What have I learned from my children as I share my faith with them?

16 January 2018

Sharing faith with our children doesn't always look how we imagine it might. But, Cathy shares how when we open our heart to new ways of thinking this can deepen our own relationship with God.

Cathy Porter is a mum, as well as being ordained and a vicar’s wife. She and her husband Andrew, have 3 children who are now 17, 15 and 8 years old and both of their girls have a diagnosis of ASD. You can follow the ups and downs of their family life & faith on her blog: www.clearlynurturing.wordpress.com

The most wonderful thing I have found about sharing faith together in our family life is the way it is not at all one way. It is not simply something I pass to my children but something we grow in together. And I learn probably more about faith from them than I feel I successfully pass on to them (whatever that looks like!)

What have I learned from my children as I share my faith with them?

  • That I’m meant for community! That I can’t, however much I really, really want to, do it all on my own. Part of living a life of faith is accepting help, and being served. I’m certain that without family life the way it is for us I would have resisted and denied this particular adventure for a very long time. It is not at all easy for many of us to accept help sometimes, but doing so opens the door to so much of the stuff of a life of faith. It challenges our fixed thinking, it teaches us more about grace and graciousness, it challenges us to see ourselves as others do, and we learn new things about how God loves and cares for us, it trains us in the skills we need to work and walk with others.
  • That questioning can be a wonderful thing! We are a curious family, hungry to know and understand pretty much everything. Our oldest’s first words were not Mummy or Daddy but ‘what?’, ‘why?’, ‘where?’, ‘when?’, ‘who?’ (swiftly followed by ‘No!’ of course)! It has been really great to be faced with so many questions about faith, about our experience of it, about how we read the Bible & why we do, about historical evidence, philosophical ponderings. I haven’t by any means known all the answers but together we have learned a lot as we have investigated in books and asked others what they think, and as we do that including God in the conversation we have learnt more about his character, his faithfulness, his powerful big-picture thinking and his attention to detail.
  • Which neatly leads to attention to detail… this is a huge part of our family life. The little things matter, and often it is the smallest (to us maybe) of things being different that can spark huge anxiety. My children are gifted at noticing the detail – and often delighting in it. Being out in the garden, or on a walk with them by my side opens my eyes again and again to the intricate and therefore to God’s amazing pattern designs and breathtaking engineering in creation from the very smallest to the vast. Listening to the verses about flowers not worrying about their clothes takes on a whole new dimension when I see flowers through my children’s eyes.
  • That living an authentic and intentional life of faith together doesn’t have a formula, or a one size fits all look. Our family routines, our strengths and our limitations mean that the ‘off the shelf’ faith-filled family I was expecting to have is simply not possible, we do not fit the mould I was brought up to aim towards with its quiet times, advent readings and family mealtime devotions! I have had to grieve the loss of some of those expectations, and open my heart to new ways of thinking and doing faith together which has actually been unexpectedly freeing and has deepened my relationship with God.

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