True heroes for our children — Hannah Viviers
It’s been quite a challenge. Last year my beautiful Megghie (in the pic with my daughter) challenged me by telling me how in perpetual shock she was that parents were keen on having their kids celebrate “superheroes” like “Batman” or even characters like “Elsa” (from the animation ‘Frozen’) and yet there were real life super heroes in the Bible that we didn’t focus as much on.
I’ve been superbly guilty of exposing my children to the fabricated “superheroes” of this world MORE than the Godly superheroes of the Bible. And my kids, my daughter Sky in particular, have paid the price for it.
Battle for identity
The past couple of months have been a battle for the identity of my daughter. I thought I’d ingrained in her, her own beauty — her own power. I thought her obsession with Elsa was just “being a child”, after all wasn’t Elsa “just” the craze of the moment? ALL the little girls were insane about Elsa — I felt it was normal what my daughter was going through.
Until I started hearing things like, “But Mommy my hair isn’t as pretty as Elsa’s …”. I thought, ‘Oh baby girl, that’s probably the sentiment of you and almost every other black and mixed girl on the planet’. (You know “our hair” story …)
Since she was a baby I’d tell my daughter how gorgeous her hair was — I thought we had this hair thing down! But it didn’t stop at the hair — then it was: “But Mommy! I’m not as ‘pretty’ as Elsa…” I was like “Huh?!” I was screaming things in my head I’d rather not share here. After ALL I’d done to build this child’s confidence — NOW she was telling she didn’t feel as pretty as a darned cartoon character?!
I’d worked to instil in her that she was royalty — true royalty because she was the daughter of God — but clearly I hadn’t done this enough because even though I’d reminded my little girl of the lessons I’d shared with her over the course of her life, she was NOT budging!
Elsa was “prettier”, Elsa was “better”, Elsa, Elsa, Elsa!
An escalating issue
The issue escalated … Sky begun to feel her clothes weren’t good enough for her anymore. At first I’d thought it cute how fashion “conscious” she was — but from being one of the most grateful humans I’d ever met, my daughter became insatiable — NOTHING was good enough anymore.
We don’t spoil our kids — they don’t get everything they want. We’ve taught them to be happy with what they have and when we can’t get them something, we’ve worked at showing them that “stuff” isn’t what life’s about. Our gorgeous family and the incredible bond and love we share, our privilege to be children of God … those things are what matter.
Yes, our kids are still quite small but isn’t it NOW we have to teach them these things?
I thought we had this issue of identity resolved. It’s been quite a wake-up call to realise that my child is more in awe of a Disney character than she is of the God who created her.
I LOVE the Scriptures and yet my daily time in sharing the Bible with my children had been limited to only a couple of times a week … if that.
Sharing stories of Jesus
A few weeks ago, I felt it on my heart to just share Jesus with my children. I’d shared with them about Samson, Daniel, Esther, David and other incredible Bible Characters. I’m a really good story teller, something God’s gifted me with. So I’d tell my kids stories of these characters in ways that brought them to life! But most of the stories about Jesus were from their kiddies’ Bible, which I often felt didn’t portray the incredible presence and character that was Jesus.
So when I felt it pressed on my heart to share Jesus with them, I did it like I’d done with other Bible stories.
I shared with them some of the most told stories of Jesus’ life on earth. I acted some parts out — my children watched — captured by this incredible Man who had once walked this earth, and now lived in their hearts.
I shared with them how Jesus must’ve giggled when He saw those four guys lower their friend, FROM THE ROOF (!) to be healed by Jesus. He loved their faith and because of it the paralysed friend walked!
I told them of how He’d called the bent over woman in the temple. She was probably hiding, ashamed of how broken and misshapen she looked. She must’ve thought: “Surely the beautiful Jesus has no time for an old, ugly woman like me.”
Oh but Jesus saw her right through the crowd. And He thought she WAS beautiful. And He had all the time in the world for her.
I hobbled around my children’s room as I showed them how that woman must’ve walked to Jesus. I demonstrated how when He said, “Woman! Thou art loosed!” She’d probably slowly straightened this back she hadn’t been able to move properly for 18 years!
Sharing about Jesus’ power
I told my kids of the boy who’d given his lunch to Jesus so Jesus could feed THOUSANDS of people with it! “That’s what God can do with the little we have when we give it to Him,” I told them.
