Hearts in the Home -- Living and Learning about Life
The theme this week at HSB is teaching life skills. Sometimes I find those to be the hardest to teach; they certainly demand the most patience from me. Cleaning up after oneself and others (without complaining), using money wisely, taking responsibility for one's belongings, developing personal hygiene habits, preparing food (and cleaning up afterwards!!!! But I already mentioned cleaning up, didn't I?! ;), communicating respectfully, taking ownership of wrongful words and actions, dealing honestly with those of whom we can easily take advantage -- these are just some of the life skills that we, as parents, wrestle to work into the lives of our children. Many of them might be labelled "character" matters -- but isn't developing a good character a necessary life skill?
This may seem like a bit of a rabbit trail, but follow along with me for a moment . . .
As an artist (did you hear that???? I called myself an artist!), I have become quite fond of collage work, and recently picked up a library book that challenged the reader/artist to develop a series of same-sized pieces of art using a single image or symbol. Now, I'm not particularly a "heart" person -- but that's the symbol I somehow chose to work with (perhaps because I know how to draw a heart!!! LOL). And as I explored the artist's secret for myself, I found myself reflecting on heart issues -- my own, and those of my family.
It struck me that so much of life -- even "life skills" -- comes down to matters of the heart. In our home, children are often reminded to do things with a "happy heart," and we strive to consistently live with a "happy heart" -- no matter what comes our way (Philippians 4:11-13).
The everyday tasks of the mundane mess of life are affected by the state of our hearts -- applying ourselves to our work, being diligent, respecting each other . . . everything is affected by what holds our hearts.
Sometimes -- no, often -- I get discouraged by the fact that I have to say the same things over and over and over again. Please put away your stuff. Please clear up your dishes. Tidy your room. Brush your teeth. Flush the toilet. Please change the way you're speaking. Be kind. Be gentle. Treat others they way you want them to treat you. Please be respectful. Think of others first.
I wonder why my children's hearts seem so careless. So mean. So disrespectful. So self-centred.
But I wonder -- what's holding my heart when I fuss over these things. (And I do fuss.)
Am I not bound, stitched through-and-through, by the threads of my own self-centredness? Is there not a big swatch of the fabric of my being that wants my children to do and be what I want for my own sake? (My peace, my sanity, my comfort, my image?)
I can be like a lion with its pride -- only my roaring is out of my own foolish pride that is too often driven by the behaviours of my children rather than their hearts.
I am like my children in more ways than I wish to acknowledge. I get frustrated that their life skills just seem so non-existent sometimes in spite of my best efforts to teach them. But the reality is, we're all bound by the flesh, and we all, like the apostle Paul, are prisoners of the law of sin within us (Romans 7:18-25). We all wrestle with the good we want to do, and the wrong we are inclined to do -- in spite of our best intentions. I know it's true of me; it's true of my children, too! (They want to be "good" as much as I do -- and probably as much as I want them to be!)
So I am challenged to change my thinking about life skills. I am inspired to consider the fact that my children need less direction about specific life skills, and more heart connections -- with God, with each other, and with me.
When I have their hearts, I think everything else will fall into place.
The important question is, how do you hold your children's hearts?
Update: Kat's post ties in very nicely with the heart of the matter! I tend to be a "perfect mother" when what I really want to be is a "balanced mother"!