“Give them roots,” they say.
“Give them roots and give them wings.”
Apparently, these are the most important gifts we can give our kids.
We are supposed to firmly implant “things” in them that will, one day, enable them to launch themselves out into an independent life.
That sounds horribly hard and scary if you ask me.
What kind of “things” am I supposed to give them?
To show them?
To teach them?
And how in the heck do I make sure these “things” stick?
(Especially when I’m relatively certain that
98% 87% 50% of the things I say simply fly directly past their ears into neverland. )
And then, when these children of mine are, as we in redneck-ville like to say, locked and loaded…..how do I ever convince them (and myself) to leave the proverbial nest and fly???
What an annoying saying.
What a horrifically hard responsibility.
What a humbling opportunity.
What roots do I want my kids to have?
Well…what are roots anyway?
They aren’t simply static things that sit there and allow you a firm place to build.
(That would be a foundation….and while that’s an important thing too…it’s not in the saying so I’m not discussing it today.)
Roots are lifelines from which plants and trees draw nourishment and strength. They provide the sustenance something needs to survive…..and even thrive. Roots also give support….so that when (not if….but when) strong winds come, these deep strong roots can help keep the plant upright. The deeper the roots, the more leverage the plant has against the environment. Deeper roots mean more access to nutrients…as well as a better ability to strengthen the plant against adversity.
(Yes….my job in college was a botany lab assistant. True nerdy fact.)
In my life I have learned that the only things that consistently direct my path correctly…
that answer every question I have ever had…
that are always there when I need them (and often when I think I don’t)…
that I can always depend on for true direction….
those only things…
Are God and His son, Jesus.
So I teach my own sons and daughter about Them.
I read to them, I make them memorize scripture, I teach them verses, I do bible studies with them, I give them books, I send them to Sunday School, I pray for them and with them….
But here’s the deal.
All of these things that I do are basically just really good mucky fertilizer that I’m adding to new little seedlings. It will help them grow….but it doesn’t create roots.
They are growing their little roots all by their little selves.
Now…I can hope and pray that the “nutrients” those roots are drawing in are coming mostly from the “fertilizer” I am supplying.
I hope I am spreading that stuff thickly enough that no yucky old worldly dirt is seeping into those little rhizomes (yeah, I used a botany word!) and changing the insides of the emerging plant.
And so the plant grows.
As do the kids.
And maybe we even get to see some of the fruit blossom from what those little roots have been pulling in so far.
But at some point….our “fertilizer” can’t get down to those big deep growing roots.
As parents, we can only add to the ground near the surface and they have to pull their nutrients from another deeper source.
At this point some of us might be tempted to haul in some construction equipment and tunnel down next to our cute litte trees and deposit packages of mother-approved miracle-grow.
Let me tell you….that’s only going to weaken the ground around these guys. Those roots are big enough that they can (and need to) find their own support.
Here’s where the scary-yet-somewhat-cool part comes in.
If those roots have been growing and broadening as they should…
If our children have been taking in what we’ve been teaching them about God….
Then there is something that begins to take our “mommy-daddy” place to help them discern the ways they should go.
John 14:25-26 tells us what Jesus said to His best friends the night before He knew He was going to leave them on their own. Jesus told them that God would send a “helper” who,
“…Will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all the things that I (Jesus) have said to you.”
Jesus promised that when He couldn’t physically be with his apostles anymore that God would send a helper (AKA the Holy Spirit) to help them REMEMBER ALL THE THINGS HE HAD BEEN TEACHING THEM!!!!!
When God becomes firmly entrenched in our children’s hearts…they will have the help of the Holy Spirit to know how they should live their lives.
To continue this tree analogy;
Our kids’ roots have been primed and conditioned to respond to and accept awesome rich fertilizer. When those roots have gone so deep and become so big that the little bit of stuff we spread on the surface is no longer enough for them…they will seek out similar stuff in the earth around them.
Our kids’ hearts have been primed and conditioned to respond to and accept the teaching and the gifts of God. When they have grown…in stature and in their minds…so big that what we offer them is no longer enough…they will begin seeking something else. Jesus tells us that God will send them the Holy Spirit to continue to teach them, and to help them remember all the things they already learned about Him.
Those roots….they have some awesome divine guidance to help them seek out the good stuff.
And…back to one of my original questions (about how we make our teaching “stick” with our kids)…God tells us that HE will make sure they have help remembering it.
Thank goodness!!!! Because today alone my kids communally lost an iPhone, a wallet, 2 pairs of shoes, a basketball , their tempers, a dog leash, a sweatshirt and a pair of goggles. There’s no way they remembered the scripture from church this morning!!!
That’s scary too.
That will necessitate a post all of its’ own at some point.
However….I will say that it’s a little easier to let them fly….when you know the Guy who built those wings.