Recently I read an article about life-long conversations with your kids about certain issues. Currently, I feel like I’m starting one of the conversations with my 6-year-old.
We have the privilege of walking our kids to school. There are no buses in our district. It’s each family’s responsibility to get their own kids to school, and we live close enough to walk. We walk every day, whether it’s 75 degrees and sunny or 2 below and snowy. We walk because it gives me an uninterrupted 10 minutes each way every day with my daughter.
We do a variety of things during our walking time. We review spelling words for Friday’s spelling test. We talk about things that happened at home while getting ready for school, and the fun or interesting things that she’ll be doing in class that day.
But I want to be intentional with this time. Even though it’s only 10 minutes a day, over the course of a 180-day school year that’s 1,800 minutes, or 30 hours of conversation.
So, each day somewhere along the way to school I ask her three simple questions.
- What’s true about you?
- Who are you?
- How are you going to live today?
Because I ask her these questions every day she knows the answers I’m looking for.
- I’m loved.
- I’m kind and compassionate.
- Today I’m gonna be a good leader, listener, and friend.
Now, truth be told, about fifty percent of the time her answers are quick and rote. The other fifty percent of the time we are able to expand on one of these questions and go a little bit deeper. For example:
Me: How are you going to live today?
Kate: I’m gonna be a good leader, listener, and friend.
Me: Does anyone in your class need someone to be their friend today?
Me: Who? And how can you be a good friend to them?
Even though sometimes she’s simply going through the motions with the answers, my hope is that through these conversations I’m instilling in her an identity, and understanding of who she is and who she’s called to be.
I believe that we’re all created to find our sense of identity and being in a source outside ourselves (even though our culture may say otherwise). I believe that source was intended to be God. However, we oftentimes live with a distorted view of who God is. We tend to believe that God doesn’t have our best interest at heart, that God is holding out on us, that He desires to punish us with every chance he gets. Therefore, we don’t look to God to discover who we are. Instead, we end up going to other sources.
Some people go to relationships. Others, throw themselves into their careers. And others look to accomplishments and degrees.
Essentially, we can either achieve an identity – it’s something we attain and sustain. Or we can receive an identity. We can have someone else give it to us (i.e. Jesus).
Honestly, I don’t know if I’m doing it the right way with Kate, but I’m attempting to give her an identity and sense of meaning. I’m trying to help her see that she is loved no matter what she does or doesn’t do in life. I’m hoping that she will grow to rest in that love, and therefore, have the ability to love others. My desire is that she would grow up strong and courageous, that she would be a different kind of leader in the world, one who can listen well and put other people first.
That’s who I hope she’s becoming. And I know there’s no guarantee that my attempt to shape her identity will work. And if it does work, it will take a lifetime for her to understand it. I’m 35 years old and there are plenty of days that I seek to achieve an identity rather than receive one from God. I need continual reminders of who I am and I know she does too. That’s why we try to have that conversation every day.
So, what about you? What’s true about you? Who are you? And how are you going to live today?