It’s interesting when you find yourself in another nation with an entirely different culture, and yet because you share the same faith, you have the same perspective that transcends the differences. Today’s blog is in honor of a dedicated wife and mother, who taught me so much with how she lives her life and raises her children without the benefit of a stay-in helper (the way we have them in the Philippines) and with only God’s grace to back her up.
During one of our random discussions, Anna told me how she was able to raise her children to be responsible and capable at a very young age. Her 15 year old daughter can look after her two siblings with her eyes closed; her 10 year old daughter cooked a whole meal during my stay because their mom got sick (said daughter also brought up a tray of food for her); her 4 year old son is a pro in washing dishes (we’re talking about ceramic bowls and plates here). On my latest visit, she taught me a very important lesson. All her kids were able to use chopsticks, spoons, and forks expertly at 3 years of age. She started training them at 1 year and 3 months. ONE YEAR and THREE MONTHS? That must have made quite a mess! Laughingly, she admitted that she put layers of newspaper under her baby’s high chair when she started training each of them. After lots of food throwing and utensil banging, she could just clean up her baby, wipe the high chair, and then roll up the newspaper straight into the trash. You’ll have to learn to deal with a messy kitchen because once babies are past 2 years old and have not learned to feed themselves, they would expect to be spoon fed every time and it gets harder to wean them from it. So yes, take that short, opportune time that they desire to learn and just deal with the messy aftermath, because it will be worth it not having to pander to their needs every mealtime.
Come to think of it, there’s a parallel in our spiritual walk. There is an opportune time when someone new in the faith desires to go deeper in his or her walk with God. We should always take that time to encourage them to seek God daily, go deeper into studying His word, and obey Him no matter what to exercise their faith muscles. We remind them that their faith is their own, and that there are some faith journeys which they will need to walk by themselves. We also encourage them to share their faith and their passion by leading others to Christ. When we miss this golden opportunity, we end up with entitled Christians, expecting to be fed all the time and to be entertained all the time, and are unwilling to serve the church or reach the lost. Yes, the process can be messy–there may be mistakes in doctrine, there may be bursts of impatience with people who do not respond, or there may be offenses. But the mess is the best opportunity to exercise forgiveness, love, humility and dependence on God. To be honest, if the mess produces responsible servant leaders, I’d take the mess anytime.