Choosing to build a grace-filled home is certainly something we do to bless our children. But the echoes of grace is also a blessing that is returned to us in the here and now!
My preschool-aged daughter isn’t always a fan of sharing the details of her day. Oftentimes, I can only extract some barely noteworthy tidbit before she implements her exit strategy like I’m some kind of over-invasive paparazzo.
Well, if I’m being honest, maybe I am a “mama-razzi” of sorts…
Of course there’s the constant photo snapping. And maybe I have a tiny obsession with the kind of TMI details that I’m sure celebrity photogs just lust after (i.e. “Did you wash your hands after using the toilet?”) But most of all, there’s the thrill I get from running covert surveillance on my children during playtime.
At this tender age, there are few things that allow me to glimpse the hearts of my children better than watching them act out their thoughts, hopes and fears in the perceived safety of playtime. Imaginative play seems to tame inhibition just enough, to the point that a child can finally express thoughts and feelings in ways he cannot (or will not) otherwise articulate.
(And I love it when they think I’m not watching—I think of it as probably closest thing to Reality TV we might experience in our homes… unless of course, you’ve had an actual Reality TV crew in your home… ).
Let me give you an example of what I mean. Recently, my husband spent the better part of an afternoon playing “pretend” with our daughter in our yard. As the afternoon skies slipped into dinnertime dusk, my daughter excitedly divulged the theme for one last scenario:
“Daddy! I know—let’s play ‘Grocery Store!’ I’m going to get in my car to drive to the store. You stand outside and hold a sign asking for money because you don’t have any. Then I’m going to drive up before I go in the store and give you some money so you can get food, okay?”
Initiate jaw-drop in 3… 2… 1…
Now, I wasn’t totally surprised by my daughter’s choice of theme—we have always made it a point to demonstrate to our children the importance of caring for the poor. However, I never imagined that our penchant for doling out McDonald’s gift cards to hungry strangers would become fodder for our preschooler’s dramatic play.
And yet, our stun turned to joy as we realized that our daughter was beginning to dabble in the life of grace that we continually hope and pray our children will one day fully embrace. Furthermore, it opened our eyes to the fact these experiences have already shaped her concept of how the world works: those who have an abundance should give to those who have need. In her mind, this practice is just as commonplace as making a run to the grocery store (at least for now it is!).
At that moment I let out a mini “Hallelujah.”
Choosing to build a grace-filled home is certainly something we do to bless our children (and hopefully their children, and so on). But the echoes of grace don’t just bound down the hallowed halls of some distant future—what a treasure it is when the blessing is returned to us in the here and now!
This is the promise of Psalms 8:2:
“Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger” (NIV).
When we devote our lives to grace-focused parenting, we do more than just pack our kids full of lifeless trivia about spiritual matters. Children in grace-filled homes experience our loving and merciful God to the extent that they can actually participate in our efforts to fortify our families in righteousness against evil.
What’s more, that afternoon we were also made keenly aware of the fact that this might be the way our daughter chooses to play “pretend” with other kids in the neighborhood, churched and unchurched. And honestly, that’s just fine with me. Unconventional? Absolutely. But if God so chooses to work through our children to build homes/neighborhoods/schools/churches filled with His glory and grace, who wouldn’t want to steal a glimpse of that!?
Written by Michelle Hutchison