It has become all too common today to see people (children AND adults) engrossed in their phones, no matter where you are. I’ve watched couples on dates ignore the person in front of them in favor of clicking around on Facebook. I’ve seen teens snap pictures of their feet while walking trails to post on Instagram, rather than looking up at the nature around them. And we’ve ALL seen people running all over town in an effort to catch elusive Pokemon.
Desiring God blogger Bonnie McKernan writes that on a recent beach trip, she watched a child wander the sand focused on the screen in his hand. It was an extraordinarily beautiful day and he was missing it.
McKernan said this image made her think about her own parenting, and how she wants to teach her children to appreciate beauty in the world around them.
She writes, “Are the things I am consistently putting in front of my children helping them see and enjoy God, or are they blocking the view of him? It’s easy to simply focus on what not to put before them, but forget to show them beauty, or forget to teach them about beauty when they’re exposed to it.”
Beauty is from God. He gave us beauty in everything from mountains to valleys, and from oceans to deserts. There is beauty to be found in music, in literature, and in art. But if we fail to look for it, beauty is easily missed.
McKernan said she has resolved to teach her children to see God’s beauty in the following ways:
1. Put before your children what is true and lovely.
“Saturate their lives with God’s word and God’s creation. What I put before them is often more important than what I am not.”
Refuse the temptation to place the trendy or flashy in your children’s lives. Instead, intentionally immerse them in creation.
2. Parent them like God parents you.
“Am I parenting from God’s strength and grace, or from my emotions? My ultimate goal should be that my children desire to do what is good and right and excellent because that’s who God is, not just because I say so.”
Grant your children the love and grace that you have learned from your Father.
3. Teach them how everything points to God.
“Teach them about beauty that makes our soul soar, and about ugliness that makes our soul ache… The goal isn’t developing cynicism, but identifying truth and valuing beauty. If we’re regularly showing them beauty and excellence, it quickly becomes easier to identify a counterfeit."
Show them the connections between beauty and God. But also talk about the darkness in our world. Darkness also points to God’s goodness because the dark makes His light shine brighter.
4. Stop relying on someone else to teach for you.
“God entrusted these sons and daughters to my husband and me. Teaching them should be a constant, intentional, organic process in our home and outside of it — at times, requiring surprisingly few words.”
You can’t reply on your child’s Sunday school teachers or extended family to do this for you. Though others can certainly influence your children, the responsibility of teaching your children about the beauty of God is ultimately yours.
5. Enjoy God in your own life and allow them to see it.
“Don’t focus so much on my children’s souls that I neglect my own. How can I point out beauty to them if I can’t see it myself? Why would they yearn for the joy of knowing God if that joy is not evident in me? My life needs to revolve around Christ, not my children. I can parent far better when my heart is set on him first.”
Appreciating God’s beauty isn’t only for your children. Slow down and enjoy it yourself. When your children see that your heart is set on the Lord, they will be more apt to follow your lead.
If you need a little inspiration to start really seeing God’s creation, prayerfully meditate on the Scripture verses in the following video:
Carrie Dedrick is an editor of Crosswalk.com. When she is not writing or editing, she can usually be found teaching dance classes, running marathons, or reading with at least one adopted dog on her lap.
Publication date: August 5, 2016