Once again I have gained wisdom from one of my siblings.
Not long ago, I was talking to my sister and complimenting her on how faith-filled all of her children are. I was particularly impressed with one of her teenagers. I asked her what she and my brother-in-law had done to encourage him. She smiled and kind of shrugged her shoulders as if she had nothing to do with it. Well, I know better.
I know that my sister and her husband place a high priority on their faith and are very active in their home parish. I also know that they have made sacrifices to provide a Catholic education for their children. Prayer and a focus on living lives of love and kindness are also a part of their daily family life.
But, I know what she meant by that shrug. It's all really in God's hands, isn't it? As parents, there are times when we think we're doing all the right things for our children but we're not sure if the lessons are making the right impact. Perhaps their faith will grow and yield wonderful fruit OR perhaps they will struggle with their faith and with finding their way in the world. In truth, as parents, we just don't know what will happen.
I joke with my kids and tell them in a not-so-veiled reference to Star Wars, "Don't turn to the dark side! Stay toward the light!" In reality, all of our gifts can be used for good or for evil and, like us, our children have free will to choose their path. We can use our wonderful entrepreneurial minds to build great businesses that provide for our families OR we can use that business mind to land ourselves in white-collar prison. It's up to us.
After my sister shrugged her shoulders, she did say one thing that has stayed with me and guided my thinking ever since. She said, "It's good soil." When I looked confused, she went on to explain that the environment we allow our children to be a part of is the soil. Finding or helping them find "good soil" helps the seeds of their faith to be nourished and to grow. Just like in the parable, the seed that falls among weeds gets choked and dies. The seed that is thrown upon the path gets crushed underfoot. But, the seed that is sown in good soil sprouts and flourishes.
Once their sprout grows stronger, it can better withstand the harsher elements. Until that time, we need to look for ways to provide good soil for our little "sprouts".
I told you she was wise!
What are some of the ways you provide "good soil" for your children?