“Watch Mamma” I said to Ava.
“Now you do it. Copy me.”
These are the very phrases I have ever increasingly spoken to my daughter Ava. She’s so easy to teach and I am beyond privileged to be a ’stay at home Mum.’
But it’s only recently that I’ve noticed just how much responsibility lies beneath those very words- watch, now you copy.
It is clear on a daily basis now Ava has reached 20 months, that she has learned and soaked up many of the morals and behaviours we’ve taught her.
On many occasion I watch in awe and am so thankful as I catch a glimpse of Ava feeding her baby in the way I feed Rae. Or when she gently wipes away drool from Rae’s chin with the words “been a bit sick Rae? its ok!”
Or a torn favourite- cradling her baby and in a loving tone “hungry babba, yeah? want some milk? okay, milk coming!”
After dropping her baby “poor baby, bumped head mamma, its ok baby, ill kiss it better, all better now” (just to clarify- she hasn’t learned how to drop a baby from me!)
I have to pinch myself when I catch these moments. She melts my heart.
But what is it that’s really making me proud?
Is it that she has watched and learned from me? That I give me and Carl all the credit and smile knowing we’re doing a good job?
The selfish and human part of me- probably yes.
But the main reason I smile is because I see her being loving, kind and gentle. Learning how to love and take care of others. I watch as she shares her food, giving each of us a bite. Or a personal favourite, passing a toy to Rae when she’s dropped hers, and it melts my heart.
I observe her forming beautiful and kind ways coupled with good behaviour (mostly). I see her learning to apologise and be thankful for the things she has.
And so it’s seeing these positive formations of my child’s character that challenges me to question this…
‘How do I do things? When she watches me– what does she see?’
I ask of her these following questions on a daily basis without even consciously thinking about it…
Watch how I do things
Watch how I walk
watch how I place God first
Watch how I speak
Watch how I treat people
Watch how I forgive
Watch how I love
Watch how I help people
Watch how I give
But what is it that she is watching?
Does she see me quick to forgive my husband? Or witness me sulk, bear grudges and speak to him in a disrespectful manner? Does she witness that I treat my husband in a way that they should treat their future spouse, friends and family?
Does she see me give all that I can and love unreservedly, or hold everything back?
Does she see me insecure and fearful, or confident, bold, courageous and brave?
What sort of role model am I being?
I’m not saying of course that we need to be fake. If we are generally an insecure person then I’m not insinuating, you be someone you’re not. But perhaps you could try to let your children catch a glimpse of the positive side of you? How you would love to see yourself? It may even catalyst a change for your own healing.
I’m also not trying to lay a guilt trip either. There is no way we could be the best we can all the time around our children. I’m aware only too well of the stresses and strains of being a parent, wife, and every other hat we wear! And how that can impact how we walk daily. Unfortunately, my girls have witnessed Carl and I share the odd word or two! I have lost my temper and patience on more than one occasion, have done things, said and treated people in a way I’m not proud of. So this is in no way a blog to make you feel guilty. And I don’t believe God wants you to feel guilty either.
But what I’m more determined to do as the new year starts, especially as I notice Ava repeating words and actions quickly, is to look at me. To look at what I am modelling to my children- and whether I can change that-now.
I watch Ava and she watches me. I have a choice to show both my girls the right or wrong way of doing things., and they have a choice whether to copy them or not.
And so entangled in this question, is a gentle whisper from Jesus.
Walk in my ways
See how easy it is
Now you do it
When I find myself lost in the person I don’t want to be, entrapped in bad habits and fear I’ll never change- I am reminded that I have a daily example. And I find that what I teach my girls is the best of me- the best of Jesus.
Often, the things I teach her, are how I desire to be, how I wish I treated others. Yet I somehow can’t seem to teach it to myself.
But, I am not hopeless or unworthy of help. And neither are you.
Because Jesus offers for us to watch Him. When we get lost- to follow Him. To walk in His ways when we’ve strayed and can’t find our way back or ways to change.
I believe Jesus took on the responsibility in human flesh to teach others the right way, the perfect way, of treating people, of walking this earth, being in relationship with God and caring for the planet.
We have a choice whether we follow and copy the ways of Jesus or do it another way.
In my parenting, and indeed when it comes to homework for example, my way may not be the perfect way. But when it comes to people, morals, loving, caring, respect, helping….
It all starts with me.
First I have to make a choice whether to walk in the way Jesus did and does today, or not. I will be the first bible Ava and Rae ever read. They will watch and copy my actions before they understand and can read the bible.
What a responsibly it is then, to make sure first, I am walking in His ways.
My girls will not only watch me when I encourage them – like how to use a spoon, or how to put a shape in the shape sorter. But when I don’t even realise it.
She’ll watch how her Dad and I speak to each other. How I react in a moment of panic or worry, how I speak to others… they’ll watch and copy.
Therefore, as parents, particularly a parent who knows Jesus, we must first understand the concept of how to walk in Jesus’ footsteps. Living in His ways. Doing His will not ours.
We must not only understand but waste no time in getting on with the ‘doing.’
Jesus saw a need and dealt with it.
Far too often I think we over think it- should I shouldn’t I? Am I over stepping the mark? Will they think I’m weird? Will they even let me help? What if they freak out? Maybe I’ll talk it over with someone else first.
We just need to be doing it. Our children, our church, the people we pass in the street, the people we work with- everyone around us is watching how we walk. They may not necessarily copy but they are watching.
How much of a significant shift would there be if everyone who watched, saw something different? If what they saw, were characteristics that made us stand out in such an extraordinarily kind, calm and joyful way. And that maybe, just maybe they wanted to do the same. Or find out why it is we walk in the way we do. What have we got that they’re missing? What is it we know that they have yet to discover?
It would eliminate striving to get people to walk through church doors as their first experience and encounter with Jesus. Because how hard is it sometimes to get our unsaved loved ones to church?
Why not be the church to them? Be the bible they see?
Don’t misunderstand me, church is imperative and inviting people along is so important.
But we are the church- Monday to Sunday- not just on a Sunday morning service.
We are the church people need to encounter first. For them to see something different. Who knows, they may then want to come along to your church and meet with others to find out a little more.
So I ask you this, as I ask myself the same question. What is it that other people see when they watch the way you live your life? If you’re a parent, what is it your chidren see? What will they copy? After answering these, ask yourself- is there room for improvement? I have answered that myself and decided, that for me- YES! I want to be the best I can for God, for myself, for my children, my family, friends and the list goes on!
What about you?