I tell my children all the time:
"God loves you."
That sentence is something I never heard growing up. That sentence although now easily rolls off my tongue with strong conviction would have been completely foreign had I heard it growing up. I wouldn't have believed it then. That single simplistic sentence of "God loves you" with so much meaning and weight, grace and power behind it would have stood out as an impostor in my family environment as a child. No one ever uttered the Lord's name the entire length of my childhood nor did we pray before meals or any other time except at Thanksgiving right before digging into my grandmother's turkey, dressing and Watergate salad on her Spode plates.
I often reflect on how different my children's childhood is compared to my own. In some ways they are glaringly different, because as we know society progresses and generations change. My childhood didn't have the technology that is so readily available today. Mine was simpler… hula hoops, sidewalk chalk, Lincoln Logs, paper dolls and Tinker Toys took up quite a bit of my time as a kid. Playing outside back then was not viewed as an outing requiring Epi-pens, Benadryl, helmets, knee pads, sunscreen and a hat but instead a daily expected adventure in which whatever happened happened, then upon coming inside guzzling giant glasses of Kool Aid full of red dye and delicious sugar. A world where peanut butter and jelly was a lunchtime ritual, dandelions were flowers gifted to mom and the words allergies, gluten-free and asthma weren't ever present in vocabulary. Every afternoon after school and weekends there were mud pies to be made, wagon rides to be had and teeters to totter.
Todays generation is so different iPhones seem to have taken over the little hands of children in general… little hands that we one day pictured building sand castles, holding a jump rope as songs are sung in rhythm to the jumps and those same little hands that should be holding caterpillars. That is why my house is an electronic-free zone. I realize I'm likely in the minority here. I don't allow my children on the weeks I have them to bring those addictive tools with them that only serve the purpose of "zoning out" into an alter world. The world we live in offers so much more. It offers beauty, light, love and hands on learning. A video game may allow you to "win" at racing, in conquering the bad guys in battle or learn how to style a princess to sweet perfection. For five minutes you can be the winner, the hero, the diva producer. But then what? What happens then? The high, the five minutes of fame is lost and no real skill set is acquired. When someone asks you "What can you do? What are your strengths? What are your skills? What do you contribute?"
What do you say?
How do you reply?
A video game doesn't offer our children the skills to help them learn about who they are. A video game doesn't offer our children the opportunity to help others, to interact and engage in a meaningful way… to learn hands on what they excel at and what their interests are… whether it's planting a small garden, doing a craft or science experiment, baking homemade lasagna with mom or sweeping the driveway… all of these real life experiences and more offer invaluable time spent together and allow children to learn about themselves… raising their self esteem in a way that has longer lasting effects than being the five minute hero just because he won a virtual basketball game. That high is short lasting but getting out and swimming with team mates, encouragement, sweat and determination is a life long lesson in going after your goals and dreams in life, finding your strengths through trial and error, learning about what feeds your soul and maybe even makes you walk with a happy step.
It's when we realize that iPhones and handheld video games allow us to walk the earth in perpetual distraction, to chronically walk or sit with our heads down and shoulders slumped… to live life in a state so focused on a tiny screen that everything happening around us is just a blur of activity now deemed unimportant. This feeds our natural narcissistic hunger within, feeds our flesh… to ignore others and play in an alter world instead… at the cost of our relationships, at the cost of connection, at the cost of love. We are the ultimate displayers of love for our children. When we are allowing them to be focused on a tiny screen versus the happy wag of the family dog asking for a treat, or the sound of music playing from the family stereo to dance to… or the making of homemade pizza as a family on a Saturday night… our children lose. When we all connect, we all laugh, we all love, we all share, we all learn…. at the end of the day it really comes down to….
Only then we all win.
God wants you to have a life of beauty, love and connection with your children. Yes, there will be hardship. There will be days you want to run into the street and cry "Really?! Come on, God! I need some help down here!"…parenting is never easy… we all know, anyone who is a parent that there are infinite challenges with the biggest responsibility we will ever have, we will ever be given and be blessed with. We know there will be days of raining emotion, frustration, disappointment, despair and days of sorrow…. there will be all these things… no one ever promised perfection and we shouldn't even want it. Because when we go through parenting…. the key word, "hands on parenting", when we engage and connect we are going the extra mile, we are doing what's right, what's best for our children… when we are having dinner as a family versus setting the children in front of the television and walking off we are sending them a message:
I am here.
I am listening.
I love you.
God does the same thing for us every single day.
He wants to connect.
"You matter… whether you are in the womb
or a hundred and five… you are mine, my child."
He says: "I'm listening."
He says: "I love you."
There is no battle there to be won.
It's already won.
God is your hero, your grace, your power, your strength.
And even when life is like a bag of lemons, even when it seems like that rain will never ever let up… even when it seems like everything will never get better…. remember this….
Where you fail God is there.
Your children know you love them…
But do they know God does?
Maybe it's time to tell them.
He's really the biggest hero of their childhood.
© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~ 2014