Parenting as a Refining Tool

I’m scrolling through my Facebook a few weeks ago, and, as usual, one of the kids is spying on what I’m reading. Yes. this does mean that I have to make sure my feed is clean. No problem there. I’m pretty careful about what I let into my mind anyway. Mostly the kids like to see the pictures.

“Who is that?” they ask about each and every one that they don’t recognize.

“Nobody that you know… I know their parents,” seems to be the usual answer.

Now Facebook has started posting suggested posts, and these beg the same questions.

“Who’s that?” And of course I don’t know. It’s an advertisement.

“What are they doing?” I look at the picture and give a quick answer as to what I assume they are doing. I really just want to move on and finish scrolling through the posts.

Back to that particular day. It was a Saturday, and I was sitting down to relax for a few minutes. The picture is of the backs of a group of people with their hands raised toward a stage with colorful lights and a musical group.. I answer the “What are they doing?” question asked by my eight year old girl.

“They are worshiping at church.”

“No, they are not. They’re at a party,” she responds.

“Why do you think they are at a party?”

“Easy. Look at them with their arms up. People don’t do that at church. They are at a party.”

I definitely stopped scrolling and talked with her a bit about how worship can look different in different setting and with different people. She noted that the people probably raised their hands toward God to feel closer to Him.

That was pretty much the end of the conversation for her, but for me it has continued on in my mind for weeks.  While I know that it is perfectly fine for each of us to worship in ways that  fit us, I also had to consider whether my worship was genuine. It’s been a conversation of legalism and true worship, of falling into routine and out of relationship, of what it means to worship my ever worthy Savior, and whether I am indeed passing on that message to my kids.

Tough questions. Am I going through the motions without really meaning it? Am I trying to earn approval instead of accepting the FREE gift of GRACE? I’m afraid that is my tendency when I am not being intentional.

All of this has lead me to ask another question. If I am not under the bondage of earning approval or being perfect, then what should be dominating my life. One word I have been dwelling on: Freedom. Freedom in the gospel of Christ.

What does this have to do with a picture of people in worship? For me, this: I am very introverted. I don’t like to express myself publicly. I am comfortable with quiet worship. I like routine. I like feeling safe. A lot. But I need to not be comfortable with those alone. Genuine worship  needs to be intimate and intentional. That is what the picture on Facebook was portraying. It’s not that people can’t worship intimately without a band and lights and raised hands. It’s that it’s become too easy for me to go through the motions. And when I am really honest with myself, I long for that intimacy with God more than I allow myself to act upon it.

This is not over. I am praying through some struggles with my flesh. My testimony in short is “Judged by the world; Loved unconditionally by God”. It’s up to me to continue believing this latter reality.  And, like I learned in Max Lucado’s You Are Special, that takes going every day for intimate time with my Maker. And it takes being humble, vulnerable, and trusting while I am there.

I’m so thankful that my children ask questions that help to refine me, tochallenge me to be more like Christ.

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