LOST IN A FALLEN WORLD
Without family, community, and God’s loving direction and guidance in our lives—we are lost in the world. We are soul-searching in attempt to discover our truest selves, but our truest selves aren’t complete without a relationship with our Creator.
While we are developing and growing up, and because everyone is so different, not all of us are introduced to the same Higher Power, and we aren’t all introduced in the same way. Based on our family, our culture and location, not everyone is exposed to the same understanding of a loving, omniscient, omnipresent God who wants a relationship with us, who cares for us.
In a fallen world where there is pain and suffering and death, we need an answer to our ‘why’ questions, and we do: sin. Then, we want a solution to sin, and we have that, too: Jesus Christ. I wish I had understood more about Jesus in a personal way growing up, and I’ll explain why.
IMPORTANCE OF FAITH IN UPBRINGING
Looking back on my life now as a Christ-follower, I view the concept of family very differently than I did when I was younger, and an unbeliever.
Everyone has a story about family. Family was what I cherished most growing up. Some of my favorite memories include playing ball outside with my dad and brother after dinner, and the smell of homemade chocolate chip cookies with milk during TV marathons on Friday nights. There were the occasional ice cream trips on week nights, donuts after church on Sunday mornings, and movie nights on Fridays or Saturdays. Family was my reason to endure school to return home and play with my Superman toys in the comfort of my room. But in a fallen world, anything can happen.
My parents divorced when I was 11. I experienced trauma that shredded my inner world. It eradicated my sense of self-care and my joy. My anticipation for life in general dissipated to bitterness and reticence. I didn’t have faith in anything else outside of family, so life itself felt destroyed and left in ruins. Regardless of my family’s weekly church attendance pre-divorce, I didn’t develop a personal relationship with Jesus because I didn’t understand the Bible. More importantly, I didn’t understand how the Bible is about our salvation in Christ, and our relationship to God the Father through Jesus.
My intention in writing this article is to explain why, in hindsight as a Christ-follower, I believe faith can have a powerful impact on the spiritual and emotional health of children when affected by trauma.
INTRODUCING JESUS INTO A CHILD’S LIFE
The innocence of a child’s mind can believe the goodness of who Jesus really is, when explaining in age appropriate words what Jesus said and did in the Bible, and in our own lives.
I have a step-son who is 9-years-old, and my wife and I pray for him nightly at his bedtime so that he hears Jesus’s name every day. Sometimes, he even wants to be the one praying and us listening, and his prayers are very sweet.
We have him use a Bible app for kids on my wife’s phone so he can watch videos portraying Bible stories in animation. We talk about Jesus, faith, and questions or experiences we have while he is around so he is exposed to Jesus in an every-day sort of way. We don’t want for Jesus to just be a name in a prayer for him, but someone who is real, who he can be personally involved with.
INSUFFERABLE ADOLESCENCE AND CORRUPTIVE IDOLS
We are doing for my step-son what I did not receive growing up. The importance of exposing children to Jesus early on, is the difference between a child who suffers in a more lonely and destructive way, and one who will suffer in a more bearable way through the means of community, faith, and prayer. Every child will eventually suffer in one way or another because we live in a fallen world due to sin. But the suffering can be mitigated when we lean on Christ.
Family was for me as a child what Jesus is for me today. When I became a teen after my parents divorced, I turned to other idols that deviated from peace, joy, and the ability to process my traumatic emotions in more healthy ways. Turning in the direction of what the world offers us to cope with instead of Jesus, stunted my emotional growth and prevented me from understanding genuine intimacy. When our god isn’t Jesus Christ, we may end up forcing ourselves to pretend we can make all the hard parts of life invisible, if only we focus hard enough on other, less important, transient things in life; things that only feel good in the moment. Idols that release endorphins and distract our attention, but entrap our souls.
BRINGING JESUS INTO OUR DARKNESS
Learning of the personal Jesus (and not just the religious, “only-in-a-church-building” Jesus) so much later in my life, left my teenage years unbearable, and I don’t want that for other teenagers and children of any generation.
I want kids to understand there is hope in Christ before they experience trauma, so they can come to know and believe early on that they are not alone, even when it feels like people don’t or can’t understand them. He is able to help each and every one of us persevere through our darkest moments, if we would turn to Him in faith in His power and willingness to not only meet us where we are, but deliver us from our fears and our feelings of hopelessness (1 John 4:4).
We can find hope, comfort, and healing in Christ. That is the difference between life having its way with us, and Jesus molding our way for us. I pray we will start turning our lives over to Jesus as Lord; encouraging our young ones, and praying for them to believe in their hearts that He loves them dearly, infinitely, and unconditionally; that He will bless them and carry them through the painful fallenness of this world.
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