Let’s start with a little background and an answered prayer…
And then we’ll move on to the letter I want to write for my child who is currently kicking up a storm against my bladder!
When I was growing up, I loved listening to my parents whenever they were debating or discussing a topic – usually of theological interest. I would listen intently to their points of view, also chipping in with my own opinion or thoughts on the matter. It wasn’t so much the content that I was fascinated by, it was the way in which they discussed with one another. I was getting a front row seat to a lesson on respect. How to speak with people, how to listen properly, how to put across your thoughts and ideas, even how to disagree and maintain your stance, yet above all, how to do all of that with the utmost love and respect. Mum and dad did not necessarily always agree with each other – usually due to coming from differing cultural backgrounds. However, it was never an argument. It was always an intellectual discussion between two people who respected one another’s opinions and wanted to understand the basis of that viewpoint.
As I sat in the room with them, whether at the table, on the couch, or even on the floor of their bedroom while mum tidied around and dad sat upright in bed with his glasses on and his wooly hat keeping him warm, I often thought – ‘This is what I want’. As I got older I would often tell mum that I wanted to marry someone who I could have ‘proper conversations’ with and discuss things with, the way she and dad did. I wanted that sort of relationship where we could talk deeply, really learning from each other and picking each other’s brains. Where we wouldn’t be afraid of sounding stupid to each other, but rather, through our conversation, would help each other to grow, broaden and refine our views on life.
By the grace of God, I have this with my husband and I am so grateful for that. And over the Christmas period, there was an afternoon where I sat in pure excitement and wonder, thanking God for giving me this gift. I was able to sit and watch my husband and my father debating and discussing deep theological and social-cultural issues, with the same respect and consideration of each other’s viewpoint that I admire so much. Mum and I chipped in with our thoughts here and there, but really I just enjoyed listening to my husband and dad picking each other’s brains, asking questions, and teaching and learning from each other. They did not always agree, but they considered each other’s views and certainly thought more deeply on the reasons for their stances.
My dream had come true! It was one of those moments when I was truly aware of God’s goodness to me – He knew what I had yearned for, He had blessed me with it, and now He was closing the circle by giving me a front row seat to the man he had chosen for me and my father, talking on the same wavelength to the same depth I had always admired and looked out for.
So, the topic… what was it? Well, there were a lot of topics! But a large chunk of the discussion was based around the question of, ‘How do we raise our children to really know their identity in Christ and not be swayed or confused in an increasingly Christ-opposed world’. Culturally, we are living in a time where, ‘Every voice deserves to be heard!! Love everyone! Stand up for the victimised! Everyone deserves to be loved, respected, and have their place in society!’
It sounds great, doesn’t it? Until you read the small print: ‘Except the voices the majority disagree with. Drown those ones out. Seriously. Drown them out. Don’t even pretend to listen. We already know they’re wrong. Drown them out. Shout over them. Shut them up.’ It reminds me of a quote from George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’ – ‘All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others’. All viewpoints are to be accepted and valued, but the viewpoints of people with Christian faith beliefs are not of value and are to be rejected without question.
Freedom of speech is becoming increasingly threatened for people with Christian values. In referendums, in social media, in print, in every day vernacular. Freedom of speech is generally applauded more than ever. But freedom of speech is punishable for those of us who are Christians.
We find ourselves afraid to stand up for our deeply held faith beliefs, values and morals. I have been in situations where I have been afraid to reveal my own beliefs. I have felt ashamed due to feeling silenced and unable to break through that. I have chosen to stay quiet to protect myself. I know others who have felt the same. We feel increasingly so, as in today’s culture, liberal values tend to drown out all else and be the popular stance. It becomes dangerous when no other viewpoint is even considered or listened to – which ironically is very backward and is certainly not a liberal notion.
I have become so used to carefully listening to others and doing my best to ensure they feel heard, loved, and respected. All whilst knowing that I can’t truly talk myself and receive the same treatment. In fact, that was the very basis for starting this blog! To give myself a voice, where people could choose whether or not to listen. At the very least I would not feel I was suppressing my own beliefs or being shouted down, despite my efforts to give others space for theirs.
