By Christine Darragh
Parenting came to me, unexpectedly and unintentionally. But, while I mistakenly entered motherhood, its growth within me has not been haphazard. Up until that one decisive pregnancy test, many of the choices in my life were characterized by selfish pride and fear, (flip sides of one coin, I’m afraid) and while my own hindsight can see the consequences scattered across my former life, nothing spoke as loudly as pregnancy. The slow incubation of a child within, forced me to contemplate the reality that my son would face once he entered the world.
Life as I knew it was ending, and I had a nine-month grace period to reassess. Many things were reassigned priorities in that time, including my education, work life and career, faith and family. Inconsistencies in reality were thrown into contrast against my values, and I had a chance to realign them. In a way I had not grasped until these months, I recognized my own need to take responsibility for my faith in a tangible way so that I could be an example to this new little person whose hope for the future was dependent upon me for a while.
I recognized my own need to take responsibility for my faith in a tangible way so that I could be an example to this new little person whose hope for the future was dependent upon me for a while.
I know from child psychology and books on parenting, that the most important people in a child’s life are its parents. Their cohesion as a team often indicates strength and future success in areas like self-discipline, image, relationships, career and even faith. The weight of this influence leaves me feeling under-prepared and overwhelmed on most days.
Because, for me, someone who wants to be able to demonstrate achievement and check-off lists, so many things about parenthood are hard, and almost all of them are journeys that require persistent effort in one direction over a long period of time.
The weight of this influence leaves me feeling under-prepared and overwhelmed on most days.
I may not admit this very often, but I’m far from a perfect person, and there are so many areas where I fall down. As a sinful being, any example I set is inherently flawed. But, because my husband Ben and I complement each other — many times my weakness corresponds to his strengths (& vice versa) — we often find ourselves working together toward the common goal of raising moral, well-adjusted children who want to do the right thing. But, that’s not quite enough.
This could probably be the goal of most loving parents anywhere around the country and around the world. But, raising faithful children requires something more. For me, it means that my children grow up to know and love Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. The question with which I wrestle, is can they grow into this personal relationship when one parent in their lives actively pursues a completely different faith?
Raising faithful children requires something more.
I’ve had almost 12 years now of parenting to roll this question around in my mind, bringing it to God through bible study, journaling and prayer. And, I believe that I have an answer He’s given me, but it’s not easy. It comes from Psalm 78:2-7.
My job is to talk to my kids, to tell the ugly parts. To admit secrets I might prefer to hide. With my words, to hold a mirror reflecting my life so that my children can envision who I have been, in order that they can see how I am changed today. Confessing daily the blessings I feel and challenges I face, so God’s hand is apparent in our home.
My job is to talk to my kids, to tell the ugly parts.
God tells me in this Psalm, that my responsibility is simply to re-tell His story of redemption in me; to sing His love song of salvation to my children, so that they learn from it to love God for what he has done in my life, and also what He has the potential yet to accomplish in their own.
Simple. Simply tell. This is like saying “Go run a marathon.” Or “Climb a mountain.” Or “Start a new business.” One statement, encapsulated within, is an endless series of action items and nested to-do lists. I have the self-confidence of Moses and want to enlist someone Herculean, who can speak more eloquently, write more clearly, communicate more effectively, love unconditionally. This simple command requires a long persistent effort of faithful obedience, an 18-year-long faith lesson – for them, and myself.
My responsibility is simply to re-tell His story of redemption in me; to sing His love song of salvation to my children.
The reality is that this is not an easy task or a check-mark on some life’s bucket list. But it is the best gift I can give to my children; my own faithfulness to God, so that my faith can be caught in their hearts and become their own.