Life surprises us sometimes. We aren’t always in control of what happens. But we are in control of how we respond with our words and actions. Whether the end result of the life surprise is what you had in mind, nothing you ever imagined, or somewhere in between, ‘the decision to trust is the teachable moment - not the outcome.’ Our kids are picking up what we are laying down. They are far more perceptive than we give them credit for. We don’t formally teach our kids to cheer for our alma mater - they’ve just seen us go to games, wear team colors, follow team stats, and talk about team news over dinner for years. We don’t have to teach it, but somehow our kids still learn it.
There are many positives to our kids copying our behavior and beliefs. But when our behavior and beliefs aren’t God-honoring, it can backfire. When you ask, ‘Where did you hear that?’ and your child answers, ‘I heard it from you’, it opens your eyes to just how much they are picking up. They are always learning whether we realize we are teaching or not.
So how do you change your words and actions to be God-honoring when things aren’t going exactly as you thought they would? Well it is easier said than done. It might be difficult at first but if you commit to choosing to trust God, over time, you might find that it becomes easier and easier.
The first step is talking about Jesus frequently in your life. In Charlie’s sermon on July 26, he posed several questions, not for us to feel guilty, but to make us examine our conversations and reframe them so that talking about Jesus is as natural as talking about anything else.
- How much do you talk about Jesus vs how much do you talk about your problems?
- How much do you talk about Jesus vs how much do you talk about movies, Netflix, FB posts—YouTube videos? What else?
Talking about Jesus won’t come naturally unless you actually start talking about him- and talk about him often. When our conversations and actions are centered on how we feel about what is happening and don’t include a choice to trust God with an unknown future, we show off spots of unbelief that have taken hold of our hearts. And even if our children are not the intended audience for these conversations, they are listening and picking up the fear in our voices rather than the confidence we have that God has a good plan for our lives.
But it is not enough to talk about trusting him, the second step is we actually have to change our actions to show our children, and others, that we are trusting him. In Jennie Allen’s Get Out of Your Head, she gives a simple way to reframe our thoughts that still allows for all the emotions about all of the situations, but includes an actionable step for a choice to trust God.
|[negative emotion] because [reason]
||[negative emotion], and [reason], so I will [choice]
- [Negative emotion] because [reason].
- Examples: I’m worried because I don’t know what the future looks like. I’m stressed because there are no clear answers. I’m frustrated because nothing is going the way I was expecting.
- [Negative emotion], and [reason], so I will [choice].
- Examples: I’m worried, and I don’t know what the future looks like, so I will choose to trust God. I’m stressed, and there are no clear answers, so I will depend on the Holy Spirit for guidance and direction. I’m frustrated, and nothing is going the way I was expecting, so I will turn to God for comfort and believe that His plan is better than my plan.
(From Jennie Allen’s Get Out of Your Head, p. 82)
We often think our kids aren’t listening, but they are. Start listening to yourself and pray for God to reveal the areas of unbelief in your heart. When you become more aware of your own unbelief, you have a chance to make a choice to trust. “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” Luke 6:45 It’s a small shift in how we talk about an unknown future, but over time, could have a big change in what our kids pick up. “If we are going to teach our children to run to Jesus daily, we must run to Jesus daily as well.” (From Paul Tripp’s Gospel Parenting Book pg 56)