Home Nurture: It All Starts in MY Heart
Educating the WholeHearted Child: Chapter 3 (Part 2)
As they closed this chapter the Clarksons reminded us that “it all starts in your heart” (page 54) and “it all ends in your child’s heart” (page 56). Pardon the pun, but I think that really is the heart of the matter. It is easy for me to think about how I want to shape and guide my children, but I think I get into trouble when I focus on the end product rather than the starting place.
Reflecting on this idea was deeply convicting for me. I felt the weight of many of Jesus’ words as I realized some of the mistakes of which I am continually guilty.
Clean cups and whitewashed tombs.
Jesus condemned the Pharisees for focusing on the outward appearance while neglecting to tend to the inward reality.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Matthew 23:25-28).
To be perfectly honest, I think sometimes my mentality is that I’ll clean the outside of the cup first, or present a respectable whitewashed tomb, and then everyone can see something pretty while I work on cleaning the inside. But even if I manage to fool the outside world, I certainly can’t fool God, and really I can’t even fool my children, who spend pretty much every waking hour in my presence. They know the real me. They see my weaknesses and my flaws. They know that what the world might see isn’t the whole picture.
I don’t want my children to think of me as a hypocrite. I try to be vulnerable with them, to ask them for forgiveness, to share with them when I struggling.
The other day I was leading them in a time of communion, and I was trying to model for them the thought process I go through as I approach the elements.
“What sin have I committed?” I mused out loud, hoping to help them focus their thoughts inward and consider the state of their own hearts.
“You yell,” Ian said frankly. (I’ve been asking for forgiveness for yelling a lot lately.)
“Um… yes. So that’s what I’m thinking about right now. But you’re supposed to be thinking about your own sin.”
Which leads me to the second teaching of Jesus that the end of this chapter made me consider.
The log in my own eye.
Ian may have been overlooking his own sin to point out mine, but he learned that from a master.
“Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:3-5).
As I try to help guide my children and correct them, I often am pointing out specks that pale in comparison to the log in my own eye. Now, obviously this passage isn’t addressing parents, and if we waited until we had dealt with all our own imperfections before correcting our children we would turn out some pretty scary offspring. However, I have
sometimes often caught myself speaking to one of them in a tone that I just corrected when I heard them use it toward a sibling, or saying things in a less than encouraging way when I am frequently reminding them to “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29).
So as I consider the importance of nurturing my children’s hearts and shepherding their spirits to long for God, I want to keep in mind that it all starts in my heart. I need to be spending time daily in the Word of God. It gets said over and over, but in the craziness of life with four young children I let it slip far too often. I have taken to leaving my Bible open so I can catch a snippet in any spare moment. I often only get to read a few verses a day, but I try to make sure I at least take in a little of the Word daily. I post verses above my kitchen window and reflect on the same one for weeks at a time. I am trying to tend my own heart so that what overflows to my children is the kind of spirit-filled life I desire for them. Only then will I be able to truly nurture the hearts and nourish their spirits in such a way that they will hunger for the true source of life.
Each Mentoring Monday I share my reflections on what I’ve been learning from my “paper mentors.” I am currently joining in a book discussion of Educating the WholeHearted Child by Clay Clarkson (with Sally Clarkson). If you want to join in, visit our Facebook discussion group page.