I often wonder if God uses my children to teach me lessons about myself and my role as a mother. It seems like they say or do the most profound things when I am at my wits end. During these situations, I usually end up laughing at myself and hugging and thanking my children for the lesson they just taught me! In their innocence, my children become my teachers. Through their eyes, things are seen with simplicity.
My family and I were getting ready for church on a Wednesday night. I was rushing around the house trying to gather my purse, the crock pot, the kids, and the Bibles. The time came to hit the door and my daughter, Rylee, was still in her closet trying to find the perfect pair of shoes. She made her final selection and raced out the door to meet the rest of us at the car. I remember saying a small prayer in the car asking, “Lord, please help me slow down so I can focus on the rest of this day.” When we arrived , my husband, Jake and I delivered our “Do not act up” speech to our girls before we got out of the car. As Rylee walked up to the building, I noticed she had a green flip flop on her left foot and a pink flip flop with a butterfly on the toe of her right foot. I pulled her aside and crouched down to her level and with all of the calmness left within me I asked, “Rylee, why do you have on two different shoes? You had plenty of time to find a pair of shoes!” Then my sweet little girl looked up at me with her great big beautiful chocolate brown eyes and said, “But Momma, I just wanted to be like you!” I hesitantly looked down at my own feet and to my surprise; I had a green flip flop on my left foot, and a pink flip flop on the right. At that moment, figuratively speaking, my foot was right in my mouth, so, I did the only thing I could think of, I took Rylee in my arms and we sat in the grass and laughed. It was a good laugh, one that brought tears up that were hiding from the frustration of the day. Time seemed to stop for just a moment, so I could hold my little girl and appreciate her and her innocence. Rylee reminded me right then that she watches my every move. She pays very close attention to the things I do because she wants to be like me. She even went as far as looking a bit goofy because her momma looked that way.
Looking back on that moment, I feel God was showing me that my children look up to me and imitate my actions, no matter how careless they may seem to be. This thought brought up a question I believe every parent should ask themselves, “Is it safe to tell my children to imitate me?” In 1 Corinthians 4:16 (NKJV) Paul says, “Therefore I urge you, imitate me.” Paul explains earlier in verse 14 that he feels the members at Corinth are his “beloved children”. He demonstrates paternal care and tells them to imitate him. He guides them through the ways in Christ through his love, words, and actions. He also tells the saints in Philippi to follow his example in Philippians 3:17. Are we walking our Christian walk in such a way that we can tell our children to imitate us? The fact is our children are going to imitate us whether we are prepared or not! As mentioned earlier, Rylee imitated my actions as closely as she could even though she knew I was frazzled.
Think for a moment about what David wrote to God in Psalm 27:11 (NKJV) “Teach me your way, O Lord, and lead me in a smooth path.” Can you hear that coming from the simple mouth of your child? “Teach me your ways Momma and Daddy, lead me in a smooth path.” David hungered for God’s guidance and tried to follow Him closely. Our children hunger for our guidance and try to follow us closely. At an early age, our children learn about God’s love through our love as parents. It is imperative that we imitate Him closely for our children’s sake.
I can say I felt humbled when my daughter imitated my not-so-stylish choice in footwear. I can also say every please, thank you, selfless act, and prayer recited by my children gives me joy as a parent. I encourage you to be on the watch for little moments to learn from your little ones. You can count on them to lead you in their love as you do your best to lead them to Christ. Show them His love through your love in everything and remember, they are watching you carefully. Lead them carefully, and be the devoted parent that can confidently hold your child close and without waiver be able to say, “I urge you, imitate me.”
Published by Christian Woman in the May/June 2009 issue