Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Planting the Seeds of Faith in Our Children
For months now, Stella has screamed her head off during every bath. The other day, dreading the impending bath that she needed, I asked my son, "Sly, what should we do to help Stella enjoy baths more?" I was expecting him to suggest something like singing to her, or giving her a certain toy to play with....but without hesitation, he responded, "We should pray for her."
Wow. Yeah. Tom and I looked at each other: "why didn't we think of that?" I'm always the person who goes on and on to a friend about some problem I'm having, then ask them for advice only to hear, "well, have you prayed about it?". Errrr....no, actually. Oops. So Sly definitely didn't learn this from me.
Instead, these days it seems that I've been learning so much about holiness from Sly, and his childlike surety in God. He wants - and expects - to be a Saint with so much more certainty and trust than I can muster.
I've realized that my role in my children's faith formation is perhaps not as important as I thought. Don't get me wrong - as the parents, Tom and I are responsible for being the primary teachers of the Faith for our kids. We are charged with an enormously important task, with repercussions that extend to eternity. But ultimately, our job is just to plant the seeds. To provide the environment, the experiences, the teachings that will prepare our children's hearts for God. But it is the Holy Spirit who ultimately "waters" those seeds, and makes them grow. At only three-and-a-half, Sly has amazed me with some of the things he has come to understand about God. Things I never had a chance to explain. There's only one way those thoughts could have come to him, and that is through grace which neither he nor we have merited.
As parents, we lay the groundwork and we help support our children's increasing knowledge of God as it grows and meets challenges. But it is God alone who gives the grace of faith. God who enters in to their opened hearts and minds and begins a relationship with them.