“I’m bad,” she said.
I held her close.
“You are good. You are kind. You are loved. You are sweet,” I whispered the words in her ear.
I wasn’t just speaking those words to her. I was reminding myself of what I believed — thought I didn’t feel it in the moment.
That was many years ago. Now that I’m a Gaga to five, I’m seeing it fresh. I see my grown children who want nothing more than to be good parents, and how sometimes those little ones capture your heart one moment and push you to the limits the next.
Being a parent is messy. It’s hard. It’s wonderful. It’s exhausting. It’s where our faith matters the most.
I could lead a 1,000 people to Christ, but if my behind-the-doors faith falls to pieces at home, I’ve missed something exquisite.
There’s no pattern to living out your faith in the confines of your home, but there are ways that we can .
How can we be the church to our family when it’s messy at times?
Here’s 10 ways we can be the Church to our family:
- See as Jesus sees you
Even on my worst day Jesus sees the good in me. Sure, I’m going to run smack into the consequences of my own choices, but His love never goes away. He sees in me what I can’t see in myself yet.
Sometimes when our loved ones act out, we throw our own tantrum.
I’ve done it myself. It leads down a bad road where we all walk away just a little more damaged than when we began.
You can set boundaries and enforce consequences, but when they look in your eyes let them see that you are their safe place.
- Make home your biggest ministry priority
God has allowed me to minister all over the world and that is a privilege!
But if this little angel sees me reaching out to everyone else while she comes last, I’ve missed out on my greatest opportunity. Follow your heart in ministry, but give your best to those in your own home.
- Show, don’t tell
There are too many words spoken about faith. Use words sparingly, and show them who Jesus is to you.
But Suzie, my child isn’t saved.
Do you know what impacts the heart of a child the greatest, especially those who are running from Christ? It’s when they see a parent who should be agonized over their child’s choices finding peace and comfort and joy in their faith instead.
It’s what they remember when they come to the end of themselves.
My mom was hurting, but I still saw joy. My mom was angry, but she reacted with calm. My choices hurt her heart, but somehow she still had peace.
If it’s as powerful as He says, why wouldn’t we pray over our marriage, over our children, over our parents, over our decisions as a family.
Pray daily. Whisper words, not out of fear, but assurance that God is listening.
- Become forgetful
Once it’s done and dealt with, forget it. It’s a new day. A fresh slate. Just like Jesus offers you and me.
Don’t bring it up after they’ve apologized. Don’t use it as ammunition on a day when you’re frazzled or when you want to make them feel bad for what they once did.
- Admit when you are wrong
Admitting when we are wrong is simply acknowledging that we are all imperfect.
It’s owning our mistake.
It’s letting the people you love know that you are aware that those words or that action impacted them and they matter enough to say you are sorry.
- Touch someone
A hand on the shoulder. A kiss on the cheek. Nestling your face on his chest before he goes to work. A kiss that lasts longer than three seconds. It’s such a little gift to give, but so powerful.
A tousle of the hair. A hug. A high five when they do something right. A kiss on the head when they feel they’ve messed up.
You know that person your child becomes when she’s around friends? The one laughing and having a good time? You long for them to be that way with you.
Sometimes our child looks at us and sees the same thing.
Laugh often. It doesn’t have to be so serious all the time.
- Slow down
Yes, you’re busy. Your calendar is marked in red, yellow, and blue. There’s places to go and things to do.
In the end, lots of those things will not mean a thing. The person standing in front of you will. Spend time in their presence, not as a to-do, but a get-to.
- Let God fill you up
For some of you, your relationships in your family aren’t working and that’s so hard. You want them to be fixed. You want what you see others have.
Let God fill you up. He’s your need-meeter. Even in the best of relationships, no one person is big enough to meet your needs. It’s a burden that isn’t their (or yours) to bear.
But God can, and does. When He becomes our need-meeter, it fills those gaps. It allows you to do the nine other things on this list. It would be foolish and hurtful for me to assume that every person reading this has a great marriage, or that there are no issues with a child or loved one.
Sometimes there are seasons that are so hard in our families and that can leave us empty. Let God fill you up. Let Him meet that need for unconditional love. For patience. To see in you the good. To hold you close when you have a really bad day and you forget Whose you are.
Let Him hold you and say, “You are good. You are sweet. You are kind. You are loved.”
Just You and God
Q: What is one way you can be the Church to your family today?
Q: Read 1 John 3:18. Forget about words for a moment. What does your actions say?
If it’s not what you hope, don’t allow guilt to move in. It’s a useless emotion. Invite God into that sacred space and ask Him to show you one small change you can make, with His help.