights where you are so tired that even the niceties of normal life seem arduous and exhausting. As we gathered around the dinner table and began our suppertime ritual, I mustered up the words, “So, everyone, what was your high today?”
I was met with a collective groan.
Yup, that’s right. A groan. No matter that mom is a blogger for family ministry. No matter that discipleship in the home is her favorite battlecry. No matter that dinners together top her list of important times for Faith Talks and God Moments. Tonight, even the thought of trying to find those “highs and lows” to spark on conversation felt like a chore.
And so…we didn’t do it.
We didn’t ask the questions. We didn’t have the conversation.
We didn’t do it “right”.
We actually ended up laughing over some ridiculous thing someone said and discussed how good the grilled chicken was and quibbled over whose turn it was to do the dishes and then went our separate ways with nary an intentional word about God or church or the Bible or any of that important stuff I’m always encouraging you to do.
I’m sharing all this because I want you to know that I am not some parenting-genius extraordinaire. Far from it. If you don’t believe me, ask my kids.
As much as I love and celebrate intergenerational worship, yesterday, I left my kids home for our church’s praise and prayer night.
The other day, I definitely did not remember to pray for my kids before sending them off to school because the morning was, well, one of “those” mornings.
Oh, friends, as much as I want to be intentional in my parenting, sometimes I’m more accidental.
Sometimes, life crowds out the best of intentions and I’m left thinking, “Hmm, really missed the mark on that one.” But I was reminded this week about a few crucial things; things that when I consider the larger scope of life take on a much more significant role than my frequent missteps.
Keeping Christ at the center is important, but letting Him infiltrate everything is life-changing.
I heard at least three sermons this week on keeping Christ at that center. And I affirm every one of them. But Christ needs to be more than just the center of our lives and our home; He needs to permeate every space, even the tired, weary, exhausted space.
The reality is, our spirit may be willing when it comes to intentional parenting, but our flesh may be weak sometimes. But if Christ is in each space, even in the tired moments, his Spirit of peace and rest can be found. That may mean you forego some things, but it doesn’t mean you neglect Jesus.
Welcoming Jesus into your home, doesn’t necessarily mean He’s welcome in your everyday.
We’ve all heard the story of Mary and Martha. Martha invites Jesus into her home but is too busy and distracted by so many things, that she doesn’t even spend any time with him. Meanwhile her sister is hanging on His every word, spending time with their guest and learning from His teachings. Martha gets irritated by this and offhandedly mentions it to Jesus (ahem) and Jesus gently shares with her that Mary has chosen wisely and He won’t take that away from her.
Here’s the difference – Martha invited Jesus into her house; Mary invited Jesus into her life. We can do the same. We can “Christianize” our home, monitor our media, prominently display Scriptures and Bibles, and welcome Jesus into our house.
But He wants more.
He wants welcomed into the nitty gritty of the every day. He wants to be there when we are too tired to talk and when we are too sad to laugh. He wants us to be with Him and He wants to be with us.
It’s more than just welcoming Him to a space. We need to welcome Him into every area of our life.
It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Learn from the journey.
Let’s be realistic. This day, tonight’s “less-than-intentional” dinner conversation and that morning when I forgot to pray and that church service that my kids missed…those things are not going to make-or-break us. They’re just not. My kids aren’t going to look back and say, “Yeah but that one time you forgot to pray…that was what did me in.”
The journey is a lot longer than a day.
Give yourself some grace and grasp the opportunity tomorrow.
If you read this blog at all, you know I am passionate about parents discipling their kids in the faith and kids learning to worship in the larger community. And it’s not because I am an expert in the field. I’m still learning too. It’s because I am convinced that the result of those things done with intention and purpose will leave lasting impressions on our kids of God’s love.
But I’m also passionate about this: God is bigger than our moments, stronger than our greatest weakness, and more gracious than we could ever deserve…and He loves our kids even more than we do.
So when we have one of “those” nights or “those” mornings or even “those” days, we can lean into Him and know, He’s got this.
Rest in His grace. And trust in His love.
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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, Seedbed, and D6 Family.