On my way to losing a marathon!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

From the mouthes of babes

While putting my daughter to bed to tonight, I said the little prayer with her that has become our custom. "Dear Jesus, I love you, Amen."  Sometimes she'll repeat the words, typically she folds her hands, squints her eyes, and watches me say the words.  Pretty commonly, she'll at least repeat "Maymen!" with enthusiasm, while she tears her hands apart and shoots her eyes open.  Tonight, as I said Amen, she refolded her hands, and asked to "Paaay" again.  So I did.  And then again.  And at the third request, I'm figuring it's a stalling technique, but one that I'm really pretty okay with.  So I say a longer prayer.  "Dear Jesus, I love you.  Thank you so much for this day, and for my mommy and daddy, and that I get to learn about you.  Amen."  When Madelyn asked to pray again after this, I said no, but let her know she could pray.  So she closed her eyes and folded her hands tight and said, "Tay-tew... dadda-y... May-men!"

This was her first independent prayer, and after my initial mushy-gushy heart warming mommy moment, it kind of got me thinking about prayer and faith again.  When Madelyn was born, Shane and I discussed what we'd do about prayer.  Should we teach the baby to pray, in order to guide her in the path we hope her to accept later in life?  Or should we avoid it, letting her know that this is something that only the children of God  get to experience, and she has to make that choice first?  This may sound to many of you like a stupid discussion to have, but in our marriage, well, it's par for the course.  But if it helps, this is the argument:  Madelyn has a sin nature.  Madelyn does NOT have a relationship with the Lord.  Prayer MEANS something, but it doesn't really mean anything to her yet.  We didn't want this to become simply a nightly ritual, something that comes after our bath and brushing our teeth.

In the end, we decided pro-prayer.  Very "as for me and my house" of us, I know.  But personally, I was a child that, at the tender age of 3, decided that Jesus was someone with whom I needed a relationship.  God has his own plan for each of us, I know, but I also know that my parents, who chose to teach me all they could about the Lord, who filled my mind with stories of a Jesus who loved me more than even they did, well, I know they certainly have credit for introducing me to this God I have come to love so much.

I can be pretty sure at this point that Madelyn doesn't have a strong theology at 18 months old.  I can also be pretty sure that this "Jesus" I keep her praying to and singing about doesn't mean much to her either.  But I'm also sure that I'm training her.  I'm training her that we have nothing that does not come from the Lord.  I'm training her to think of something else as greater than herself.  As my child, I'm teaching her love, obedience, justice, and grace.  And maybe more than that, I'm training myself.  I'm guiding myself to become the mother, the teacher, the guide, and the Christian that I hope to be.  Maybe Madelyn doesn't understand what "Thank you Daddy, Amen" means, but I do.  And it means, I think, that we're on a pretty good road.

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