A few weeks ago, I shared about the four words from the Wingfeather Saga that are changing my life:
Remember who you are.
But these words aren’t just changing the way I look at myself. They are changing and informing the way I parent my children. The mom in the story, Nia, spoke these words to her children, and I’ve been pondering ways I can say this to my own kids. Who are they? And how can I remind them of that?
One, day, when my boys were very little, I was praying for them, and the Lord led me to a couple of very specific verses based on the names we have given them.
“My servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly.” Numbers 14:24
“Your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before the Lord.” 1 Kings 22:19
It amazes me how every year, my understanding of these verses deepens, how they name and inform my boys’ innate personalities, but also how these words have the ability to call out the very best in them. God keeps challenging me with new depths to these two stories of men who followed hard after him: Caleb, the mighty warrior who had the courage to stand against a multitude and believe God’s promise was true, and Josiah, the zealous king who tore down idols and wept when the Book of the Law was read in his presence.
My Caleb can be downright different sometimes, and it takes someone who is willing to be different to stand against a scared mob and trust that God will do what he said he would do. And Garrett (Josiah is his middle name) responds with his whole heart in almost everything he does. When he combines it with humility, that trait makes him kind and passionate and deeply committed to what he believes is right.
I know Caleb and Garrett’s God-given identities will continue to take on flesh in a thousand different ways as they go through life and grow and change, but these verses name the very best in my kids and call it out in them. That’s why these are the words I want to be deepest in my kids’ hearts. Deeper than the enemy’s lies. Deeper than the ways I’ve accused and misunderstood them in my less-than-stellar parenting moments. Deeper than their fears or what the world says or how things look from the outside. I want them to know who they are
If you, like me, want to know who your kids are, at their very God-breathed core, but you don’t know where to start, here are a few ideas to get you going:
- What are your deepest dreams for your child? This is not about you wanting them to play football, because those kinds things can be taken away in an instant by circumstances. Even professional players have to retire eventually, and usually pretty young. But who do you want your kids to be after they hang up their cleats for the last time? Honest? Righteous? Brave? Dream big.
- Why did you choose your child’s name? Does your child’s name mean something special to you? Did you name him or her after someone? What do these things say to you about who you want your child to be?
- What emerging personality traits do you see in your child? Think of both the things you love and the things that most frustrate you. Chances are, your child’s greatest challenges can be gifts in disguise. In that strong-willed girl are the seeds of a woman who won’t cave to peer pressure. That kid that cries at the drop of a hat? His compassionate heart might be one that fights to give justice to the oppressed. Prayerfully consider the ways that your child’s weaknesses could turn out to be their greatest strengths.
- What kind of family culture are you building? What family values do you all hold? For example, in our home, Reasoners are game-players. We like to go camping. We are people who pray and worship together. We love to read. What does it mean to be a part of your family?
Once you’ve identified who your children are, and who they are becoming, make a point to call these things out in them. Here are a few ways you can begin doing that today:
Display who they are in your home
A few of years ago, I had a local artist, design and paint my boys’ verses as art I could hang in their room. They are one of my very favorite things in our home. (If you’re in Southwest Missouri, you need to check out Heather’s stuff; it’s amazing.)
Make them learn it by heart
It was important to me to make my boys memorize their verses. It’s easier because we homeschool – it was the very first memory work we assigned to them this year. But even if they were in public school, I would have made a point to make them learn these words by heart. If you don’t have a verse that names your children the way these do for mine, ask the Lord to lead you to one. Or craft a statement that speaks to things you’re trying to call out in them and make them learn that.
Pray these things over them
Pray both aloud and to yourself. Speak it over them all the time. Tell them who they are, and make them repeat it back to you if you have to. Show them that you see them for more than how they are acting right now right now, and you will in essence, be saying to them Remember Who You Are.