Let’s just get right to it. My kids are spoiled. It’s actually not their fault though. Their parents! What a hot mess those two are….oh, wait….whose kids are we talking about again? Mine? Crap. Well, my kids or not, it’s true and God has been dealing with me about it for quite some time. I wanted to write this sooner, I really did, but I was terrified that I would mess it up. But things this important can only stir in our hearts so long before they must come out.
God usually speaks to me when I’ve had far to little sleep and even less coffee and this time was no exception. It was the last week of school and our kids were already antsy. We’d spent the weekend before frantically running around our town looking for the awe-inspiring-had-to-have-or-we-are-gonna-die fidget spinners and Amazon finally came through for the win. Our oldest child was so excited to get his fidget spinner on Monday but by Wednesday afternoon, in true first-world fashion, he was bored with his. He was explaining to me his big “trade” that would only require his current spinner and nine extra dollars in exchange for an American Flag spinner. I laughed out loud at him for his incredulous (and ungrateful) request but he was determined. He tried to reason with me and when that didn’t work he resorted to begging. When he realized he was making no head-way with that tactic either, he pulled out the deadly “I’m mad at you” trick from his hat. He snubbed up and got out of the car without so much as a goodbye. I shouted how much I loved him to cold silence and his backside as he walked into school. Devastation. I slowly began to drive away and fought the tears back. I mean, how could I make my kid furious with me and let him leave that way, all before 8 a.m. and only a half cup of coffee!! I audibly spoke to God.
“Oh Lord, help me be a better mama. I just want my babies to be happy.” No sooner than I got the words out of my mouth I heard him speak right back to me. “No, I don’t want them to be happy as much as I want them to be holy.” He could have hit me upside the head with a brick and I wouldn’t have been as stunned. When the Lord speaks, he never minces words; right to the point and it almost always inflicts the pain of a good lesson. Suddenly my perspective changed and my parenting did, too. I pondered on those words that day and many of the days that followed. I’ve spent countless hours studying scripture and taking notes just so I could wrap my head around what it really means to raise holy children. While I’ve in no way got it all figured out, I think I’m beginning to get the idea.
Holy people are people that are living according to a highly moral spiritual system. They are set apart for sacred use. I want my children’s lives to be set apart for God’s sacred use but that requires intentional parenting. At the rate we were going, we were cruising along by the world’s standards and didn’t really focus on much more than getting by in the day to day grind of life. Thankfully, God left his word to guide us.
“I am using an example from your everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things lead to death but now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6: 19-23
Holy people are righteous. Righteous people uphold God’s standards of living as outlined in his word. They are truthful and just, using God’s wisdom to speak and act (think Solomon). Holy people deny themselves and their selfish desires to take up the cross and follow the way that God is leading them (Mark 8: 34) Holy people can experience hard times and persevere (think David). They can pray through circumstances in their lives and use it for God’s glory (think Job). Holy people exercise self-control given to them by the Holy Spirit (think Esther).
I almost get scared when I look at the description of what a Holy person looks like. The world we are living in, raising our children in, is so far from any of it that it makes my chest heavy. Can we do it? Can we raise holy children in such a self-pleasing, I-want-it-now, anything goes culture? In a world where selfish desires are exploited as free and fun and self-control is a thing of the past, is it possible to raise holy warriors for Christ?? I say it is and, in this family, it started with saying no to the fidget spinner deal. Was he happy to hear the word no? Uh, no. Obviously. Did he survive and was he a happy, chatty 5th grader when I picked him up that afternoon? Absolutely.
In this house, we’ve decided to take the road less traveled. We are saying no more often and we are talking about why. We are having conversations about holiness and what it means to deny the flesh, persevere and pray though our troubles. We are showing them how temporary happiness (like the fidget spinner) can never lead to eternal joy (like living for God can). Today it seems almost like abuse if you don’t get your kid whatever they want or cater to their every need and quite frankly, it’s making it hard to do this parenting thing!! We hurt our kids chances of eternal salvation when we give in to their every desire. When we don’t teach them to obey us and authority, how can we expect them to obey God when he speaks in their lives? If we don’t teach them to deny the flesh now, how will they stand up against peer pressure, pornography and pre-marital sex? Yep, raising holy children is surely the road less traveled these days. It’s the harder road, for sure, but it leads straight to Heaven so it’s worth the risk. <3