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Teaching Children Love Acts as Much as It Feels

Teaching Children Love Acts as Much as It Feels

I don’t feel like going to school today.
I don’t feel like cleaning my room.
I don’t feel like asking her to be my friend.

It seems as soon as our kids could talk, they learned to utter some version of the “I don’t feel like it” statement. What started as them asserting their independence when they didn’t want to perform their ABC’s or animal sounds for expectant grandparents grew into a daily plea as teenagers to get out of household responsibilities.

But maybe I was going about this all wrong as a mom? Perhaps I wasn’t introducing my kids to the right feelings. Or maybe I wasn’t modeling how they could put feet to their ‘feelings’.

After all, doesn’t our faith teach us the importance of ‘doing’ and not just ‘being’?

And if I don’t teach my kids how to make their faith an active part of their lives while they are under my roof, statistically the chances of them choosing to walk with Christ once they leave for college diminishes.

As someone who didn’t grow up in the Church, sometimes I struggle with how to make both the reality and wonder of the God we serve come alive to my children. I don’t want them to struggle and suffer the way I did and yet it was in those moments when I had nothing or no-one else to rely on but God that I learned to truly cling to Him.

Memorizing Bible verses, singing Sunday school songs and learning the stories of our faith all have their place, but I’ve yet to see personal devotion come out of any one of those things alone.

Instead, I’ve seen my kids recognize God in the midst of natural disasters, the unfamiliar and yes, the seemingly impossible.

So why do we still continue to paint God as a passive, polite Being? Instead, I want my kids to meet, love, and share our passionate and pursuing God. But at some point along the way, that required me to shake up my routine as much as it required me to rethink how I lived and loved others.

One book that inspired me to do just that was Bob Goff’s Love Does. From the time he was a boy, he approached life with whim and whimsy which he carried on into his courtship of his wife (Sweet Maria), his parenting, his career and yes, even his faith.

From writing letters to world leaders with his kids to holding a hometown parade on his street, Bob Goff exemplifies love in action in his everyday life more than just about anyone I’ve ever met. How does he do this? One way is to just say “yes”.

Bob says, “I used to think you had to be special for God to use you, but now I know you simply need to say yes.”

I’ve learned so much on how to love from Bob through his book, including how love can be exciting, daring & fun (and what family doesn’t want that?). Allow me to elaborate:

Love Is Exciting: Leave Typical Behind

Sometimes we tend to settle. God didn’t settle when He created us or this world, so neither should we. Bob theorizes that men who were bored made up the word ‘typical’ and deemed it acceptable. Instead, he suggests, “people who follow Jesus are no longer typical – God is constantly inviting them into a life that moves away from typical…What Jesus said we could do is leave typical behind.”

Love Is Daring: Bigger & Better

Bob describes the childhood game of “Bigger and Better”, but puts it in Jesus’ perspective: with Jesus, it isn’t about money or possessions or even our hopes… it’s about our pride. “He’s asking us, ‘Will you take what you think defines you, leave it behind, and let Me define who you are instead?” It’s daring to not only do that for ourselves, but to help lead others (including our kids) to do the same.

Love Is Fun: Tom Sawyer’s Island

Bob, a lawyer by trade, claimed a rather unique office for himself: Tom Sawyer’s Island at Disneyland. In his book Love Does, Bob describes how it’s not tough to get to the island, but most people forget to go or don’t get around to it. He likens it to life this way: “Living a life fully engaged and full of whimsy and the kind of things that love does is something most people plan to do, but along the way kind of forget”

But it’s what he goes on to say about Tom Sawyer’s Island that sums up everything this article is about: “TSI has all the potential you bring to it – nothing more, nothing less. To find out just how much that is, all you have to do is show up. You don’t need a plan, you just need to be present.”

What excites me most about these stories is that I’ve never been able to get my kids to read Bob’s original book, and while I can elaborate on it for them, there’s something special about having their own book in their own hands. Well, now they can with the newly released Love Does for Kids!

This is one children’s book that adults and kids alike will love and find value in its pages. I’ve heard may wise friends and mentors remind me that we become what we believe. There is one lesson I particularly love at the end of Chapter 1 that can become a mantra for not just our kids, but us as well. Jesus told each of His friends who they were becoming, and they believed Him. So the next time you or your kids question how to “be” love, remember this:

You are becoming a helper.
You are becoming a leader.
You are becoming love.

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Your Turn

How can you help your children “become love”? How can you do likewise? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.