Lately, my daughter’s been trying to relate God to everyday life – asking lots of questions, making statements about situations. A lot having to do with kids at school. Though we’re homeschooling, in California, we have the option of going through a charter. In our case, my daughter has the opportunity to take classes at a public school twice a week. And I loved this idea for the sake of teaching my kids how to live in the world, yet being not of the world. It definitely has its down sides, but my husband and I believe that for right now, this is the route God is leading us for our children. And though I’ve anticipated a practical working out of her five-year-old theology, I’ve sometimes found myself floundering at her questions. How do I explain this truth which goes so deep and wide, a truth that even requires faith, to someone who’s just discovering the world?
And I’ve remembered something about myself. Years ago I worked for Starbucks, and at one point, being a part of the management team, I was put in charge of training new partners. This didn’t last long, just because we were often short staffed. Eventually, it fizzled out.
But I remember getting frustrated as a teacher. The one explaining the how and why. I mean, making a coffee drink sounds simple, right? But not to me. My goal, and the company’s, was to craft a beverage as quickly and efficiently as possible. All the while making a connection with the customer.
So as I taught, I felt like I over-explained everything. Maybe I was confusing the barista-in-training and making this task much more complicated than I should?
Well, time passed, and about a year later, I was working the bar with another partner. We were dancing back there. Pumping out drinks, handed off with confidence, having fun, and making connections. At the end of our rush, I turned to my co-worker and said, “I love working bar with you! You do such a good job!”
To which she said with a little laugh, “You should. You trained me.”
And I’d forgotten. Not only had I forgotten, but I hadn’t even realized that she’d understood and practiced that which I taught her. For the first time, I realized someone had listened to me, and I’d actually trained someone to do their job well.
As I think of parenting, I remember this.
I get scared to death that I over-explain or even over-simplify.
Knowing God is the essential in life – I want my kids to grasp Him. And when my daughter asks why did God make bad guys? And is the boy at school a bad guy, because he doesn’t know Jesus? I’m stumped. And maybe that sounds simple to some, but to me, that’s a very big question. And I stumble through it, hoping she sees that we’re all sinners in need of Jesus. Hoping that she sees God didn’t make bad guys, but we choose our own paths.
And I wish there was a manual on this job – parenting – that I could tell her to turn to page one twenty four, and scroll my finger down the paragraphs to the exact right answer.
And I think to myself…ahem…that’s what the Bible’s for! To teach and instruct. Written as clearly as possible, because it’s written by God. But the Bible’s just another book if it doesn’t have the quickening of the Holy Spirit.
That’s the point for me as a parent. It’s the Holy Spirit who does the job of opening the eyes of understanding.
2 Timothy 2:15 says, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
And 1 Peter 3:15 says,“Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.”
My job as a parent is to know my God. To study to show myself approved – to be ready to give an answer with meekness and fear. And my job is to pray through it all, to wait on the Lord to bring quickening to the understanding of my children.
It takes faith, because it’s out of my control – and this can tempt me to worry.
Today, I’m encouraged as I remember the barista I trained. She listened to me. She chose to practice that which I taught. And she was great at her job. Not because of me. I only passed on what I’d learned.
And that’s what I’m doing with my children. Passing on what I’ve learned. And as I place them in the hands of the Lord by faith, I have hope that they’re listening, that the Holy Spirit will teach them, softening their hearts and leading them to understanding. That one day, they’ll be great in the Lord. Not because of me, but all because of Him.