I’ll admit, when I was asked to write this blog about Why I’m Raising My Children As Christians, I was a bit overwhelmed, but definitely felt that God was calling me to write on this and have been excited to see it come together. Furthermore… it took me weeks. Not because I didn’t know what to write, because I knew from Day 1 what was in my heart. But more because it’s such an important parenting decision, how was I going to do it justice? I felt frozen! But after some prayer, reflection, and advice from girlfriends, I was ready to dive in!
First of all, I know that this isn’t for everyone. I know people have their personal beliefs on why they are or are not Christian. A majority of the time, you can’t convince someone to change their core beliefs, no matter what they may be and that is fine. That is not my job. Friends of mine have not brought their children into a church because they feel it’s important to let their children decide for themselves what their beliefs are once they are old enough. That is definitely within their right as a parent, which is their personal decision and one I don’t judge them on. And while I am definitely not a “holy roller”, my faith is an important part of who I am and only continues to grow. I know what a hot-button issue this can be that can unite, as well as divide. That being said, my husband and I were both brought up in the Christian Faith from the day we were born and it was always a given that our children would be brought up the same way. Have we faltered at times in our belief? Of course. I don’t know any Christian who hasn’t for many different reasons. But at the end of the day, for my family, it’s always about God, our faith, and the comfort and knowledge that we have found from the Christian faith and the Bible that has inspired our decision to raise our children with these same beliefs.
God Is Everywhere – Even if We Can’t “See” Him
Look all around you. I see God everyday of my life. I see him in my children’s laughs, in the beauty of nature, in the love I feel from family and friends. But I also see him at work in times of turbulence. I see Him when people band together after a tragedy or loss. I see him continue to give me hope and faith when I feel like there isn’t any left to be found. Many wonder why he would allow a tragedy or loss to happen in the first place. How could God do such a thing? My only answer for that is that it’s not up to us to understand. We just need to have faith and believe he knows what is ultimately best for us. It’s not easy, but that is part of what being a Christian represents.
Nobody can sell you on the idea of a God if you aren’t in a place of accepting Him. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t believe that things I can’t see are real. I know the love I feel from my kids and my spouse are real. I know the pain I feel is real when something hurts me or I feel an injustice against me or my family, just as I know that God surrounds me everyday. My deep and abiding faith keep me centered and I want my children to know this inspiration and to know that unseen things can, in fact, be real.
Yes, God is a concept of faith and focuses on believing in the unseen for many, but I have no doubt that He is there. While it may not seem “logical” to many, He is not meant to be fully understood. You can’t place that kind of understanding in a box and easily close it up. Bad things happen to good people that we can’t understand, but I do have the faith that God has a bigger reason for it than any of us will ever know.
My Ultimate Role Model is God
Cue parenthood. My belief in God couldn’t have been more strong. We had adopted two beautiful children over the course of 2 1/2 years and went through fertility struggles that could have sent me in a tailspin for years before that. But they didn’t. Don’t get me wrong… I was tested. Tested more than I ever wanted to be. He didn’t answer my prayers to be a Mom for years and it felt unfair and cruel. Why me? But we made it through the tunnel and when both of my children were born, I understood quite clearly why God never allowed me to conceive a child of my own. He didn’t answer my prayers at the time, but after adopting our two kids, it was clear that they WERE my own in every way that mattered. He had a plan for me all along and while I wasn’t able to understand it in the thick of my grief, I now know that the reason was bigger and led me to further understand my faith. I place my future in God’s hands everyday and through his will, my life unfolds. My prayers were, indeed, answered, just maybe not in the ways that I originally understood or asked for. But it turned out the way HE intended it to be, which is where our faith enters the picture.
I’ve seen how my world has been turned head-over-heels because of my children. I would sacrifice anything to benefit their well-being and I see how God has done the same for me. He sacrificed his one and only Son! “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (-John 3:16) I see how his infinite wisdom and values have provided me with the framework of my life, and in turn, my children’s lives. It has helped to point our children towards values that they can hold onto for the rest of their lives. What better role model could I ask for for myself and my children!
Because my husband and I both went to parochial schools, we wanted the same for our kids, too. There were challenging times being in a small class in a small school, but overall, it laid the foundation that we needed to grow into the adults that we are today. We both learned our Bible stories, memorized our Bible verses and were confirmed in our respective churches. When we met and got engaged, for various reasons, I moved to the Lutheran faith so we would be united in a church and future parenting goals. It was something that I believed in 100%, as my parents were of different faiths and we NEVER attended church together as a family. I wanted a different experience for my kids and for myself, as a parent.
