There are many days on this journey of fatherhood that I don’t feel like I am good enough, tough enough, kind enough, compassionate enough, understanding enough—fill in the blank for yourself. Fathering children is tough work. Sometimes we can’t tell whether anything is actually sticking in those little hearts and mind. However, today is one of those days that I can call a win.
As I write this post we are bringing Good Friday to a close. This is one of the most difficult and beautiful days of the Christian calendar. We remember the death of Jesus and anticipate His resurrection. There is fasting, prayers and possibly the most challenging part—no beer or meat. It is a tough day for dad.
Teaching our children our faith is a top priority for my wife and I. Like most things, teaching kids about faith can be tough. There’s lots of ways to go about teaching your kids about faith, and like anything else you really want to stick in your child’s head—you have to set the example. My wife and I intentionally pray in front of the kids so that they can see that as a norm. We try our best to lead them in prayer before meals, after meals, before bed and in many other ways.
Our seven year old, Claire is not super excited to pray. Often enough she complains and argues. Sometimes Claire joins in family prayer because she has no other choice. Thats fine with me since going to school, chores and not eating candy whenever she wants also follow the same principles of, “you do it because it’s good for you and I said so.” For the most part the kids are compliant and we get through family prayer with very few issues. However, after its all said and done I always wonder how much are the kids really understanding, and if whether or not they see the importance.
Today, Claire surprised us.
The image above is something Claire organized herself. Claire decided that she wanted to lead our family’s Good Friday prayers. Claire got one of her illustrated bibles and an easel to support it and set it up on our coffee table. Then, she set out coloring pages of Holy Week she colored with her sister earlier that day. Claire laid them out with a candle and a home made “bible” she made. Claire asked that we get one of our crucifixes off the wall so that the table could be complete.
For the next 5 minutes or so Claire lead us in singing a praise and worship song she had written as she played her terribly out of tune toy guitar. Claire read the passion narrative out loud for us, and asked us to write in her “bible” what we were thankful God had done for us. We ended with a spontaneous closing prayer led by Claire.
I share this not because I want anyone to think that my wife and I are these mighty parents that naturally create holy children. My kids can be little devils. You should see our night time routine—there is nothing holy about it! Today was one of those days where my wife and I were able to see that what we are trying to impart onto our kids is actually taking hold. Claire put all of this together on her own. Claire knew this was an important day and that something unique was happening.
They do listen. They do understand.
As a father, todays prayer service was a great moment of hope in my child, but also for myself. I don’t always get it right or know if what I do makes a difference. Moments like today fuel the fire within and keep me going. I am able to see something tangible that confirms that my wife and I are on the right track. We all need that every now and then.
Tonight I go to bed remembering the death of my Lord. Remembering how His death has brought me to life. I go to bed with a smile on my face for the gift God has given me in seeing my daughter recognize His sacrifice. Tomorrow I may wake to a moody child who yells at me because her sister has more chocolate chips on her pancakes than she does. Tonights smile might turn into a frown tomorrow. However, today is one of those days that I can call a win.