I’m a firm believer that embracing the messy, challenging moments of life is vital to becoming a disciple, or a learner, of Jesus. The saying goes, “April showers bring May flowers.” We love the beauty of the flowers, but do we really love the dirtiness that comes with the rain? We probably don’t love it, but we have to embrace it if we want the flowers. It’s the only way the color will break through the ground. Without the rain, we’re left with dead sticks. If we want life and abundance, we have to welcome the mud.
That’s all well and good, but how do we teach our children to embrace the challenge? It’s a very mature thought, and one that usually does not come naturally programmed into our brains when we arrive on this Earth. I think there are three simple ways we can start with to help our children embrace challenges and see them as opportunities for growth as they grow older.
How many times do we grumble when life gets hard? When our child is faced with a difficult assignment or a challenging moment at school, let our first reaction be to stop and thank God together. The bigger picture is that it will help our child to grow, and that’s always a good thing. When we come from a heart of thankfulness, it changes our perspective on the whole situation.
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18
It’s hard to see our children go through difficult situations. As parents, we have to avoid the tendency to want to step in and protect our children. Doing that will teach them to rely on others to fix life when it gets messy. I’ll never forget the day that my daughter came home from school upset over a scuffle she and her best friend had. Mean words were spoken (and even written). Feelings were hurt, and neither girl was giving in. A quick phone call to her friend’s mother revealed that she and I were on the same page. We were going to teach our girls to work out their differences in a healthy way, shedding light on the ways God wanted them to each grow as individuals and also how to walk out conflict in a healthy way. It was a mature expectation for two 10-year olds, but you know what? They did it, and their friendship is stronger for it. Creating space by stepping back allowed the girls to choose to lean into the challenge and grow from it.
You know what also helped them resolve their conflict? Imparting the tools needed to work it out. We need to fill their toolbox with what they need to grow through challenges. It will help them embrace the rain if they know they have what they need to do it. The most important tool we can start with is teaching them they are not alone. Jesus is always with them to give guidance and strength. He wants us to lean on Him.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
Telling stories is a great way to encourage our children to embrace life’s challenges. One of the best stories I’ve ever read on this topic is It Will Be Okay. Little Seed and Little Fox face some scary, lonely moments, but there’s a farmer who always has their best in mind and is watching over them. When the farmer took Little Seed and put him in a messy, dark place, he could never have imagined what the farmer knew would happen all along. Even in the messy, dark places, we can trust Jesus to get us through. Please read this book to your kids! It’s excellent!
How do you teach your kids to embrace life’s challenges so that they can see that April showers bring May flowers?