I wanted my kids to hear about the joy, pain, struggles, and miracles that God has given and learn from them, as well. It was so important to us that when we moved from our previous church a few years ago, we wanted to make sure that the community we moved to had not only a Lutheran church, but our specific synod, as well as a school that our kids could attend in the future.
And it’s happening!
I love how my son, who is now in Kindergarten, can tell me different stories out of the Bible and sing me songs that he is learning in his class. He is excited to pray before bed and hearing his prayers absolutely melt my heart. It’s about more than the next toy he wants. He prays for his family. Thanks God for what he has received. Asks for health and well-being for the ones he loves. He is slowly, but surely, learning that praying for only things that he wants isn’t the true meaning of prayer. And he teaches me to be more thankful and send up words of Praise to God when things happen in my life that are good, as well!
Meanwhile, my daughter, who is 3, sees a picture of Jesus and can tell me that he loves children and he is “super nice”. She is captivated in church by the music and loves going up to the front during the weekly “children’s message”. When we drive by our church during the week, she points and screams, “CHURCH” each and every time. They know that Christmas happens because a baby was born, not because of toys, Santa, and presents! Don’t misunderstand… presents are still a big thing that the kids love about Christmas (!) but they also know that we’re celebrating the birthday of our Lord and Savior and it isn’t just a day when Santa shows up. God is slowly but surely turning into a role model for my children to live their best lives!
There is More To This World Then Ourselves
Throughout the Bible, God instructs us many times to forego selfish ambition, to live humbly and in humility, to focus on serving others and to help those who may be viewed as “less” than us. These are exactly the types of lessons I want my children to grow up with in a world that is more and more focused on individual profit and accumulation of “things”. It’s not “all about us” and Christianity teaches us about offering compassion to those who may be less fortunate and to focus less on a self-centered life. Why wouldn’t I want my children to build upon these ideas of love and service through Christianity? God’s teachings give us things that reward and fulfill us in ways we wouldn’t otherwise have had. It’s not all about the “things”.
I Love My Children, Therefore I Share My Faith
God’s teachings are ultimately what I believe about the world, life, and faith. I am raising my children as Christians because it is part of who I am. This world has so much pain and confusion, but it is also a world full of wonder and unexplainable beauty. I have found my truth within Christianity, but am still in awe of the new things I learn about God everyday.
Proverbs 22:6 – Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
A friend of mine put it perfectly. We pick out our kids’ clothes. We pick out the food they will eat, the friends we steer them to when they are young, the play dates they can go on. Why wouldn’t we help guide their faith from an early age? From the second they are born we make sure that we are doing everything we can to give them the most healthy, happiest life. So why wouldn’t that include introducing them to God? Children aren’t equipped to make these types of decisions until much later and I’d much rather have them decide later in life what they feel works best for them than to not ever have had the opportunity to know and learn about God and believe in the Christian faith. Yes, I want them to think for themselves, but I also want them to make decisions that are grounded in truth. Jesus is our redeemer and through the teachings of the Bible, our church, and school, my kids are learning about this on a daily basis. They are being taught words written by the prophets of the Old Testament and the apostles of the New Testament.
God Is With Us Even When We Don’t Deserve It
I also want to make sure my kids know that there is no such thing as perfection. We all sin. We all make mistakes. And we all need to ask for forgiveness and confess our sins. “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven.” (- Matthew 10:32). While there is no such thing as perfection in ourselves, our faith teaches us that God is ready and willing to forgive and accept us for who we are. He already knows what is going to happen before we do and knows the plan that He has for us. I find this to be a huge comfort that God knows that I’m going to screw up. It doesn’t mean he’s going to send me to Hell or he is going to abandon me. It means he has sent his son, Jesus Christ, to be the ultimate sacrifice, in order for me to live an eternal life. And it’s important to me that me children understand these lessons and know that they, too, are God’s children no matter what.
Again, using God as my role model, it is important for me to parent with those same beliefs. To love my kids through their faults and sins and forgive and accept them for who they really are. Not just now, but as they continue to grow into young adults.
While it’s an extremely personal and private parenting decisions, these are the reasons why I, personally, am raising my children to be Christians!