This transcript has been edited for clarity.
Emily: Welcome back to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I’m Emily Jensen here with my sister-in-law, Laura Wifler, and you are probably gearing up for Christmas.
Laura: It’s only a couple of weeks away.
Emily: It’s very exciting and we wanted to let you guys know that this is going to be, probably our last Risen Motherhood podcast for the year. Do not worry—we’re coming back but like most of you guys, we have family stuff and a million other things going on. We know you do too, so we are going to take a couple week breather here but we are going to be back in January. As we were ending the year, we thought, hey, this is a season that is generally marked by a lot of joy and exciting things, but it’s also a very, very busy time of the year where it’s so easy to lose focus on what really matters in our parenting, and to lose focus on what our goal is as parents. We wanted to do a sendoff episode for 2016 to inspire you guys to think about that for when you come out of the Christmas fog. [laughs]
Laura: Yes, when you have the detox of your children—that’s what I like to call it. They’re back in the routine, eating a little bit better, and sleeping a little bit better; all of those things. This is still stuff that you can do even today, because it’s so important, as we always talk about here on Risen Motherhood, of being an intentional mom. The big thing that we want to talk about today is as moms, we often think about, “What’s my great impact? What is my mark on the world? What am I leaving?” I think we would all agree that that’s our children. As mothers, that is what we are sending forth. It’s the next generation but what does that mean? How are we different from society? What makes us, as believing moms, moms who believe in the resurrection, what makes us different and how does that impact look?
Emily: It also approaches the way that we parent and what things we pass along to them. In general, our culture says children need to be trained up to be good and moral. Maybe not even moral sometimes, but good contributors to society. The gold standard is that you would have a successful job, that you would be well educated, that you would have a lot of finances, that you would be well known, but as Christian moms, we are pointing our children towards eternity. We are trying to equip them to follow Jesus and to be able to process through that. More so than just training our children to do good things on the outside for the sake of it, we want to train them that they are sinners who need Jesus, and only by his power are going to do good works, and make contributions that are lasting for eternity, and teaching them how to deal with their sin, and their failure by being dependent on God. That is a totally different mindset than your standard, “Hey, treat people kindly because it’s going to get you further in life.”
Laura: I was telling Emily about this poster I had in my room growing up that said, “Stand up for what is right even if you’re standing alone.” It had this little image of a stick man with his arms in the air praising Jesus, but it made a real impact on me of wanting to stand up. I was thinking about how I might have to do that someday at school because I want to stand up for Jesus. Those are little high school thoughts but it definitely exemplifies what this is about—we want to raise our children to not follow society, to not pursue security or comfort or success or popularity, but instead to pursue Christ, so that no matter what, when they don’t have those things, when that security, comfort, success and popularity is ripped away, that they still want to do what is right. That they still want to honor God, and that they have a firm foundation. How do we do that? How can we get our kids to think outside of themselves and their own personal goals and need and want to be thinking like Jesus and yet at the same time, be comfortable with it? How do we teach them not just what to think to be a good person but how to think and how to process and make decisions? That’s what we’re going to chat through today.
Emily: I’m like an ancient parent. I have a four-year old. I’ve realized and started to see how you really can get to a point with a child where they will obey you, and can make the right choice but then I’ve noticed that sometimes my oldest son will follow my direction with a wrong heart. It is like Laura said, drawing out and learning how to teach him, “Okay, why am I asking you not to hit your brothers with a stick? It is not just for the sake of you’re going to injure them. It is because you need to think about them. How do you think that makes your brothers feel and how do you think that makes God feel?” We’ll get into that more but it’s that, “Hey, it’s not just about the outward action,” because God is about more than just the outward action. He is about our heart.
