As my little family was enjoying our afternoon together at Barnes & Noble, and the kiddos were playing on the train table, I began to browse the children's book section. The former elementary school teacher in me can't resist :).
As I was walking along, I was stopped in my tracks by this:
All of the sudden, the familiar feelings of insecurity and self-doubt crept up, assuring me that I am not doing "enough" for my children. Reminding me that my kids will probably realize what a boring, meaningless existence they have once they are old enough to realize the things we don't do when they start talking with their friends. Telling me that my children will look back on their adolescent years and wish that there had been so many more "traditions" that we had participated in.
I reminded myself that we love our children very much, and that our reasoning for not participating in things like "Elf on the Shelf" and the like are, what we believe, to be God-honoring reasons. I reminded myself how blessed they are to have a Daddy and Mommy who take time throughout each day to read scripture and pray with them. I recounted several things that we do that I hoped would make us "good enough" parents, and then I went about my browsing. As quickly as these thoughts came into my mind, they were gone.
It wasn't until I sat down to read my Proverbs 31 devotion for today that I was reminded of the incident at the bookstore today. You see, in the devotion, the mother was upset that her children "didn't remember" any of the "traditions" that she had worked so hard at implementing every year, and in the end, she was relieved to find out that it was simply a misunderstanding, as her children did not quite fully understand the meaning of the word "tradition". Through this misunderstanding, this mother gained an invaluable lesson from God. She said,
"Through the misunderstanding with my children, God showed me annual activities and events aren't the only things we should pass down to our kids. Rather I should be concerned about spiritual traditions – the passing down of faith – as even more important.
I had been fretting over my children remembering that we drank hot chocolate while putting up our Christmas tree one month out of the year, when I should have been focusing on the spiritual traditions throughout the entire year.
With a bit more research, I realized God gave us guidance on how to do this in Deuteronomy 11:18-19. He was talking to the Israelites in this passage, but the wisdom applies today:
“Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (NIV) "
What a powerful message, and a timely one for me, without a doubt! God doesn't care whether or not I did Elf on the Shelf with my kids, or if I take them to the American Girl store, or if we go to Disney World eight times before they leave our care. What He cares about is us sharing His Word and His love with them, and to lead them to desire a relationship with Him! It isn't about all the activities and stuff we fill our lives with, but rather, it is about filling our lives with God's word, and striving to become more like Him with every single moment that passes.
As you begin your new year, my hope for you is that you don't get so caught up in the stuff of this world. Don't worry about keeping up with the latest activities and gadgets! Don't fret if you can't make that special trip you had been hoping and saving towards! No, my friends. God's word shows us that those are not the things that matters. Take time to impress His word in your own hearts and minds, and in the hearts and minds of your children. Take time to show His love to your family, and show them how to give that love to all those they meet.
May you all have a happy, healthy, prosperous new year that is filled with many blessings <3.