From the Inside Out
by Kym Wright
And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your sons [and daughters] and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. Deuteronomy 6:6-7
Oh, what a way to live. In teaching our children, we take on the responsibility of meeting—not only their educational needs—but also their spiritual, social, and physical needs as well. Our lives become a mentoring, a discipling of one generation to the next. As the verse says, we choose to walk out our Christianity—in front of our children.
When our oldest children were still preschool age, my husband and I saw a bumper sticker which changed our lives. Yes, a bumper sticker. It merely stated, "Character is who you are in the dark." We mulled it over, discussing the merits and truth or fallacy of that statement. We batted around different one-liners describing what character really is and which actions in various situations would demonstrate our true character. We realized darkness covers a lot, but our children see everything. We reasoned that, plain and simple, character really is who you are in front of the kids. That’s when, many times I’m sad to say, we let our guard down musing, "Oh, it’s just the children."
Our prayer became, "Lord, let us live our lives pleasing to you, in front of our children." We wanted those who know us best, to love us most. We desired to demonstrate a high standard of living which begins at home. Lofty, lovely goals, but so very hard to live out. It requires discipline on our parts and God’s grace and strength—to even attempt it.
Around the same time we read in an early edition of The Teaching Home magazine of one mom who decided her Christian witness in front of her children was so important that she didn’t want to do anything which caused her to lose that testimony. If going on a field trip made her impatient, crabby, or want to yell at the children, harming their spirits, then she did not go on the field trip. If she caught herself reading a book and demanding her rights to ‘Her Time’— showing selfishness—then she would refrain or work it in when it didn’t take teaching time from the children.
In Scripture we read a verse, and though harsh in tone, it still spoke to our hearts. Talking to the scribes and Pharisees, Jesus warned,
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. . . first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also. . . Even so you too outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
We determined that for our family, Christianity would be lived out at home first, then we would be allowed to move outward to others. This plays out when one of our children is squabbling with a sibling, then asks to invite a friend over. We instruct them in kindness toward the sibling first. "Let’s have right relationships here at home first, then we can make room for kindness to friends," we instruct, and give the siblings ample opportunities to work and play together, kindly. We are trying to put feet to our Christianity, and walk it out.
In my life, I decided if being busy causes me to lash out, or if preparing for something—even as worthy as a Bible study—makes me take out my pressure on the children, then I need to back off and get my priorities straight. Speaking engagements, fun activities—oh, life in general-all of these I must live out with the mind of Christ- and with Christ in mind. So, I simplify. I say "No" often to outside activities. I try to find God’s rest in situations, His peace.
One friend had a surefire way of determining his frustration level. When breakfasting with the children before he went to work, he could tell how tense he was by what he called, "a five-tie morning." Already dressed for work, every tense moment would find him flipping the end of the tie which hung around his neck. Flipping just once was not a harmful move, just a nervous habit. But, when he realized he had flipped his tie for the fifth time, he took note. Let’s calm down, make this more fun, avoid getting stressed out. Let’s just enjoy each other and work together toward the common goal.
Homeschooling tends to force us to work out these family relationships. We are together so much of the time, it is almost impossible to live in such proximity without relationally mending fences, tearing down walls, and building bridges . . . sometimes on a daily basis.
I remember a time, when our church needed new curtains sewn for a Sunday School classroom. I was on my way to volunteer for the job, when I sensed a question in my heart, "Why are you willing to sew curtains for them when your own boys’ windows are without?" Humbled, yet inspired, I went home and made curtains for our boys to show them how important they are to me. To live it from the inside out. When the girls were old enough to sew, we did volunteer to make things for the church working on them together.
Working alongside our children with the farm animals, taking the time to thank them for their help, Making verbal note of their good attitude. Praising them for a job well done.
When the older girls decided to model bridal and special occasion dresses, I joined them. I helped out in the back room to encourage them, to share the fun and the experience, and to help them say "No" when a dress was a bit too revealing or inappropriate. Walking by the way.
When one of our daughters entered into her first boy/girl relationship, we walked through it with her. For the first few months every outing included his family and a good portion of ours dinner, movies, ballgames we moved in a group. We were letting them get to know each other better in a nonthreatening environment, amongst people who know and love them, taking off the pressure. We answered the myriad of questions from her and from our other children . . . teaching, training, living it out and helping them to make right decisions.
Choosing to live from the inside out isn’t always easy. It’s not always the choice I make. But, it’s always the best choice. It brings peace and God’s blessing. It shows character in front of our children.
Then we will someday hear the words spoken about us as were said to that proverbial Virtuous Woman:
Her children rise up and bless her
Mark & Kym Wright have 8 children, 2 of whom have graduated. Mark is in computer technology and Kym pens the Learn & Do Unit Studies for and with her children. She was the editor of the GHEA Newsletter for two years, until she became a columnist for The Old Schoolhouse magazine, and a regular contributor to Homeschooling Today magazine, along with writing for other publications. She loves baking bread, writing, sewing, and being with her family. She tries hard to live out what she sees in Scripture and writes about. Visit their website at: www.alwrightpub.com or order a catalog from: PO Box 81124, Conyers, Ga 30013.