Laura: That’s right. But how do we do that? How do we teach them how to think? First, we have to teach them the gospel. That is the most important thing. Since it’s Risen Motherhood, here is the gospel. Our children are different and we are different as believers. We have to teach them who they are and that they’re not going to be the same as some of their neighbors; they’re not going to be the same as some of their friends. They’re going to act differently and that’s because they are different. We want to teach them to not live for today and the worldly comforts, but instead to look forward and ahead to the coming of the King. That’s hard to teach a three-year old, let’s be honest. It’s like, “Here’s your identity in Christ and you need to long for God’s redemptive story to come.” That’s really hard but what that really is, is helping your children embrace, as Jen Wilkin says, embracing their strangeness or embracing their alienness. That’s helping them to understand that we’re different because we love God, and because he matters to us, and he makes us different, and that is a good thing instead of just, “You can’t say those potty words because they are wrong.” This gives them a reason. We want to teach them to love God’s law in order to want to obey God because, again, more Jen Wilkin, the heart cannot love what the mind does not know. That applies to us as moms and it applies to our children.
Emily: Then also, I think being radical as you’re raising your children and getting them comfortable with that, and getting them comfortable with making sacrifices for the sake of others, whether it’s a small thing of like, “I know you really wanted that cookie but we need think about your brother and what would be in his best interests. Let’s give that to him even though you may not get that.” Of course, that would incite a massive tantrum [laughter] but those are good things to be teaching and talking to them about how we are to lay down our lives. We are to be wise, and we want to use our resources. I know that a lot of time, my husband is really good about telling our kids, “This is our house and these are God’s things and we want to give them away.” Our time is the Lord’s time and all of those things of reminding them that it is worthwhile to give everything to God even if there is a cost to us.
Laura: That takes more time and parenting. I think Emily you said that would ensue a massive tantrum [laughter] and that’s why most of us are like, “Okay, whatever, everyone can have cookies and we’ll figure this out.” But like you said, it’s so worthwhile. Those are opportunities to teach our children proper response, teaching them how to process, how to think about such things, so that someday when they hopefully leave the nest, they can make those decisions. Because you haven’t created a robot or a Pharisee, but instead you’ve created a child that says, “No, I see that things are better when I follow God’s law. I see how these things work to refine me and make me a more well-rounded person or just because I know that I want to obey God because I love what He’s done for me.”
Emily: And even that that like better [00:09:13] I talked to my oldest son about this, of it may not seem like it’s good in the way that we think of good, but it is the most satisfying thing. It’s the thing that’s going to bring us joy in the long-term. It is what is best for us and we can believe God that even if our circumstances didn’t turn out the way we wanted, we can trust that if we are following his law, it’s for our good. It’s those types of conversations that probably fly over their head and make them mad when they’re little, but I pray that it starts to sink in.
Laura: We are speaking, again, not from success in having children out there that are super awesome. We hope that, but we have learned these things from older wiser women who have taught us, and we’ve seen their children grow up and we hope that our children can become like theirs. These are things that we want to share with you of, “How do you do that with a three-year old,” and we’re in this stage with you, or a four-year old, whatever, but know that we are speaking from what wiser women have instilled in us. How does this work? What’s this look like? First and foremost, you’ve got to walk what you talk. You can’t tell your child, “Quiet times are so important and you need to have one,” if you never have one or, “Hey, let’s pray to God,” but they never see mom on her knees. You need to model those rhythms of a life that loves the Lord. You want to draw your children to it to say, “I always loved seeing my mom’s trust in God. That is something that I desire to model,” or, “My mom was fearless. She was a fearless woman because she had hope in God.” There are so many things I remember of my mom from growing up and I’m like, “Man, I want to emulate that from my mother.” Much of that, I know, was from spiritual practices, rhythms in her life of spending time with the Lord, and so I knew she was authentic. I knew especially as I got older that what she said was true, because she modeled it in her own life.
