I love being a parent. It’s my all time favorite job. My recently 3 year old daughter has just started doing this thing before she goes to bed. It happened on accident one night, but this avid fan of Lion King pretended to be a lion cub, so of course her goofy dad decided to as well. Next thing you knew, her and I were playing “lions,” by running around the house and growling at each other.
Turns out playing “lions” is now a nightly tradition and, ironically enough, it never really gets her ready for bed, it just gets her super wound up so that she can come crashing down after about 15 minutes of story reading and “Sh, really it’s time for sleep, Lizzy lion.”.
So with all of that in focus, the goofiness, the funniness, there’s also this very real since of responsibility and anxiety that comes with parenting. I think everyone I’ve talked to has the same story. They got the baby all settled in at the hospital, got in the car, started it up and thought, “What now?”. There’s a lot of pressure and anxiety that go with it and it can be a little intimidating.
I think that’s why I love our church’s Baby Dedication event. Our next one is in a week, on the 30th, and I always get excited to see so many parents commit their families to God.
One of the things that I love about the event when Sarah and I went through it, is the strategy to “imagine the end.” In the book of Deuteronomy, Moses challenged the nation of Israel to constantly keep God’s law in front of their family. However, he also talked constantly about God’s promise to take the nation into the promised land.
So as Sarah and I talked about the “promised land”and “imagined the end” for our kids, we decided to pick some words that we wanted to describe our daughter. We wanted her to be confident, loving, servant minded, God loving, people loving. We wanted her to live with great faith and bravery. So as we started tucking our daughter in and reading her Bible stories before bed and praying with her before she went to sleep, I started telling her four simple words.
You’re beautiful, you’re smart, you’re brave, and you’re kind. At about a year and half, she would smile and laugh, but it didn’t really seem like it went anywhere. I wanted her to know that she had every reason to be confident, she could be brave, and always take the opportunity to be kind. Then one day, I pulled the sheet up around her neck, kissed her on the forehead, and said…”You’re…”
Then she said, with a heavy sigh and an annoyed tone… “I’m beautiful, I’m smart, I’m brave, and I’m kind.”
I laughed and, honestly, got a little teary eyed. She was tired of hearing it. But she knew it. She was tired of hearing the same thing, or she was ready for bed, but either way she knew what I was going to say and she said it effortlessly. I don’t know what the future holds for my kids or for myself. To be honest I don’t even have the ability to confidently say what will happen today. One thing I am confident in, is that through being intentional, looking to our church and church family, and a whole lot of prayer the end that Sarah and I imagined for our kids won’t be out of reach. It may be many years from now and the details are certainly quite hazy. The way we get there may not at all be the way we plan and I’m sure there will be many surprises along the way. But what CAN be expected are four, small, fantastic, intentional little words. Beautiful, smart, brave, and kind. Those words will probably change, and the way they’re said will probably change as well but the core message will always be that she is and was created to be a testimony of God’s greatness and grace.
What words have you intentionally used and how have they changed?