Things My Children Have Taught Me About God and Myself
by Angeling Sim
9) I love my children, but I do not give them everything they want every time they ask. The reason? There are valuable and important lessons to be learnt about sharing, waiting, the proper use of money, contentment, and thinking of others first. I don’t want them to stop asking, because I want to know what is important to them. I also relish the moments where I can give them what they really want, and I can see their little eyes brighten up and their faces break into brilliant smiles as they jump up and down and shriek in delight “Oh thank you, thank you, mummy!”
I used to wonder how to resolve the desire to keep asking God for what I wanted with the knowledge that sometimes God will say “no” or “wait.” Perhaps I have a slightly better understanding now.
10) I deny my kids junk food at particular times of the day—before a meal and before bed. Parents with young children know exactly what sugar does to a child before bedtime (they get hyperactive and silly and certainly will not settle or sleep easily) and before a meal (they lose their appetite and will not eat properly). Sometimes the children become unhappy, especially when “everyone else is eating!” the junk—but I hope they will understand some day that they have to watch what they are feeding themselves, especially when it has a definite impact on their bodies.
“We have to learn to stop feeding ourselves the ‘junk of the world,’ if we want to develop an appetite for spiritual things. This we have to do if we want to learn to hunger and thirst after righteousness, be happy, and be right with God “(I borrowed this idea from a gospel meeting).
11) Sometimes we as parents have to remind the kiddos, “Watch where you are going!” Things often catch the attention of their curious eyes—and while they are walking straight on ahead, their eyes are not in the same direction where their feet are headed. Needless to say, they often land up in all sorts of trouble—bumping into lampposts, stepping into dirty puddles, tripping over a stone and falling, or getting themselves hurt or dirty.
Paul writes that we should “walk circumspectly [be careful how we walk]” (Ephesians 5:15), “be sober, [and] be vigilant [watchful]” (1 Peter 5:8). Just like the children, shouldn’t we all watch where we are going, and have our eyes on our goal? It is so easy to be distracted by things of the world, with our daily chores that demand our attention, our worldly wants, desires and pleasures—no wonder we often end up stumbling, falling, getting hurt or dirty. Maybe I should heed the own advice I often give my children, “Watch where you’re going!”
12) You know how sometimes our young toddlers try so hard to do something their motor skills for which they are not sufficiently developed to accomplish? They would see how “cool” the older children were in accomplishing a task or playing a game—and they would imitate and try to do the same. Unfortunately for them, being as little as they were, they fell short and drastically failed. Oh how frustrated they were! How disappointed they were! Sometimes they would even mess everything up in despair and cry. Sometimes the little ones would even stop trying—learning to steer clear of any particular activity that they felt they were prone to failing at. Perhaps this might also be my fault—as I often was over-enthusiastic and had tried to introduce an activity way too early. I did try, however, as much as I could, to remind junior that it would be ok and that there is no need to get mad. I would tell them, “If you would only just give yourself more time, and practice patiently—you will grow and you will learn. You can do the same task you so wish you are able to do—in due time.”
For the first time on that day, I saw myself for what I was—a prideful bawling child who could not accept failure, who wanted to call it quits, who messed up the board game, and slunk away angry, upset, discouraged and crying, utterly disappointed with myself. Did I really need to do that every time I tried and failed? Could I humbly admit that I was not perfect, still fell far short of maturity, and needed to keep working? Could I accept the fact that if I just did not stop trying—if I persevered and practiced daily—I was going to improve, and I was going to do better? Could I learn to do what Minlee does when she loses a game at Uno—make a face (“Aw!”) then simply move on and try again?
13) There was a period of time when my three children were always bickering—hurling unkind antagonistic words at one another, complaining about one another—each wanting things their way and unwilling to share or give way. It was very trying when I had to manage these battles on a daily basis. At the same time, it also frustrated and saddened me that they did not seem to treasure the kinship and companionship of one another, allowing the smallest thing to turn their relationship sour. On the other hand, whenever I watched how the older took care of the younger, gave her a hug and kiss, or held her hand to lead her gently across the road—my heart was warmed. When the younger emulated the older sibling’s good example, when they used kind and encouraging words, and when they took turns and gave up their “rights” for the sake of the other sibling, I felt great joy.
No wonder God tells us to love one another, forbear, forgive.
15) Time-out and spanking, do work when they are carried out properly—they are not “death sentences” or prolonged rejection. They work when they are not meant to condemn, but to help a child realize it is “serious business.” They work when they are not done out of spite or malice or a rush of anger, but rather out of a spirit of love. Often I found the desired effect hard to achieve because I allowed other things (uncontrolled anger, my selfishness, convenience and impatience) to complicate the issue. However, those moments when I had managed to discipline in the right loving manner, it worked amazingly.
Maybe it is the same with dis-fellowship? It is not meant to condemn, but to help. It is not done out of spite or malice, but in a spirit of love. It is not a “death sentence” but a disciplinary measure, to usher one back to the right path. It may be hard to do, yet God expects us to do it, and to do it right—simply because it works! On the flipside, just like discipline, if it is done out of spite, pride, with a lack-of-self-control or with other less than noble motives, we can wound our brethren more deeply, cause greater harm, and push them further away from God and His Kingdom.
16) My 5-year-old fell ill. She was feeling so poorly and weak she couldn’t get out of bed—yet in that sorry state, she whimpered and worried about her spelling test the next day at school. “Oh please do not worry about that at all!” I told her, wondering why that should be at the top of her mind when she could hardly walk or eat! While sometimes I did get mad at her for having brought the illness upon herself (by disobeying some basic self-care reminders), I felt a surge of tenderness that day. I consoled her; I told her not to worry about the spelling test, and that what was more important was HER, not the test. I told her that I was more concerned about her recovering, than doing well—or for that matter, sitting for that test at school. On other days when she was perfectly well I know I would have expected more effort put in to prepare for the same spelling test. At this time however, I knew her little body was under attack by some nasty bug, her little immunity system had been defeated and she was too weak to do her usual tasks. I realized that what was most important then was to rest, recover and get well first—we could worry about those other things later.
I realized that there are times when I am weak spiritually. During these times, God knows and wants me to be strong and well again. Sometimes I find myself worrying so much about the “spelling test” that I neglect to realize that I simply need to crawl out of the pit that I have sunk into. Sometimes I need to focus on “getting well again”—on being healed by His love, His word, and His people—so I can be back to health and be ready to make even greater steps of faith in my responsibilities as a Christian.
–to be continued—
(View Part 1 here)
Angeling Sim is a Christian wife, stay-at-home mother and former teacher, and a woman of whom I have the great honour of calling my friend. Angeling is a woman who always is looking to grow and serve in the Lord’ church–striving to bring up her children in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord (and doing a great job!)
Angeling is married to Patrick Ho and together they have two beautiful children: Theodora, and Theofina (their names are testaments to the godly focus this couple has). This godly family is a source of constant support and encouragement and a great example to me in Singapore!