Last night my wife experienced an incredible moment with our oldest son. We had returned home from a church event where the boys had an opportunity to spend time with some of their friends. My oldest had spotted a friend that he wanted to go and greet, one he hadn’t seen in some time. As he began to approach he suddenly felt insecure and backed away. He was quite troubled by this experience and didn’t know what to make of it. Bonnie noticed his anxiety and asked if he was OK. At this point he isn’t quite old enough to really express what he’s feeling with much detail. But Bonnie grasped pretty quickly what the issue was. She spent the next few moments talking with him about why we all sometimes feel insecure and how to deal with it. She reminded him of what a wonderful boy he is and how it is God’s love for us that gives us our security and identity in every situation. It was amazing to watch. A holy, teaching moment that unfolded right in front of my eyes.
How do we multiply moments like this with our children? Two words come immediately to mind. Attentiveness and discernment. Bonnie noticed something in our son’s demeanor that piqued her interest. She followed up. She gently probed to get the relevant story. It amazes me how easy it is for parents (myself included) to miss the obvious. Most children aren’t sophisticated enough to mask their feelings. They may not be able to communicate them clearly, but they don’t hide them well at all. We must pay attention to what’s going on and engage with our children. Next, we must discern what is really going on. It goes beyond interpreting our children’s words and understanding what they are trying to say. It is discerning with the help of the Holy Spirit what isn’t being said and what is at stake. Insecurity is an attack on identity. It is an arrow at the heart of our children. It is a lie that says you aren’t loved and valued. It says that to be accepted and loved you have to be someone other than yourself. It is a spiritual issue that requires a spiritual response. The antidote for a lie is the truth. We must learn to embrace the truth about our identity and to teach it to our children. Bonnie reminded our son of who he is. She reminded him that he is loved by God and that provides him identity and security. Truth overcomes lies. It sets us free. When attentiveness meets discernment and truth is spoken to our children in love – then a genuine teaching moment happens.
Don’t miss the opportunities to share these moments with your children. Tune in to their hearts and engage them in the moments when they need reminders of the truth of who God made them to be. Allow the Holy Spirit to place a holy finger on the issue at hand. And cooperate with His Word for the issue that sets us free. These are holy, teaching, connecting moments that have eternal value. Oh, and by the way, they bring a lot of joy along for the ride as well.