“Weston. No.” …
“Weston, Mom said no.” …
“Weston! That’s gross! Take that out of your mouth!”
Alright, so my son is nine months old, and I am fully aware that disciplining him in the above manner is probably not entirely productive; however, since my son is nine months old, it’s the only option I have right now. My son is also perfect. Literally perfect. If you ignore the fact that he never sleeps, grinds his teeth on our stainless steel refrigerator, pulls the dog’s whiskers, and hits newborn babies in the face. Other than that, he is perfect.
When he is crying for me to come get him in the morning, and I walk into his room, he starts to bounce energetically as he grips the top rail of his crib, dimples radiating from his rosy cheeks. He smiles all the time, but does so in a unique way where he forces his lower jaw forward, as if to show off his new front teeth. He rocks back and forth when I sing, which I am sure will eventually convert to full blown dancing. He communicates with me by clicking his tongue, and when I click mine in return, his smile says it all. He flops around uncontrollably when I change his diaper, which usually leads to us both laughing uncontrollably (this is less fun when his diaper is poopy). He explores the world like it’s not going to be there in the morning, never afraid to fall or discover something unfamiliar. When his dad leaves the house, he crawls to the door with which he exited and pounds on it, his eyes glancing back at me asking, “When is he coming back?” When the dog is locked in his kennel, my son paws at the door and laughs at him.
These things that my son does makes my world a little more perfect, but alas, I am fully aware my son is far from it. He cries when he “hurts” himself just to get attention; he screams in the middle of the night just to get his way; he won’t eat his vegetables; he understands the word no, but refuses to comply with it; he’s extremely impatient. My son believes the world revolves around him. He’s a bit narcissistic, if you ask me.
Now don’t get me wrong, I understand that my son is simply a nine-month old, and my expectations for him are completely within reason. However, the older Weston gets, the more I become aware that he, too, has been struck by humanity’s fall in the Garden of Eden. Built right into his small frame is a bad attitude and a whole lot of selfishness. No one taught my son these traits; he was born with them. Weston, my little boy, is a sinner. God knows that, and I know that.
The more I see of his personality, the more I feel a longing for him to know the love of Christ, and the more I understand that it is my responsibility to raise him to be a God-fearing man, a servant of the one, true God. I am desperate for him to one day have a profound understanding of what it means to let the Lord reign in every aspect of his life, and it is my deepest fear that he will somehow never discover, or fully grasp, God’s inexplicable love. I have asked the Lord to show me how to shepherd my son to Him, even in his youngest years. I think I am on the right track. Weston has roughly four Bibles– all offer a rudimentary understanding of the standard Old Testament stories along with big, colorful pictures. The customary picture of Jesus hangs in his nursery. We have baptized him and take him to church every Sunday. As he grows, he will see the cross hanging on the wall in mom and dad’s bedroom, as well as the picture which accompanies a Bible verse in the kitchen. Surely, he will know the Lord. Right?
However, the question remains: How will I raise my son to become a God-fearing man? The following is thus far what I have discerned from God. I am sure to fail at all of it, but will depend on Him to redirect my steps when I fall short.
- I will pray for my son every day and night. Asking first, that the Lord will protect him; knowing that he is in God’s protection is the only way I can sleep. Second, I will ask God to create in my son a passion for Christ, a passion that will spill over into his adult life and swell so quickly that he can’t help but share it with others.
- My husband and I will habitually strive to demonstrate for Weston what a Christian life looks like, as well as a Christ-centered marriage. We will faithfully serve the Lord, respect one another, and discuss our relationship with God–all in front of him. God’s presence in our home will be seen and heard, not simply understood. Not only this, we will place people in Weston’s life who also walk with Christ, demonstrating further the features of a Christian life.
- We will take Paul’s advice and pray continually in our home (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). We will teach Weston that prayer is not just for bedtime and mealtime, but for all times. We will teach him how to pray so he feels comfortable and equipped to speak to God, even though God accepts us no matter how we pray. We will teach him to turn to God before he entertains any other solution.
- We will consistently bring Weston to church, and actively serve inside and outside its walls. When he is old enough, we will help him discover his spiritual gifts, and let him choose how he would like to serve his church. We will empower him in all of his endeavors to serve Christ, modeling that service is worthwhile and satisfying, not an obligation (1 Corinthians 12).
- Reading the Bible will be a regular activity in our home. We will read it to Weston, as well as in front of him. We will not only teach him that the Bible is the living and breathing word of God and cannot be altered or argued, but we will also teach him how to utilize the Bible to find answers and seek truth (Hebrews 4:12). It is my hope that the Bible will never feel like a foreign object to him, that it will never collect dust.
In truth, it takes much more than a cross on the wall and a closed Bible on the coffee table to instill a lasting love for Christ in children. I know the world will never cease in its efforts to drag Weston into its pit of unbelief and hopelessness, and I also know that Weston, like all of us, will be attracted to this way of life. I am so thankful that God has shown my husband and I this truth and has prepared us to fight for our child’s values. I will raise up my son to know the Lord and teach Him everything I know about walking with Christ, hoping to someday watch him surpass me in knowledge and zeal. I will openly portray my own relationship with God as honestly as possible. Most of all, I will depend on God to reveal Himself to my son in a way that shows Weston how desperate he is for God’s guidance and forgiveness. God’s purpose in his life is undeniable; it is his parents’ responsibility to help him grasp this truth and live by it.