I recently saw a variation of the following question and it made me stop and think....REALLY think!
What three things are the most important lessons you would like your children to learn? If you could only be assured that three things would always stick with them, what would you choose?
For those of you that really know me, you know just choosing three things is difficult for me. Can't tell you how many times I've been told to just turn my brain off or to stop thinking so deeply! I usually have NOVELS of thoughts, wishes, desires, what-ifs, ideas, etc.. floating around in my head! So to choose JUST three wasn't an easy task, but I did come up with mine.
1) Faith in God
I would choose to make sure that my kids have a deep rooted PERSONAL faith in God. It's not about religion, it's about relationship. It's not about ATTENDING church, it's about BEING the church. It's not about just doing what your parents do, it's about knowing why THEY believe it. It's not about people-pleasing, it's about God-pleasing. My thoughts are that if THEY have their own deep rooted faith in God, every other single thing will fall into place. Going through the motions isn't good enough. I want their faith so deep and strong that they can not just survive in the real world, but that they can flourish in any situation. Just as mentioned at church yesterday, I want them to be salt and light. Adding salt to a dish doesn't diminish the flavor of the salt, the rest of the dish takes on the flavor of the salt. Darkness doesn't engulf light, light overtakes darkness. If they are deep rooted in their OWN PERSONAL faith and have been given every chance to allow that to grow as a child, they are prepared to be salt and light. With deep rooted faith, the Holy Spirit can and WILL guide them through every other aspect of their lives. WHEN, NOT if, they mess up they will know that they are covered in grace and forgiveness and can begin again. Their faith can carry them through EVERY single obstacle and move every single mountain they will face. Granted, it will NEVER be an easy path and every time they turn around they will be faced with situations that break their hearts. With a deep rooted faith, they will have the HOPE that can only be experienced with God's arms to lean on.
2) A LOVE for learning!!
It isn't about knowing everything or forcing them to memorize facts. It isn't about "memorizing" the answers to pass the test. I absolutely want my children to be above average academically and to have the chance to succeed at anything they choose, but it doesn't come from the knowledge they possess. It comes from the LOVE of learning. I want them to LOVE the feeling that comes from learning something that seemed impossible months before. If they have a LOVE of learning, there isn't ANY single thing that they can't learn. A LOVE for learning covers every single aspect that might be lacking. I can not cover EVERY single base with my kids (nor can ANY teacher!) and I can't send them out in the world with every fact lodged inside their brains. What I can make sure is that when they enter the "real" world they have a passion to always learn and expand their knowledge base. If they don't know something, I can make sure they know how to FIND the information and have a desire to do so. If those passions and abilities are in place, they will find themselves unstoppable!
3) A Healthy View of Marriage
This one really touches my heart deeply. Happy, healthy marriages are becoming hard to find with each passing day. Our kids are growing up in a world that the sacred, covenant vows of marriage seem to be "of the past". One of my goals as a parent, is to make sure that my kids are part of the solution. When I married Kevin, we said we were going to be the beginning of the end of the cycle. We wanted the kids that we would be blessed to be given to have a different start at life. We didn't want them to grow up with the baggage that comes with being a child of divorce. I've been there and Kevin's adult sons are part of those statistics, along with the majority of those around us. How amazingly blessed would our next generation of families be if they have been raised in a home with TWO loving parents that have provided incredible stability and the assurance that LOVE does conquer all! I can not change my past and as much as Kevin wishes he had been able to provide a different life for his sons, he can't go back and change it. What we can do and seek to do EVERYDAY is to make sure that the cycle ends with us. When the cycle ends with us, our children have a different foundation and will carry that ahead into future generations.
It is about MUCH MUCH MUCH more than just staying married. Look around and that is easy to see. How many couples do you see that are strangers in their own homes or may be married but are so disrespectful and hurt that their homes are no longer a safe, welcome haven for their children? Being "married" is MUCH more than a piece of paper or a ring on your finger.
For our kids, we wanted them to see that problems arise and may arise often, but LOVE wins out. You may have to forgive when forgiveness is the last thing you want to offer. You may have to give up some of your own dreams and desires for the OTHER person. You may have to do things out of your comfort zone to make the other person happy. What they also will see is that the OTHER person does the same thing. Marriage is NEVER about ME, it's about US! When you get caught in the ME trap, you destroy your marriage. Been there....done that! It's about give and take, not about take and give a little when you have extra time.
We also vowed to not hide affection from our kids. They NEED to see us appropriately touching, kissing, being playful and doing sweet things for each other! They NEED to see that outward sign of affection. How else will they know how to treat their future spouse? How else will they know what to seek in a spouse? How else will Adriana know how she should expect to be treated? On the flip side, it KEEPS a marriage alive! They need to see that Kevin and I think the world of each other and we are not shy about showing it. They may make gagging noises or say, "oh no, not again...", but if you see them out of the corner of your eye...you can see them smiling and feel the comfort they have.
How do I know this for a fact? Because we've been on the other of the end of the spectrum. We've been the "norm".....the strangers in the same home. We've been the ones so full of bitterness, regret, disappointment that communication was impossible or even being in the same room was too painful. We've been the ones that have walked out doors without the intention of coming back. We've been the ones to sit down and tell the kids that we just couldn't do it anymore. Yes, that's BEEN us. Unfortunately. Regrettably. Painfully.
I can't tell you the magic key we used to change it. I can tell you that most people would find that "truth" shocking. We are so incredibly in love and making our marriage thrive to the point that people criticize us or call us fake. NOPE! I think when you've been to the bottom and find yourself come out of that pit that you can't help but show the world. I can honestly say I love Kevin more than I could have ever dreamed of and that I love him much more than the day I married him. Just like most brides, you think you have the most perfect relationship and that everything is going to be smooth sailing. YOU aren't like all the others that have failed or are miserable. Yes, I thought that too! The key is to find the way to overcome REAL world when it hits. Fortunately, we have found our path and are enjoying the benefits of sticking with it. WE are enjoying the new discoveries of just how AMAZING real love founded in Christ can be. We are basking in the joy of "I am my beloved and he is mine". So pardon our sappiness....our open support of each other. Close your eyes if you don't want to see love notes or encouragement sprinkled all over our home. Block us on facebook or "hide" us if you don't want to see our playful banter. WE aren't changing or backtracking. Why? Because we've been there and NEVER want a glimpse of that darkness again. Why else? Because our children deserve it. They've seen the dark and they most certainly deserve to see what it feels like to be in a home so filled with love that it HAS to spill out! They need to see it, feel it AND remember it! Some day (and for a certain daughter....at least 25 more years !!! ) they will be faced with their own marriage battles and they can look back and remember that YES you can stick with things and NOT JUST overcome, but you can make it into something amazingly beautiful!
On a side note: we hope that it also overflows into their personal relationships with Christ. We know without a doubt that without our faith in God, we would have never overcome. We hope that they see that when they face VERY difficult obstacles or hard times that no matter how it feels at the time, God IS with them and HE WILL lead them down the right paths. Easy...not always. BUT if they stick with Him, in the end it will all work out!