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The Joy of Painting on our Kids’ Lives

Erin Schreyer  |  Aug 31, 2015

My Facebook stream was so fun this past week. It was a constant flow of back-to-school photos. Fresh faces with big smiles, new outfits and hopeful expressions captured on film before young students walked out of their homes and into the hallways of their schools, ready to learn and grow.

Kids. They’re a bit of a blank canvas in their early years. And parents…well, we’re the ones with the largest tangible paint brush on their lives.

I remember in my own youth not even being sure if I wanted to have children of my own. Heck, I wasn’t even sure I wanted to get married! I was just a wee bit head-strong, determined and independent. I was certain I could (and would have to) “do it all” on my own.

Because of brokenness in my family, I was taught from an early age to be self-sufficient and successful without “needing” anyone else. My biological father had left a wake of hurt and negative impact with his unanticipated departure from our family. And, I didn’t have any relationship with a Heavenly Father, either. I only knew how to go to church (mostly on holidays) and do religious things from years of repetition.

Thankfully, in my late teens, someone invited me to a different church. I met Jesus there for the first time. Not the religious, make-you-perform, always-feel-guilty and never-good-enough figure that I had grown up with in my grandparents’ church…but Jesus, the lavish grace-giving, death-overcoming, abundantly loving, sin-erasing, heart pursuing Savior that He really is!

{I’ll never forget a crossword puzzle we did in Sunday school class. The clue was “God ________ us when we sin.” I was confident the correct answer was “condemns.” Turns out, “forgives” has the same number of letters and is much more accurate!! I knew immediately I had to run to Jesus, because I didn’t know Him or His grace.}

So I did. I ran to Jesus and met Him, and He showed me that He’s trustworthy and dependable. He is good. Always. Consistently. He never changes, and He never stops loving us, even when we fail. (Trust me, I’ve had some doozie failures, and He still hangs with me!)

He changed my perspective from the solitude and pressure of independence, to the grace and freedom of dependence on Him.

He opened my eyes to see that I would never have to do it all on my own. Never again. He actually wants me to come to Him, so He can give me rest. (Matthew 11:28)

How thankful I am to know this, because now, as a parent, I can share this with my children. I can spare them the stress of attempting to be perfect, trying to rely only on themselves and their own ability. I can speak the truth with them that failure isn’t necessarily bad; it’s only a learning opportunity that most of the time comes with grace too. I can comfort them with the knowledge that they’ll never be alone (even if they feel that way.) Not only will I never give up on them, but they have a Father above whose love isn’t conditional and is greater, deeper and wider than anything they can fathom.

I can paint something on their canvas that will FREE them.

When I ponder the gift of parenthood, I used to view it through a more selfish lens. I viewed my children merely as a gift TO ME. For MY joy and MY consumption. But the gift of parenthood is more than that.

The real gift of parenthood is the opportunity to shape lives and hearts; to coach them toward a full life; to point them toward something bigger and more dependable than themselves or any other human; to give them a directional that leads to Christ, and to watch his Spirit transform them! Oh, the JOY of seeing your child come to know and trust Him!! There’s no better, more life-giving and empowering gift for them (or you!)

When we look to the Bible for parenting advice, direction and responsibilities, we see the following:

  • We are to train them in the way to go, so that later they won’t depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6)
  • We are to bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4, Proverbs 13:24, 19:18, 23:13, 29:17)
  • We are to teach and talk about the Lord, consistently and often, and encourage them to pass it on to their next generations. (Deuteronomy 4:9, 11:19, Joel 1:3, Psalm 78:4)
  • We are to help them understand God’s faithfulness. (Isaiah 38:19)
  • We should not exasperated them and have compassion for them. (Colossians 3:21, Psalm 103:13)
  • We should encourage them to love their families. (Titus 2:4)

Don’t fear that this list is long (and not even complete!) Instead, notice the trend: all of these verses encourage us as parents to point our children to the Lord, His character and faithfulness. There is nothing better we can do for them!

So, as our children are beginning their new school year, let’s be mindful not to let the stress and schedules of academics and extracurriculars spin us into a tizzy. Instead, let’s paint a directional on the canvas of their lives. Let’s point them to where life, grace and living water will quench their thirst like nothing else can. (John 4:13)

Let’s do more than offer our children a great school year. Let’s point them toward an abundant life!

You are their most important painter. Adorn their canvas with Christ.

How do you help your children to know and depend on Him?

About Erin Schreyer

I’m passionate about positive life change, impacting others, and Jesus Christ, who makes all things possible. Professionally, I’m a coach, speaker, and writer. Personally, I’m a wife, mom, friend, loud laugher, and lover of tennis, hiking, cupcakes, a good book, and a great glass of red wine.  »  Learn More

What People Are Saying

Such a great word, Erin! I, too, had that pivotal moment of “these children aren’t just for me,” and I’m so thankful for it. Thank you so much for the reminders!!

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