I was sitting in church yesterday listening to the message when the Lord spoke to me about my children. But as is usually the case, when the Lord speaks to me about my children (or husband, for that matter) it is about something I am doing or need to change. Yesterday was no different. The pastor was reading the story of the rich young ruler in Mark 10:17-22:
As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments, ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’ ” And he said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.” Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.
The first thing I realized was that it was not the money or possessions this young man had which was his problem. His problem was what he had made his idol and to what he had given his heart. Jesus asked the young man to let go of his possessions, precisely because that is where his affections were tied up — and as we find out, tied up more with his possessions than with the Lord. And Jesus knew it.
The next thing I realized was that I was just like the rich young ruler. Only I am not holding tightly to possessions. I am holding tightly to my children. And the Lord was saying to me, “Do you love Me more than these?”
Loving my children was not wrong, of course, or wanting them to succeed in life was not bad. But had I made their success my idol? Were my affections so completely tied up in their lives that I couldn’t let go of them and let Jesus work as He would, in them and in me? What if they make a mistake, how will that reflect on me and the job I did raising them and teaching them? Double ouch, because therein lies the root of the holding tightly. Uncomfortable questions for those of us who homeschool. I think I have some soul searching to do this week.
Wow! What a wonderful post! I am challenged anew!
Reading your post put some things into perspective for me. You are right; Christ is number one, not our children or anyone/thing else, for that matter. It's so easy to get caught up in the things of this world, when our "real life" is Christ and what He has for us. Thank you for tipping my eyes heavenward this day.
When does love for family become idol worship?
I have often wondered this?
Remembering who has given me my children helps…
so does being mindful of who we serve.
Checking my motivation is critical.
Am I doing this for God's Glory?
As Unto the Lord?
It is a fine line, isn't it?
After homeschooling for 13 years, I think this is the hardest challenge for homeschool moms. All parents can be guilty of viewing their children this way (i.e., as idols and/or as reflections of themselves), of course, but homeschool parents are more susceptible than most. This kind of thinking then leads to viewing your children as projects rather than as human beings and children of God. Believe me, our teenagers in particular do not want us to treat them like projects; they know better and will let us know how much they hate this, sometimes in very painful ways.
The really horrible thing about this mindset is that we end up demanding more from our children than God asks of us. We should look to the way He treats His children for insight into how we should treat our children. He gives all of us immense freedom to become whomever we want, and He certainly doesn't wrap his psyche around our performance or choices. As our children mature, we must move into a similar relationship with them.
When I realized that I was not supposed to correct every move and opinion that my daughter had, and that I was to embrace who she was and give her space, the tension between us melted away. I was able to do this only because I finally stopped identifying myself as just her mother and started relating to her as another human being. My husband and I also tried to make our home a fun place to be, and we cultivated our own interests and passions so that we would have a life to share with our children. At the same time we avoided most youth-oriented events and instead had their friends over here to listen to music, watch movies, play volleyball, eat, and talk. This all developed slowly over time; we didn't have a grand plan because we were not treating our kids like projects anymore. We were just trying to be with them and enjoy them.
My point is that we "lucked out" if you don't mind me using that turn of phrase. One good thing led to another. But changing my mindset was what made it all possible. Even though it was a painful process for me to face the mistakes I'd been making as a mom, I am thrilled at the results. Our children love to be with us, and their friends spend a lot of time here, too.
One caveat: none of our children were or have been in open rebellion (although we were beginning to see some signs of trouble), so I don't know if anything we've done would help in that kind of situation. I have seen a similar shift in another family which has dealt with a rebellious son, and although not all is well there, huge improvements have occurred.
Sorry about the long response, but this issue has been on my mind for a long time. Touche, Chris! Thanks for bringing it up.