I have been lacking clarity and discernment lately in the area of friendships and our children. There are so many messages that I've allowed to populate my mind. Unfortunetely I have not been on my toes to the chaos these messages have caused until now. I've always had several ideas running around my head about how to spend time in friendships, but never really have come to a hard and fast conviction of what friendships and social time in my children's lives should look like. I suppose part of the reason why I haven't really evaluated what my convictions are is that my children are still pretty young and the subject didn't come up very often. The past 6 months have changed that. Now that my eldest is 9 I am finding that I need to figure out these convictions and quick! The pressure to spend time with others, invitations and oppourtunities for friendships are astoundingly many. The choices we make as parents will have a big impact on not only our children's friendships but their entire future.
I know that choosing the wrong company can lead to a plethora of issues. That was my childhood. I always seemed to choose the wrong crowd and suffered the consequences of shallow, rebellious relationships my entire childhood. It is really sad to look back and see that without any guidance the easy choice was always the wrong choice. Knowing this, I have complete confidence that I, as a parent need to be heavily involved in where our children spend their time and energy in relationship. The problem is that now I know I need to be involved what do I do? Praise God that I do not parent alone and have a very wise husband. I have much control over our daily schedules, but love that he ultimately looks at the schedule and can easily tell what is and is not wise. I find the more I consult my husband and pray to God the more readily I can make righteous decisions in this area.
The two biggest questions that seem to perplex me the most is who to allow the children to spend time with and how much time. As christians we want to be a light to the world. I want to train my girls to be able to to deal with difficult people and stand true to their convictions. I want them to share the love of Christ readily and show his love by speaking the truth in love. I find that this desire drives me to allow them to sometimes spend time with company that does not share the same convictions in their walk or a belief in God. I was under the idea that somehow my children were ready to be a shining example of Christ's love to others and they would not be tempted give into the temptation to follow the ways of the world. God ever to kindly rebuked me of this naiive attitude I've had. This morning as I was praying about a specific relationship in one of my children's lives I was reminded that we are not on earth to have pleasures and be popular. Was I allowing my child to compromise her character to be popular or liked? I was allowing her to pursue and spend much time in a relationship that was often causing her to sin. I am so thankful for God's gentle wisdom in this matter.
My dear friend Kim Doebler once told me that she often asks of relationships, "are we being more influential or being influenced." In this relationship my child wants to be in I am so dissappointed to say that she is being more influenced and unfortunetely it is for the detriment to her. I am not sure the other child has any intention to lead my little one into sin, but sin is what results from her time with this child. So as unpopular as I will be for limiting the time she has in this relationship I am convicted it is not for my or her popularity that we spend our time, it is for the Lord.
Thankfully we have many other relationships in our life that are uplifting and mutually encouraging in our walk with the Lord. We are so incredibly blessed to have others that lead us towards righteousness that we don't have enough time in our schedule to nurture all of those relationships in our lives and the childrens closely. We had a terrible afternoon of crashing this week after over committing and under discplining ourselves. It was a blaring red flag to me that I had mismanaged our time and stressed my entire family out by having too much time with friends and in enjoyment. We were no longer able to refresh and keep our home running and we all had a feeling of chaos. This has led me to evaluate how much time we spend with our friends. God has not spoken to me quite so clearly about this one. I think there must be a balance that I try and strike with this that happens before we commit to things. I know each family has a different tollerance for outside activities, ours happens to be very little. I know this about us. I know that we can only handle a few extras in our schedule before it has a bad effect. Given that understanding I think the best course is to look at the realitites of our capacity and schedule a little more clearly in the future and ask my husband a little more often his input!
I feel a have a little better vision and conviction to move forward with but still have a long ways to go. I don't want to raise children who are so guarded they don't know how to function outside of our home. But I also don't want children who value friendship more than God. It's a delicate balance, one that I am sure I'll continually be learning to seek God's will in.