How to help our children be honest about their relationship with God.

What made Adam hide from the Lord God?

“He answered the Lord saying, I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid.” Gen 2:10

Fear.

Fear is a powerful force in the world. Fear is subtle and lethal. It sneaks around and seeps into the corners of our soul. Fear knows how to become a way of life which makes getting rid of it difficult. It’s hard to see it as anything, but the way I react to life. God, however, tells us not to fear. Instead we are to cast our fears on Him, pray diligently, and trust Him. Love casts out fear, yet for fear junkies it is not that simple of a thing to overcome. In fact it may be harder to overcome fear than to get sober. Fear has less external consequences. There isn’t anything there screaming for us to get rid of our fear addiction. So we live our lives in it. It’s engrained and trying to tell others they are fearful is like trying to pull a newborn baby out of a mother’s hands.

Fear protects. God does not want us to fear because doing so goes against every command He has given us. Fear protects. Loves gives. Fear is concerned with self. Please let that sink in. In the end we are really worried about us. How will this affect me is fear’s mantra. Fear does not think of others first and thinks of God even less.

In the Old Testament God’s people were happy with superficial fixes. There was a rule to obey, a sacrifice to be made, or a festival to attend. These things took care of everything. Their consciences could be made clean, but Jesus changed all that. Annoying really. There are no quick fixes to our souls. What’s required is life change and that is difficult. Yet like our brothers and sisters before us we want the quick fix. We can’t stand to deal with the wickedness of our hearts and want to get that band aid on fast.

Mix this with fear and you have a potent mixture for fake faith. Fear doesn’t want to know the truth. Fear doesn’t want to know that your husband is having an affair, won’t admit your lust for pornography, doesn’t want to know if your kid’s salvation really took, or if your dad is really an alcoholic. Fear wants to protect because that keeps us from suffering. It keeps us safe, but at what cost?

Fear is subtle. It looks like this:

  • It prevents. It says things to get its way.
  • It is negative. It doesn’t like change, or anything out of its norm. It sways and manipulates.
  • It stops. Fear wants to know enough to control, but it doesn’t want the whole truth.
  • It pleases. Fear often wants to please others and goes to extremes to accomplish that.
  • It doesn’t. Fear doesn’t do a lot of things out of a concern of what it might look like.
  • It settles. It can’t do things all the way. It’s too afraid. It won’t venture out of its comfort zone.
  • It accepts. It won’t look at what is really going on. It stays on a superficial level where it’s safe.
  • Is blind. Fear likes the bubble. It doesn’t want to know what is on the inside.

Mom, I want to move. That’s not a good idea. Fear.

Mom, I am going to a new church. Why? They have weird beliefs. Fear.

Mom, I am going out with that one boy you warned me about. Mom is silent. She doesn’t want to deal with it. Fear. She stops so she doesn’t have to have a truthful and possibly painful conversation.

Mom, I am not sure I believe in God. Sure you do. Just go forward this Sunday. Fear.

Mom, let me tell you about the party I went to. I can’t now. I am busy. Fear.

If we are fake we demonstrate how we want others to be. If we can’t be honest then we can’t expect others to be honest with us. Honesty is scary and difficult. Lies just feel better. There is something at stake here that is more important than your fears. There is the state of your child’s heart and their place in eternity. Love for them needs to cast out fears of our uncomfortableness.

My youngest son doesn’t want anything to do with God and neither does my oldest son. In fact neither of my daughters seem too interested in Him either. It’s scary stuff. In fact I have seasons where I feel like I could walk away from church altogether. I sometimes fail to pick up my bible for days well actually weeks and maybe months, but who is counting. I have seasons where if I was honest I would admit that the only thing keeping me connected is going to church on Sunday’s. I run out of service feeling like I just might be alright with God.

Be honest. Be honest about your struggles as a Christian, parent, employee, co-worker, spouse, etc. We can’t see the grace of God working in your life if we don’t see the mess.

Encourage honesty. Tell me how you really feel? Give people space to be who they really are. This means you don’t get to say negative manipulating comments. This means you have to really hear it and you have to encourage hearing it. Tell me how you really feel? I hate God. Okay. We can deal with that.

Demonstrate honesty. Don’t put on a front. Be real. Don’t post all day about God on social media and live like the devil. If you want to live like the devil than do it and be honest about it. Don’t act like it’s all great. Show who you are and if you who you are scares you, or embarrasses you then change. Try this.

Faith sucks on most days. One moment I feel like God is with me and the next He seems like a distant star. I am not sure I love Him most days. God’s people drive me crazy. Man the choir sucks. Why can’t they have music like Marilyn Manson? Why can’t we rock?  I don’t want to pray I want a drink! Screw this crap. If they ask me to attend another woman’s event I am going to puke. I don’t want to bake. I want to go to the beach and have a margarita. Sure I love God, but I don’t want to follow all these rules.

Let’s be honest. The truth is scary, but it’s the only thing that can truly be dealt with. If we are honest, encourage honesty, and demonstrate honesty we will have the opportunity to build honest relationships with our children. Relationships where they can be honest about their faith, or lack of. Where they can flesh out what this God of ours means to them. Because of course we aren’t alright just because we look alright. This is about eternity mom and dad. Not about our very temporary feelings and fears.

How do you really feel about God? Mom, I don’t love Him. Good. We can deal with that and He already did. I struggle to love Him even on my best days. Let’s figure this thing out together.

As disciple makers of God’s it is our job to get in deep with others and hear things we don’t want to hear. We hear it for the sake of God as it enables us to be peacemakers. We can’t speak truth to a lie. We can be givers of light when darkness is revealed. Do not be afraid. We are simply a tool of God’s.

Marcy Pedersen

 

 

 

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