It wasn’t going the way I hoped.
She was small. The temper tantrum was big. When she finally calmed down, she nestled in my arms.
“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 — though I didn’t feel it in the moment.
Being a parent is messy. It’s hard. It’s wonderful. It’s exhausting. It’s where our faith matters the most, long before we try to reach anyone else.
We will never be Jesus, but He lives inside of us and we can live that out in a way in our children’s or loved ones’ lives that they sense the truth of who He is.
This isn’t a to-do list. (I hate those.) Instead, it’s a heart issue as we hold up these areas to God and invite Him in. We will fail. Yet there’s a way to show Jesus in those moments, too.
10 ways to be Jesus to your family
- See them as Jesus sees you
Even on my worst day, Jesus sees the good in me. 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.
Instead, set boundaries and enforce reasonable consequences that will help them grow through their mistakes.
Yet, when they look in your eyes they know you are their safe place.
You believe BIG in them.
2. Make home your biggest ministry priority
God has allowed me to minister all over the world and that is a privilege. But if that tender child or that loved one sees me reaching out to everyone else while he or she comes last, it skews her view of what ministry means.
Follow your heart in ministry, but give your best to those in your own home. Give them the best laugh. The most sincere prayer. The feeling that there’s time for them in your world.
3. Show, don’t tell
There are way too many words spoken about faith. Use words sparingly. Show them who Jesus is to you. Show them who they are to Him. What impacts the heart of that child who is trying to figure out faith is a parent who lives it — not just the rules of it, but the day-to-day trust and love of walking with Jesus.
It’s what they’ll remember when they are ready to make their own decision.
Pray daily. Whisper words with assurance that God is listening. Whether you know it or not, they’re listening too. Instead of battling with them, you’re battling for them.
5. Become forgetful
Once it’s done and dealt with, forget it. It’s a new day. A fresh slate. Don’t bring it up after they’ve apologized. Refuse to 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.
6. Admit when you are wrong
Admitting when we are wrong is simply acknowledging that we are all imperfect. It’s letting the people you love know that you are aware that your words impact them. It’s an act of humility and grace and it leaves a sweet mark on their heart.
7. Touch someone
A hand on the shoulder. A kiss on the cheek. 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.
8. Remember to laugh
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.
9. Slow down
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 that take up your time and energy — those things that make you frazzled and impatient — will not mean a thing. The person standing in front of you will. Give yourself (and your family) permission to slow down.
10. Let God be 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.
Ask God to 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.”
Because you are. ♥
Read this verse
Q: What does your actions speak to those you love?
If it’s not what you hope, don’t allow guilt to move in. Invite God into that space and ask Him to show you one small change you can make, with His help.
Related resources by Suzanne (Suzie) Eller