I shared with them how the disciples had SHOOED away kids who had wanted to come to Jesus. Oh Jesus was NOT impressed by that! I sat on the bed with my kids and looked into their eyes and pretended they’d been right there with the kids who’d sat on Jesus’ lap. And I showed them what Jesus would’ve done — He would’ve looked right into their eyes and said, “Hello Luke. Hello Sky.” My babies smiled. They got it!
As I shared Jesus with my kids, I could feel God’s presence fill the room.
The day after that encounter I was talking to Daddy God and I asked Him, “Daddy how do I teach my babies about You?”
He answered, “Keep telling them stories about Me. Bring Me to LIFE in their eyes. Make Me as real and as vivid to them as Disney makes their characters vivid and real to your kids.”
Then Daddy God showed me a picture of me in the kitchen, cooking with my kids, (as we do often). And in that picture, there He was with us — as real as were to each other. It was as if He was saying, “Include Me in everything you do with them — show them I’m there”.
Before, I’d talk to my kids about God, but it’d never dawned on me to make them aware of His presence THAT often throughout the day.
My son Luke is very sensitive to this and seems to live in constant awareness of God’s presence. Not so with my daughter Sky.
When I’d tell my children fairy-tales or read them secular books, my daughter would be captivated! Yet when I’d share Bible stories with them, her eyes would glaze over like she was totally bored. What we feed grows. I hadn’t fed my daughter enough Spiritual Nutrition to inspire in her a real hunger for her God.
The enemy is not slack
The truth is the forces of this world are not as slack. They’re working in ways we don’t even realise to get our kids’ attention and feed them with rubbish that creates strongholds in their lives.
We think our children “start” going crazy in their teens … meanwhile the enemy has been grooming our kids for rebellion since they were really, REALLY small. Rebellion towards us, rebellion towards any kind of authority, and above all: utter rebellion towards God.
Once our children reject and rebel against God that opens them up to things that end up growing to such an extent in their lives we struggle to get them back.
I don’t mean to sound spooky but the enemy is not playing when it comes to our kids. He won’t wait for them to get big and strong first. When they’re small and vulnerable is when he makes himself a cosy spot in their lives.
Children have always been the most attacked age group. Think abuse of any kind: it’s most prevalent among children. Think of war: children are the most affected; disease: children are the hardest hit; famine: children are the first to die; divorce: kids are the most torn.
Children are the most vulnerable and most open to the enemy’s assaults; which is why the Bible instructs us parents to teach our babies when they’re young, ground them firmly in God’s Word so when they’re older it’s those roots in God that will make them stand against the storms of life. And the lies of the enemy.
I had to change course with my little girl. I had to wake-up to the fact that the: “I’m not good enough” LIE wasn’t just a “phase”. If I didn’t wake-up to what had a hold over her, I could’ve lost my child a little each day. In a few years, who would she have become? Lost and separated from her true God-given identity.
I also had to take responsibility for not being more diligent about what my daughter’s focus had been. I didn’t know how destructive I was being when I encouraged her Elsa craze. I bought her the clothes, sang the songs with her, fed her growing appetite to be something she wasn’t. I didn’t mean to — but I did.
Even schools, especially pre-schools, warn us about wrapping our kids up in Disney characters and fantasies.
I’m not demonising Disney — not at all. However, I am calling out the amount of focus we allow our children (that I allowed my daughter) to give to it.
There will come a time when I won’t be able to guard her heart for her — but for now, God’s entrusted me with my little girl’s heart. Because right now she can’t guard it herself. She’s too small.
The other night I told my children of Peter walking on the water. Just keeping his eyes on Jesus made him defy nature! Later that evening, I was so blessed to hear my son Luke telling his Dad of Peter. Then he added, “But Peter didn’t focus on Jesus. He looked at the waves and began to sink. So we have to focus on Jesus so we don’t sink!” He told it to his Dad word for word just as I’d shared with them.
There is POWER in the Scriptures. Power our children are never too young to access.
I remember what Daddy God told me and without being “weird” and a “nut” about it, quite often through the day, I’m now sharing with my kids my love for the Scriptures and the love this amazing person, Jesus, has for them.
I’m seeing REMARKABLE change in my little girl. And all we’ve done is make Jesus so very real in her life. When it comes to superheroes, above all, I want my kids to look up to the Greatest Superhero of all time: Jesus.
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