My husband’s and my first apartment was 500 square feet of sculpted brown carpet, avocado accents and dirt brown tile. I loved every inch of it, even though I hadn’t designed or decorated a square foot. It was functional, and for the time, at least as long as we paid our rent, it worked. But eventually, we outgrew the space and had to move on to a more permanent home, where we could grow our relationship and our family. We wanted something of our own that we could put our stamp on. We became homeowners and left renting behind.
The first thing we noticed about owning our home was the amount of care taking was required to keep the house in shape. We never had to do that before because we had landlords that mowed the lawn, paid for the garbage and did the yard work. Owning was more challenging than renting because we had to put forth the effort. But because we cared about what we owned, we gladly did the work to maintain it, and ultimately, make it better.
When our children are small, they are basically “renting” their faith from us. We act as landlords, or caretakers; we read scripture with them, we bring them to church, we facilitate discussions. As they get older, they take over some of the responsibilities, like reading and praying on their own, but we are still doing the bulk of the caretaking because we still have the control over a majority of the decisions they will make. There comes a time when kids need to move from “renting” to “owning”. Hopefully, their faith at some point needs some room to grow and flourish, and that only happens if they become personally invested.
When my husband and I became owners the amount of work could have been overwhelming. Thankfully we had the tools needed to mow lawns, rake leaves and vacuum floors ready to go because our parents and family and friends had showered us with these gifts prior to moving into the new home. As our kids grow under our care it’s important to be giving them the tools they will need in order to become caretakers of their own faith one day. I learned how to do yard work and clean house from watching my mother and father do these chores. Your child will acquire the tools they need for faith by watching you cultivate your own walk with Jesus and through your intentional modeling of Jesus.
Eventually our children are going to have to make a choice to continue renting or moving into faith ownership. As parents, that is one decision that ultimately we have no control over. That is between them and Jesus. We can do everything on the checklist and they may still run off the rails. It happens, believe me. When it does, if it does, all we can do is hold on to the fact that we gave them the tools they needed and that they have a God who loves them more than we do.
I think that’s something worth owning.