They're watching you mumma...
This is the internet, so of course I'm going to share the positive behaviour they're replicating. No ones going to stop and photograph the sass or attitude she's modelling (please, don't show my husband this public admission of sass, he doesn’t need to know I admit that). I digress.
A real light bulb moment in my parenting was when my eldest was around two and a half and I realised that he was going to see what it means to follow Jesus by the way my husband and I followed Jesus. It was quite a humbling and terrifying realisation. I could see my sin on display. I wasn’t understanding grace - I felt like I needed to work for God's approval.
For years I lived in fear that my kids were going to replicate all the shame I was battling with, my sin, my anger, my lack of self control. In my shame mindset, I could only see the negative I was modelling.
I dedicated myself to modelling one thing; repentance. I felt like it was all I could control. I might not be able to stop the anger spilling out in the harshness of my words, but I could model repentance. I cannot tell you how often I was saying, "I'm really sorry for the way I spoke to you. Jesus doesn't want mummy to treat you disrespectfully. I've said sorry to him and he's forgiven me. And I'd like to say sorry to you too".
But slowly, slowly, God was changing my heart.
I was seeing a counsellor who was helping me uncover my shame, my trauma, the big feelings underneath my anger. She was giving me strategies to cope with my big emotions. This coincided with my toddlers and their big emotions. We could learn together.
Over the last 5 years, I maintain that I am not where I want to be, but I look back on the growth and can see God has been weeding out the ugly things in my heart, moulding me to be like Jesus and there is growth. I am more patient. I am more loving and gentle and self controlled.
As I take a step back now and observe my family, sure, I still see the sin. We're this side of heaven. But in God's kindness, I can see the hard work and discipline being modelled to my kids.
I can’t tell you how encouraging it is when I see them putting the new skills we’re learning into practice. When I hear them apologising to God and each other, or I see them looking out for other people and how they can encourage or show kindness to others. I see them working hard at being self controlled. Sure, its glimpses. They're kids, we're humans. It's not all the time.
One of the biggest joys and gifts God's given in my own healing of only seeing the negative in myself is my daughter. This past year, she pulled out her bible and pretended to prepare bible study as I'm prepping mine. As I'm walking out the door to MC church for the first time, and quite nervous, she left the TV (surprisingly, that's not the shock value here), put my face in her hands and said, "I'm so proud of you. Jesus is always with you" and toddled her three year-old self off. She sits at my desk and "helps” me with this podcast. When I asked her what she thinks mummy's need to know about Jesus she said, "Jesus loves mummy's too" and sang The Best Book to Read is the Bible. Oh, how my own mummy heart wanted to explode. Thank you God for these gifts.
(By the way, that drawing is of you - the mum who listens to Unsung Stories).
God is working in their little lives.
They are looking to us as models of Jesus followers.
For some of us, this might be a warning. To consider where our priorities lie, what we're imparting on our children, and to ask the Holy Spirit to work in us to seek first the kingdom of God. How are you seeking God? Are you ticking the boxes of christian activities (church, bible study, even serving) but your life and attitude reveal different priorities?
For others, it might be to look for the good stuff. I'm not suggesting to serve just so that our kids will copy us (though, I could argue this is a beautiful, unexpected benefit). Look out for those little moments that show they're seeing the good stuff. Celebrate those sweet, heart filled prayers. Rejoice when you see them put their brother first. Praise God when they want to join in serving with you. God is moulding and growing their little lives too. Celebrate and praise God for these good gifts!
Our kids have a front row seat in seeing how we live. Are we bearing witness and being faithful with who we’ve been entrusted with?