Have you ever seen those pictures with kids swinging? Not the ones where they are on an actual swing, the ones where they are holding their parents’ hands and being swung in a circle. The look of pure joy on their face is incomparable. The smile is without reservation and joy exudes from every pore of their body.
I love those pictures. They make me smile and bring happiness to my heart. I believe that they have incredible potential to give us a picture of what its like to build our children’s faith.
Some of my favorite elements of those pictures are:
1. The joy and happiness expressed.
2. The blurred background indicating the speed of the spin, indicating a certain amount of risk.
3. The strong hands of the parent holding their child.
4. The security and safety the child expresses through their joy.
Even in the midst of what could be considered scary, those children find joy. Why? Because of the safe hands of their parent. They believe that they won’t be dropped or thrown but their parents will hold on and keep them safe.
Have you ever swung one of your children between you and your spouse? Or if you aren’t married, have you ever held a child’s hand while another adult held the other and swung them as you’ve walked?
When we did that with our kids (most of them are too big for that now) they would count to three and then jump, asking us to swing them. They knew they were safe – even if we felt we might drop them or it hurt their arms, they believed in the safety we provided.
I like to use this image as an illustration of the power we have as parents to lead out children towards Jesus. What if our kids find their faith in the security of the faith of their parents? When each parent loves God and grows in his or her spiritual life and relationship with God, the child feels secure, the risks of faith aren’t as risky anymore because they have watched their parents wrestle, believe, question, worship and ultimately find total security in the promises of God, they know they will find it too.
If either one of those parents lets go or walks away, that child is left with a far shakier foundation of faith. You could actually apply this illustration to all aspects of parenting – a unified parental team makes all the difference.
As time and age progress, our children eventually become independent and too big to swing, but we continue to hold their hands. As they age they let go of the need to hold on so tightly because they know we are within arm’s reach and are there for them. They stretch and wander, because they know the security of their parents and the authenticity of the faith that each parent has. They know that they can always come back for love and support and that their parents’ faith was real and something that they want in their own lives too.
This reality spurs me on to be intentional with my faith and my connection with my wife. It helps me focus on the need for us to be growing together, as a couple, and towards God.
Here are 4 ways that you can give your children the security that they need:
1. Let them see you reading your bible. A paper bible is best- see this post for why
2. Letting them hear you pray, they need to hear your relationship with God and see the results, learning that an answer isn’t always what we think it is.
3. Letting them see you worship (If your church dismisses kids before worship, keep them with you and take them to their class late, they need to see your sincerity and love for God in worship)
4. Letting them see you trust, especially when its hard. Confusion and hardship are natural, if you hide these things from them they won’t be able to handle rough stuff in their lives in the future.
I long for my children to feel free to have the joy of true spiritual security, and to want nothing more than the same for their own kids.
I am committed to “swinging my kids towards Jesus,” are you?