By Susan Besze Wallace
Sometimes you hear a phrase that sticks with you forevermore. For me, it was a message at church about how we often keep God, church and our faith — in a box. We open it on a certain day, in a certain place. Then we close it up and move on with our week.
As a child, that was pretty much my view of faith: Open and shut. A box. Now, as a mom, I find that having faith “open” and flowing through my days is a means to survival — and great joy.
It can feel overwhelming to be responsible for the faith formation of your children. But the more we let God wash over our parenting daily, the less of a list-item and more of a lifestyle faith becomes. Where do you start? Everywhere.
These ideas can be adjusted to your child’s age and understanding beginning at age 2. Much soaks in early, and kids love being asked for input.
Car. Listen to Bible stories and fun music with a message. (My boys jam to the group Go Fish, but I listen when I’m alone, too.) Use road trips for fun and faith: I spy something God made that’s green …. With older kids, play 20 Questions using Bible characters.
Dinner Table. Take turns discovering: Who blessed someone today? Who was blessed? Get in the habit of talking with your kids about times they’ve seen God’s love in action. Maybe a stranger helping carry something or friend time at the park.
Tantrum. Theirs or yours. What better time to illustrate the power of forgiveness, and asking for it. Talk about how God’s love never disappears, even when we mess up. Ask God to help you calm down when needed, and make sure your kids hear.
Grocery Store. Delve into the fruit of the Spirit with your family. There are fruits we eat, and fruits God grows inside us. From the supermarket to the sports field, there are endless opportunities to view and discuss how to live out love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, as found in Galatians 5:22.
Bookshelf and Play Date. Whatever the issue, the Bible and its stories can direct us. As your kids grow, show your priorities by always being ready to sit with them and read the Bible — preferably their own — to discover what God’s word tells us about hitting, jealousy, sharing, etc. Learn together.
Beyond Bedtime. Make conversations with God a regular part of your day. Whether spontaneous help-us-find-the-car prayers or rehearsed God-is-good mealtime rhythms, leading your family in an awareness of God’s constant presence will help them turn to him when you aren’t around.
Church. We have to go to church? We get to go to church. After the harried race to get Sunday clothes — or any clothes — on the kids and get out the door, try to appreciate that we have freedom of worship. No matter how we got to the car, my family treasures fun conversation on the way to church and great bagels afterwards. Sunday mornings are a beloved milestone in our week.
Don’t be intimidated by the responsibility of bringing God to your children. Be inspired. The opportunities are all around us. And so is he.
Susan Besze Wallace truly learned to lean on God when her daughter died during childbirth in 2000. Now she and husband, Todd, yearn to pass on faith to Zach, (9), Luke, (6) and A.J. (4), before crisis, not because of it.