Sunday, March 25, 2012
Finding the Courage to Use the Teachable Moment
When my oldest was two, we went to a church function where there was another little girl the same age as my son who looked up at a big crucifix and said, "Jesus" as she pointed at it. It was at that moment, it dawned on me that I needed to stop being afraid to talk about my faith to my child because he is old enough. My son did not know that there was Jesus on that cross, yet he could talk very well for his age and could count to 20 and identify 7 Thomas trains. For some reason, I gave myself a free pass to skip over the topic of religion because there is no way a kid as young as that could understand! How little did I know.
I've been reading a very good book that was recommended to me from some people who read my blog. It's called A Mother's Touch, by Elise Arndt. In it, Elise talks about how it can be embarrassing to talk about your faith in front of your children at first. She says most adults feel very inhibited when it comes to sharing their faith in with children in an informal setting and that it's normal to feel awkward at first. "It takes practice and a good deal of persistence to be able to express what I really feel about my relationship to Jesus. Many times I felt foolish and would have been embarrassed if I thought anyone but my children was listening to me." (A Mother's Touch, by Elise Arndt).
If only I had read that three years ago when I first tried to get out a few feeble words about God to my two year old son! After all, I taught Sunday School to preschoolers for three years while I was in college and never once felt awkward. Why was it so hard to get out the words, "Jesus loves you" while my son sat on my lap? I felt like I must have some hidden psychological issues if I can't talk to my two year old about God without having a book in front of me to read it from.
Little by little, I found the courage to talk about God and what I discovered was that the more you do it, the easier it becomes and the more natural it flows around daily life. There are many times it still feels awkward. It's easier too, when I'm not the one to initiate the conversation. My son often asks questions about God and I so delight in sharing what I have come to know. But there are many times when I could and should use everyday life to teach spiritual truths. Elise calls this "investing in your children," when you have to stop what you are doing, and take time out to teach in the moment. Teachers call it the "teachable moment"- when your student is prepped and ready for the lesson. Jesus did it to in the form of parables and used common, everyday examples to teach eternal truths. Like while weeding the soil, to talk about the weeds of sin (her example) or while going for a walk, to talk about the beauty of God's creation in everything around us. Elise specifically talks about the time when she watched how baby chicks drink. When the put their heads up to the sky, it's like their thanking God for the drink. There are so many times I could talk about spiritual things, but it will take some discipline on my part to stop what I am doing. I do get engrossed in my work and everything else that needs to be done.
I am confident that in time, I will find more and more courage to use the moment to give a spiritual lesson or two. Although I know that it takes just as much self control to stop and smell the flowers. Grace happens in the moment. Not in the past or future, but in the present. (something I need to remember!)