Emily: Another thing is giving them a foundation of knowledge to draw off of. We already mentioned sharing the gospel with our children and making sure that they know that really well, but everything from Bible stories, to theology, to understanding why we certain things as a family, or why we make certain decisions, and how that’s consistent with God’s teaching, and why it is for their good and all of those types of conversations. Something I struggled with from time to time is, “My child hasn’t accepted Christ yet so am I brainwashing them or something?” But when you think about, if your child, let’s say they’re in your house for their whole life until they’re 18 and you never see them accept Christ, but they have all of this stuff that you’ve poured into them. Even if they’re not ready to use it yet, Lord willing, if they go out and God works in their heart, and they do become a follower of Christ, imagine what a gift it will be for them to be able to start off with all of what they already have in their mind, and in their heart about who God is. It’s like, we don’t flip that switch for them. We cannot give them salvation, but we can certainly give them an arsenal of truth that, Lord willing, if and when they accept Christ, they can start from maturity. That is a huge gift that we give, often times, through knowledge.
Laura: And that’s a huge thing. I am a huge advocate for communication, “Just talk to one another. Air what you’re feeling. We can deal with knowing what you’re doing or what you’re feeling or why, if you just talk about it.” That’s something that you want to do with your kids, is constantly talk about God. We have multiple episodes on things like this. We’ll list them in the show notes of some of these that fit but talking about like, “Hey, God loves this. God doesn’t like that. Why? Why doesn’t he like these things? Is it that a swear word is really that bad?” My kids love to yell potty talk words and, “Diaper!” [laughter] they think it’s so funny. But sometimes, they’ve said these things in an unkind manner and so that’s something where we sit down and talk. Okay, the word ‘diaper’ or … I can’t even bring myself to say it on air, [laughter] other bathroom terms. Those words aren’t bad in and of themselves but it’s your heart motivation; it’s your intent.
Talking through those things and not wigging out just because a word was said and we just don’t say that in this house. It’s a conversation about what does God love? Why does he love it when you speak like that? And why is he sad when you speak in the other way?
Emily: I’m totally with you. Those are all things that I feel like I’m processing through. Another thing that I want to mention that I’m going to piggyback off of is helping your children figure out how to think for themselves like this, which often I want to jump in and give my children a monologue and preach to them. Go into preacher mommy mode and say, “This is why we do this and why we don’t do that.”
Instead, I’m finding that I need to stop and get on my children’s level and say, “Why do you think that?” or, “How do you think that made your brother feel?” “How do you think God wants you to treat that person?” or maybe bringing a scripture to them and saying, “Remember, whoever loves God must also love their brother. Do you think that was a loving way to treat your brother?”
What’s really amazing is that even my four-year old, I can watch the wheels turn in his mind and he’ll look at me and go, “No, I don’t think it was,” or, “That made God sad, mommy.” It’s cool because I’m watching him now start to process so that I don’t have to stand and preach and tell him, “Hey, this was wrong,” or, “That was wrong.” He can start to reason there for himself and Lord willing, that will get more and more as he gets older.
I think the goal is to teach our children that they’re always worshiping something with their head, and their heart, and their words, and their hands, and their feet, and everything they do, all of their talents need to be done in worship of God. We can teach them to love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength, and then when they fail and fall short of that, which they will over and over again, we can teach them how to turn to Jesus, and ask for forgiveness, and be dependent on God for their salvation. Then pray that they believe that is true. [laughs]
Laura: We should have spent a little more time on that one.
Emily: Yes, because the ball is not all in our court. We don’t have total control over it.
Laura: We had a few more, but maybe we’ll hop on and do a Facebook Live video or something like that because we are hitting our time here, but thank you so much for tuning in. We hope you guys all have a wonderful Christmas. If you want more information on this, head over to our show notes risenmotherhood.com and in all of our social media sites, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, @RisenMotherhood. Remember, we are taking a couple of weeks break but we will be back in January so look for us on social media. We’ll let you know when we’ll be back. We’re excited. 2017 is going to be a great year. We’ve got some really fun things planned so we hope you guys will all join us back there. I think that’s it. Have a wonderful holiday.