There is no denying that staying at home with our kids for an extended amount of time is not always pretty. It is rough for us parents to make schedules, break up fights, continue with our children’s educations, and also point them toward Jesus. It seems insurmountable, impossible, and something that we just don’t want to do. And as the weeks wear on it may get easier in some ways, but much harder in others. We may be tempted to just switch on the TV for the kids, and zone out on our phones for a couple hours a day.
The first day we were self quarantined I spent hours on my phone. I was obsessed with the constant updates, the school closures, the states with no groceries on the shelves, all the sports that were being cancelled. I wanted to know everything all at once, and I wanted my kids to leave me alone to process it all. I wanted to get to the stores and make sure I had supplies for two weeks, and I wanted my kids to just go play. This was not helpful to how I viewed this new normal, and survival, not thriving, became imperative. I could not see the positive because I wasn’t looking for it. As I went to bed that night I realized I needed to turn to God, and ask what he would have me do. When I chose to abide in His word, this verse came to mind.
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” Galatians 6:9-10
The next day was not perfect, but I spent much less time on my phone. I kept my eyes on my kids, and actually listened to what they were saying to me. They still fought, I still sent them to their rooms to take an hour to myself in the afternoon, and I still knew what was going on outside. I still lost my temper, I still wanted to retreat, and let them watch TV for hours. None of my circumstances changed, but I was choosing not to grow weary, and to view my circumstances as an opportunity.
If I don’t give up, the harvest will be worth the incredibly difficult and enduring process of sowing. I am definitely the parent that leans more toward the “thank goodness my kids go to school because I need a break,” and “they only watched two TV shows today, gold star for me!” I probably won’t ever leave that camp, but I do want to take advantage of this forced family time, and use it to listen, be present, and have fun with my kids. I want to view it as an opportunity, and not as a burden. When we have a schedule, and places to be, and people to invite over, I miss a lot of what my kids are saying and doing because I’m so busy.
I don’t have to clean the house for company coming over. I don’t have to get the kids dressed and ready to go anywhere. I don’t have to pack lunches, or make sure baseball uniforms are clean. In the absence of these things I can listen. I can bake with them, and do kids yoga. I can play cars with my son, and build the girls a house out of cardboard we have in the garage. I can make dinner and sit at the table with them and talk, not rushing them to bed, or to the next thing they have to do. We can let this time get the best of us, or we can rise to the occasion and not grow weary of doing good.
When the Israelites received the ten commandments in the Old testament, Moses followed up with a talk on what the greatest commandment is: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength (Deuteronomy 6:5) He encourages the Israelites to impress this on their hearts, and then gives explicit instructions on what comes after.
“Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” Deuteronomy 6:7
This is a call to all of us to teach what we know of God to our children. I could say a whole lot about what that means (another post someday), but I want to look closely at how he is encouraging it to be taught. We are not encouraged here to take our kids to church, or plan elaborate lessons to show them how to love the lord with all their heart. We are simply called to incorporate the love of our Lord into our normal daily lives: when we sit at home, walk along the road, lie down, and get up. In these next few weeks, we are given the opportunity to have these uninterrupted times with our kids. The roadblocks of schedules, work, social lives are all being removed. So what will you do with the extra time?
It’s not going to be easy to be present and engage with our kids all the time, but we can certainly try a little bit. I encourage you all to talk about the Lord with your kids at least once a day in these next few weeks. We have very little excuse not to. We have a captive audience, and anything we do or say in these days will be something sown for a later harvest. And also, I encourage everyone to dig into quality time with your kids. Do the new activities with them, engage with them, listen and talk to them. My kids are actually pretty funny little people, and a great comic relief in times like these.
And in this challenge to view this circumstance as an opportunity, view it with a side of grace. Obviously we’re not going to have amazing Jesus moments with our kids on a daily basis, and we actually may never have them in these next few weeks. However, they are listening, they are seeing what’s important, and they are soaking in their surroundings. If you need to put on a movie to get your head on straight, or take a nap, or take a few deep breaths, please do it. When you inevitably lose your temper and send them all to their rooms in desperation, take a deep breath, and embrace His grace. This challenge can only be accomplished with supernatural strength from the Lord, and a whole lot of grace for ourselves. Life isn’t meant to be lived alone, but in this time, give yourselves a lot of grace in the solitude. All we can do is pray, and try our best.
So try Cosmic Kids Yoga on youtube, look up a bible lesson on Pinterest, go for a walk, bake a new treat, or watch VeggieTales with them. Anything that you get excited about, they will, too. And any quality time spent with you will be a cherished time for them. All of the things we do in these next few weeks are seeds of love and family sown in our kids that they will be reaping harvests of for years to come. So decide what kind of harvest you want to reap, and start sowing those seeds today.