The point of this series is to discuss a few profound truths God has taught me in the midst of the mundane. Times when I am going along minding my own business, being a wife, a mom and a laundry-doer—when BAM!!!—God drops a spiritual truth into my heart. A truth that proves to change the course of my life completely. Ordinary moments/extraordinary truth. I hope in this series you will discover God Practically Speaking into your life, too.
More than any single thing in this world, I want to see my children serve God all the days of their lives and live out the purpose for which God created them. I’m not exaggerating. Nothing even holds a close second place to that desire.
(Well, maybe going back to the beach in this picture…that would be my second desire.)
And because I have the Spiritual Gift of Planning, and incessantly plan every detail of my life, I had a plan for raising Christian kids, too. The Great Plan, as I like to call it, basically boiled down to this:
As long as my children are directly under my influence, I will immerse them in All Things Christian. Christian Friends, Christian Family, Christian Schools, Christian Music, Christian Movies, Christian Books, Christian Camps, Christian Vacations, Christian Church and of course, Christian Home, where we will stay separated from All Things Worldly, forever and ever (until they go to college—Christian College, of course). AMEN.
See, I was raised in a very good home. A loving home. In many ways, a Christian home. But I was afforded many freedoms as a child and adolescent, which consequently afforded me a lot of exposure to sin. I made many terrible mistakes during those years. Mistakes that were irreversible and life-altering. Many of them, life-threatening.
And while I firmly believe my parents did the best they could with what they knew, and I in no way blame them for any choice I made growing up, I do not want my kids to have the same freedoms I had growing up, which will expose them to the same sin I saw, which may lead them to make the same mistakes I made.
So like every parent on the planet, I set out to create a better Christian Home for my kids. Thus, The Great Plan.
As part of The Great Plan, I read a lot of Christian Parenting Books. The more I immerse myself in Christian Parenting Philosophy, I reasoned, the better parent I would be, right? Most parenting books I chose to read affirmed both me and The Great Plan.
“Ahhhhhhh….I must be right on track in my parenting technique, ” I thought.
That is, until I picked up this book:
In Chapter One, Kimmel describes several basic parenting methods. I quickly located my method—feeling very affirmed by the author, as usual—and continued to read on. To my utter shock and amazement, my method was an example of INNEFECTIVE PARENTING.
Uh oh. Something tells me God is about to rock my world.
Reading on…sweating now…heart racing… I see where Kimmel says my parenting method produces “safe” kids as opposed to “strong” kids.
“You may not want to hear this, but raising ‘safe’ kids is a spiritual disaster in the making. Your effort will produce shallow faith and wimpy believers. Kids raised in an environment that stresses safety are on track to be spiritual pushovers. They will end up either overly critical of the world’s system to the point where they won’t want anything to do with the people in the world system—an idea that comes directly from Satan’s play book. Or, they will become naïve about the world system, which ultimately makes them putty in Satan’s hands. He chews up these kinds of people like they are spiritual McNuggets and swallows them whole. When they’re finally confronted with the full thrust of the world system as young adults, few know how to turn it into an opportunity for spiritual impact. Safe Christianity is an oxymoron, like ‘jumbo shrimp.’ Living your life sold out for Jesus Christ has never been a way to enjoy a safe life…that’s because Jesus isn’t safe, but He’s always good.”
First of all, I don’t even like my kids to EAT McNuggets, let alone BECOME them. And second of all, the stuff about them becoming spiritual wimps, pushovers, putty in Satan’s hand? That’s just crazy talk.
But, something deep within my spirit knew this was true. I knew so many kids who grew up in “good Christian homes” who later ended up rejecting their faith as adults. Many of them ended up falling deeply into terrible, sinful lifestyles. Others didn’t actually leave their faith, so to speak, but they seemed to grow indifferent to the lost. Some of them have no idea how to act around or respond to an unsaved person.
I never understood why, until the moment I read that quote.
Isolation from the world is not Jesus’ method at all. Jesus lived a perfectly balanced life, never once sinned, but was out in society every single day, interacting with prostitutes, cheaters and alcoholics. So much so, that he was criticized for it.
When was the last time I was criticized because of the wild, unruly company I kept? Um. Never.
Under The Great Plan, my kids would be very, very safe. They’d never know what a prostitute was. Ever. They’d never once interact with an alcoholic. They’d never have to cross paths with a drug addict. We’d examine these sins from afar, if and only if we absolutely had to. But hopefully, we wouldn’t have to. That’s The Plan Stan.
And what would happen when my precious, isolated children would move out of our Good Christian Home and would have to survive in the real world? Well, unless it was part of the Bizarro Christian Bubble World I had created for them growing up, they’d fall flat on their spiritual faces. Really, how would they know what to say to someone who was using profanity? Or was an atheist? Or just had an abortion? Or was hooked on drugs?
They wouldn’t. Because Bizarro Christian Bubble World doesn’t have any of these people in it. Just us Christians, thankyouverymuch.
Kimmel likens this type of parenting to trying to teach your children to swim on your living room floor. You can only teach so much without actually getting in the water with your child and swimming along side them. Demonstrating in the water how to swim. Helping your children learn to kick and move their arms in the water…showing your child how to hold his breath and dive to the bottom in the the pool. You get into the water with your child, and you hold them and catch them and swim right next to them. Until they are equipped to one day jump in the water and swim away on their own.
While reading this book, God reminded me about my childhood and early adulthood. Thanks to my older brothers who talked to me about God day and night, night and day for YEARS, I finally dedicated my life to the Lord my senior year in high school.
I attended a secular college as a brand new baby Christian. But my brothers, who also attended that college at the same time, would immediately encourage me to start teaching Bible studies to other students.
Me. Brand new baby Christian Sandy. Teaching Bible Studies. Yessireeeeee.
I didn’t know much, but my brothers assured me that I knew more than the people I was teaching.
Well, OK then. Teach, I will!
So from the very beginning, my dear brothers walked closely by my side, as I reached out to the unsaved students around me. My brothers were right there every time I had a question and every time I struggled with a Scriptural concept. They taught me to swim by getting right in the water with me…helping me to kick my arms and legs, hold my breath and dive to the bottom. Until finally, I felt confident enough to swim off without their constant assistance.
On that ordinary day, when I was reading what I anticipated to be an ordinary Christian Parenting Book, God stopped me dead in my tracks. He was not only setting my kids free. He was setting me free,too.
Free to raise my children in a home where we refuse to live in fear.
Free to surrender The Great Plan and all other plans to Him.
Free to trust that each and every day He would give me grace and wisdom to raise strong Christian children without having to keep them isolated from the world.
And free to follow Christ’s example by boldly interacting with the lost, the hurt and the oppressed—with my children right there alongside me—learning, doing, and growing in spiritual strength.
Lesson Learned: The grace of God sets parents and children free.
Want to win a copy of Grace Based Parenting? Leave me a comment letting me know and I’ll enter you. Winner will be announced on Fitness Friday (February 27).