How do we raise children in a world like this? A world where, as Christians, we are only passers-by, and furthermore, only foreigners here?
‘”My command is this: love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command… You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit – fruit that will last – and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: love each other. If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.”‘ John 15:12-13, 16-19
‘For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,…’ Philippians 3: 18-20
The strong theme that emerged from the discussion between my husband and my father, was that of identity. Certainty of identity. This world is rife with confusion. There is so, so, so, much confusion. People do not know who they are or whether they are coming or going. People are floundering and just about keeping above water, whilst putting a lot of energy and effort into showing the world how well they know themselves and trying to assert themselves in that. The devil loves to spread confusion. He loves to whizz people into a tailspin. When people are wrapped up in confusion and going around in circles, they are easily distracted from discovering the Truth. Clarity and focus on the Truth is the devil’s worst nightmare. No. He needs confusion. Even better for confusion to drown out Truth and make Truth seem like the enemy.
Certainty in identity is key.
We will raise our children to know deep in their hearts, that they are children of God and that they are loved unconditionally by Him.
Dear Little One,
You have been ordained to be born for such a time as this. The Lord says He is ‘knitting you together in your mother’s womb’ (that’s me!) Little one, you are born for purpose and specifically designed and created by your Heavenly Father. You are ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’ (Psalm 139). Your father and I are so grateful that He has chosen us to do the job of raising you. Ultimately you are His and we are just blessed to have you for a while. But never forget that truth, that you are His.
Your Heavenly Father loves you unconditionally. He made you. He breathed life into you. He knows you – more than you could ever know yourself. More than your father and I will ever know you. And that is why it will be ok.
That is why it will be ok when it seems like the world is against you, quite literally. When it seems like what you are learning at home or in church, is very different to what you are seeing in school, on television, on social media, in government laws, and in general conversations. It will be ok when it feels like you are misunderstood and when you are filled with doubts and questions. Doubts and questions are good. Always seek truth. Seek out for yourself. Your Heavenly Father created you for this time and therefore has equipped you to survive the inevitable challenges you will face, as His child. His hand is on your shoulder. His gentle loving voice guides your steps. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you.
Learn who you are, Little One. Learn Whose you are. Know Whose you are to your depths. That will be your steady anchor. That will hold you firmly to the ground. When friends around you sway from pillar to post, and when confusion is evident all around, bombarding you from every corner, know Whose you are.
My darling, that will protect you through it all. That will give you the assurance and security you need. Knowing Whose you are will sustain you from birth to death. At times when you are filled with doubt and frustration, grip on to that little thread of Truth as tightly as you can. That thread will be the strongest lifeline you could ever count on. Your identity is in Christ.
You. Are. A. Child. Of. God.
Always remember that you were created for such a time as this – all the days ordained for you were written in the Lord’s book (Psalm 139). There is purpose in that. Find it. Seek it out with all your heart. Your generation will be POWERFUL for the Kingdom. You are blessed and highly favoured to be ordained for such a time as this.
Your father and I will always try to lead and guide you to discover your identity in Christ. To help you build a strong foundation in that knowledge. This is why parenthood is a vocation. Amidst all the ‘ordinary’, we are preparing you to know and understand the extraordinary.
Little One, I believe your firm assurance and knowledge of your identity of Christ, will make you a beacon of light to the confused around you. I believe that people will be drawn to you, and they may not understand why. You may not even understand why. But it will be that calm sense of assurance in who you are, that will attract people. So, love everyone. Be loving and kind to everyone you meet. Respect everyone. No matter how different they are and no matter what their beliefs or values. Be kind to all. Whilst being strong in your identity and values. Be a friend to all, and hater of none. And let Christ’s light shine through you and the Holy Spirit carry out His work.
You are a precious child of God,
Your father and I are so excited to meet you! You are already so loved, and always will be. Never forget that.
Love Mummy x
‘For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be’. Psalm 139: 13-16