A week ago, Kristie and the kids went to a half-night of prayer thing while I stayed home with pinkeye. Yeah, that was fun.
They came home a little after 8 and the responses from the kids were… interesting.
Andrew: “Dad. You won’t believe it. We got to worship God all night long.”
Emma: “It was sooooo boring…”
For the moment, let’s just put aside the fact that they were both raised in the same home with the same values by the same parents and are encouraged (perhaps forced) to go to the same/similar church programs. We’ve nurtured them pretty similarly so there’s some nature at play here, too.
They are so different in every way. Emma is so very intense. When she sets herself to something, she will finish it and most often to a very high standard. She expects a lot out of something to make it worth her while, perhaps in some circumstances, too much. She is a born leader and that terrifies me. Yet at the same time, she’s an artist and her creative self is so off-the-wall and spontaneous, she tends to leave us reeling a little bit.
Andrew is sensitive, more laid-back and tends to concern himself with others before himself. He once apologized after an argument with his sister for “breaking God’s rules.” He’s an electronics whiz and a gadget guy. He will go with the flow but let you know the second he’s bored. He tends to submit more than control and he has more patience for Emma than anyone else on the planet Earth, including us.
They both like to read their Bibles. They both pray. They both have their favorite stories and they both have a hard time sitting still through church.
We are blessed with beautiful children that teach me more daily than I’ve learned in years. But they both worship very differently.
Andrew raises his hands when he sings. Emma doesn’t even stand up. Andrew follows along with the Bible reading, Emma wants to play on the phone. When she reads her Bible, though, she asks questions. Big ones. Deep ones. She sees narrative within the narrative. It’s getting exciting to see her brain and heart working together to navigate Scripture.
Andrew wants to play guitar in the worship band like his uncle. Emma seems to prefer something more like a small group setting… with lots of arts & crafts. Andrew has walked back to me in the sound booth just to pray with me. He also prayed for me a few weeks ago when I was preaching. Emma said, “Good job, dad. That was long.”
It’s a joy to see these kids grow in worship. It’s a reminder to us that we’re shaping so much more than a brain. It’s a wonder to us as we watch their souls grow older and as we feel the Spirit in each of them in so very different ways.
They are both, always, children of God, made in His image and granted life and breath by the creator of the universe. They are beautiful, all the time and all the time they are beautiful. (It’s tattooed on the inside of my eyelids because sometimes I forget.)
It’s humbling and it’s uplifting all at the same time. The “easy” moments are far outweighed by the others. Yet every night, we pray together and they drift off to sleep. Every night, when I go to bed, I pray for them again, often standing in their doorway and reciting the shema from Deuteronomy 6. Then I ask God to give us a few extra angels to watch over them and a few more to watch over us.
I thank God for the act of worship that we call parenting. I ask Him to help me to get better at it every day.