Sometimes I am certain that God gave me children so that I could hear His voice come through in my interactions with them. I can’t begin to tell you how often this scene plays out. I will be explaining something to one of my children – soothing one, encouraging another, teaching the third – and suddenly realize that the message I’m delivering is the very one I need to hear myself! Or my child will say something to me – sweetly, off-handedly, in child language and cadence – and I’ll be stopped in my tracks by the impact of the lesson buried within her words. It reminds me that this parenting business places us on Holy Ground.
I first noticed this when my children were tiny and I’d see an accident waiting to unfold, with just enough time for me to intervene and prevent it. Picture a one year old walking toward a table, thinking he could fit under it, while I could see that one little forehead was about to collide with a sturdy piece of wood. As I crossed the room, and pressed gently down on his hair, coaxing him to bend his knees and duck under the table, he was barely aware of my presence. He just complied, and emerged safely from the other side, toddling onward. I wondered to myself how many times God had done the same for me. How often had He seen me walking into a mess and gently prompted me to avoid it? How often had I acquiesced? How often had I not?
As my children grow older, my teaching is becoming more verbal. My oldest daughter and I now routinely have long conversations about her life. They are the very best part of being a mom, as far as I’m concerned. I relish the chance to see her mind grapple with fear, perfectionism, friendships, achievement, creativity, and love. It’s a privilege to be her witness and sometimes her guide. As she shares and asks questions, and I answer with stories from my day or from my past, digging deep into my own vulnerability to forge a connection with her, I know she feels deeply loved.
It comes as no surprise to me that Jesus taught in parables. The beloved collection of stories used to illustrate his teachings helps us better understand them. As parents, we follow suit and use stories to illustrate important lessons to our children – lessons we know will serve them well. We teach our truth, and the stories keep us relatable. They show we’ve been there. They say “I get it. I really do understand your world.”
As adults, we want just as desperately to be understood. We want to believe that someone has the answers. Yet sometimes, while the story to help a child rises readily to our lips, the one we need to hear ourselves remains buried deep within.
So try this. Listen to yourself when you are parenting. The wisdom you share may be just what your own spirit needs to hear.
And listen to your children. Their words may be simple, but they will find their way straight into your heart if you open it to them.
This sacred exchange of ideas, of words, of stories, of trust, of love – it’s the good stuff.
Shoes off. This is Holy Ground.