The ages of my kids currently are 13, 11, 6, and 4. When people hear that, their eyes grow wide with amazement and seemingly empathize with my current state of exhaustion. While dealing with 13-year-old drama and new levels of emotions, my 6-year-old is exerting new independence with each negotiation to my basic demands. Each phase has its own levels of challenge and weariness. From physically to mentally demanding, raising children is not all unicorns and glitter.
While I am entering the mentally demanding years with my older girls, I am finding that I am enjoying learning how to connect with them. When they were little, I could read to them and engage with them through their play, but recently, I have had to find other ways to reach them and know their hearts. We talk regularly. I have always made it a priority to ask questions and listen, but engaging with them through their interests has become a little more challenging.
My oldest has inherited my love for all things Harry Potter, yet her music tastes have altered from what is typically playing on our car radio. I have had to make more of an effort to delve into her music world. Her current favorite is the duo Twenty-One Pilots. When they were first introduced to me, I didn’t think much of them. However, the more my daughter wanted to share their songs and lyrics with me, I realized that she wanted me to connect with her through their music. While it’s not my typical genre, I have enjoyed delving into their lyrics searching for their deep spiritual meaning. When she discovers a new song, she often wants me to hear it and get my take on it. I have to make the effort to connect with her or she may not want to share her heart with me.
My younger daughter is a bit easier. I often wonder if we do share the same heart. She loves my music and we share the same literary interest. She is a writer and uses her right brain far more than her left. Our connection is easier, but I still have to make an effort. I am currently reading Wonder, a book that I told her we would read together and see the movie when it is released. She read the book in May. The movie opens on Friday and I have about 175 pages to go. She has been very patient with me as I have waited until the last minute to crack it open. In fact, she has gone on to read two more sequels of the book before I even got to this one. It would be easy for me to continue with reading books I am interested in. I typically wouldn’t pick up a fiction children’s book based on a child with facial disfigurement. My daughter is drawn to books about children with challenges. She reads them repeatedly and wants to discuss them. I have had to make an effort to put aside my interests and invest time in reading this book.
It may seem simple, but it really does help me feel connected to the hearts of my girls as they grow older. All it takes is listening to a song and reading a book.
It makes me think about the effort I make getting to know the heart of God. He already knows my heart. He created it. There was a time where my activities and religious checklist were my only ambition. The more activities I performed for God, the closer to Him I would become.
Those activities nearly destroyed me. They nearly cost me my relationships with those closest to me. Instead of moving me closer to the heart of God, they created a barrier between us.
I had to stop, put everything aside, and refocus on Him. I had to crack open the Bible. His heart is right there. We just have to read it.
When was the last time you opened the Bible, to read for yourself what His heart really says? Our world has begun to distort God’s truths by covering them in sugar-coated goodness. I find myself asking, “What does the Bible say about that?” Open it and read it for yourself. While there are some beautiful words within, there is also a lot that makes you think and wonder about. You may not always walk away with a warm fuzzy feeling. You might just have to do a little praying when His heart is not what you thought it would be and yours is a little further away than you realized.
Don’t let someone else’s interpretation determine for you what God’s heart says. There are a ton of Bible apps and online Bible resources. Read and study for yourself. His word is for us. We were created to know Him and love Him. Get closer to his heart and find this truth for yourself. Don’t wait until the last minute, you may just miss your chance.
Side note: I am thinking through and praying about an online Bible study, straight from the Bible. The cost would be free to join because I want to make it available to anyone who wants to study God’s word, yet doesn’t always have the means to purchase a $15 workbook. I also want to make it available to anyone, day or night, who would like to be a part of a meaningful spirit-led discussion, yet may not have a schedule that would allow them to attend a study during normal hours. If this is something you would be interested in, leave a comment or send me a message on my Facebook Page. I’ll post more about the format at a later date.