I have been trying to run regularly. Brent and I started out doing a couch to 5K program. Since then, his doctor told him that because of his back condition, he can only walk briskly, but I am determined to complete the program . . . even if it kills me!!!! I don’t particularly love to run, but it has been good. I have been spending the time praying for people, particularly my family. In my prayer time, I have found myself asking and wondering what is truly important for my kids, particularly James and Jason, as they are getting older and their time at home is becoming shorter . . . Blah!!!
It’s been a tough year for James academically, particularly second semester. I say that only because school always seemed so easy for him, but it has gotten harder, and he has had more difficulty with it. A lot of it is because of his social life and possibly his priorities not being on the right things. I think because it always came so easily he has had to learn a hard lesson that sometimes it takes more work then you expect. But as I have been praying for him, for balance, for perseverance, for a good work ethic, I have also been thinking about how he has changed and how social he has become. This has not been a bad thing. He has a HUGE impact, or at least the opportunity to have a HUGE impact on his peers. If he was coming straight home every day and only doing homework, he would not have the friends he has or the opportunities he has to show them Jesus. Now, does that excuse poor work ethic? Of course not, the Bible says, “Do your work as unto the Lord.” This goes for students as well. But it has caused me to stop and think about things.
Parents can sometimes tend to focus on the wrong things. For some, it is athletic ability; for others, their child’s social life. For us, in the case of James, it has been his academic abilities and his potential. There is a difficult balance in this. Definitely there are great things that kids learn as a result of sports, social life, academics, drama, or any other extracurricular activities, and we, as parents, should encourage them in these areas. However, how often do we get too focused on these things, and forget the child’s heart. I don’t mean their salvation. I think most parents who love Jesus WANT their children to know Jesus, but I also think that after that decision is made, we sometimes become negligent of helping them grow in Christ, in helping their hearts develop to be like Jesus’s heart. How many times a week, how many hours a week, do we have our children practice sports or work on their multiplication tables or on their writing? How many hours a week do we have our children really seek to discern how the Lord is working on their hearts? For me, personally, it is a sad reality that the second is significantly less. I think, for some reason, that I just expected that after salvation, the rest would follow. There are many times in the day that I point my children toward Jesus, but how often is it truly intentional? How often do I really encourage them to seek to figure out how God is convicting them? Yet, I spend a lot of time reminding them to finish Geometry or spelling or whatever is on their plate.
I am now including in my running prayer time, that I will be a mom who focuses on the right things with my children. I want to encourage them in the areas where they excel, but what I want them to excel most at is being like Jesus. As their mom, as their greatest encourager, this needs to be my focus. All their abilities are temporary. They could be gone so quickly. I was no star athlete in high school. In fact, if any of my high school volleyball teammates read this, they might laugh at even the mention of it, but I was busy with other extracurricular activities, and I was very focused academically and made good grades. I also remember the day at church camp the summer between my junior and senior year when I had my first seizure, and I remember the day I was diagnosed with epilepsy and started on medication, and I remember how that changed my life, and how much it complicated things for the first few months. I struggled academically as I adjusted to new medication. I could not drive. I’m sure if I had been playing any sports at the time, I would not have been able to do it because I could barely get through a day of school from being so tired. There is about a month of my senior year that I really can’t remember because I was such a mess from the medication. The loss of abilities can happen so fast. They could be lost by an injury, an accident, health, anything. But what is in a child’s heart is there forever. Obviously, a person’s heart can go astray. But I believe the values that have been cultivated and grown, can be drawn out of them again. And if they have been cultivated well, it is probably less likely that they will go astray. I wrote in my status update on Facebook, Lord, help me raise my children to have hearts for YOU, and not get too focused on what they can and cannot do.
It’s hard . . . We made a decision this year not to allow David to compete in gymnastics. It was a HARD decision for me. He is a great little gymnast, and he loves it. It’s fun to watch him, and it’s fun for him (and for us, if I am to be honest) for him to get attention for his abilities. Brent had to remind me many times that we always said we would not let sports consume our children or our family when they were that young, if ever. It was still hard, and I know people in our lives who thought it was the wrong decision. I will say that we did not necessarily make the decision for the reasons I have written here, but I am glad that we made the decision now that I am pondering all of this. It is just too much for a child his age to go to school, do homework, practice like he was going to have to practice, and grow in his relationship with Jesus . . . and too much for the parents to be able to stay on top of. We would have neglected the cultivating of his heart, I am sure!
I’m sure I have friends out there who will read this and disagree with me. There are probably others who can, or think they can, do all of it. There are many people who balance better than we do, I know that to be a fact. That’s okay . . . I just feel convicted by it, and wanted to share. The important thing is that we focus on our children’s hearts, on helping them to have hearts like Jesus, who loved and served others.