Sitting in church on a cold February morning, the Pastor was making his way through the book of Ecclesiastes. And then it hit me. As I was listening to a message on things that distract us from the meaning of life, I was convicted. Before I share with you what specifically I was challenged with in my life, let me first be honest.
I am enamored with "things." I struggle with wanting a bigger house, more furniture, more clothes, more jewelry. In fact, these are things I deeply desire and even can justify why I should have. Maybe you can relate? And "things" aren't bad. Living a lavish lifestyle and having plenty, in and of itself, is not bad. Abraham, one of the most prominent men in the Bible, was just one of many whom God blessed with "stuff." Wealth is not bad. God Himself pours out His blessings and provides not only essentials, but abundance for His children.
But something struck me in a new and fresh way that wintry Sunday morning.
As the snow softly fell outside the window, I heard an ungodly statistic fall on my ears. The amount of excess that is disposed of and thrown away by American families is insane. American children have more toys than all of the other children in the world, and yet we don't even value the surplus and abundance we have. So not only is there a gratefulness issue of not appreciating and valuing what God blesses us with, there is a distraction issue. Again, let me be honest. Truth be told, my children have abundance when it comes to things. Their toy room has looked like a freaking toy store at times. Each one of my girls has always had a heart of gratitude and they appreciate and value what they have been blessed with. They go to great lengths to take care of and not destroy the toys they have been given.
Toys serve a great purpose. Independent play and imaginary play are born with dolls, action figures, or stuffed animals. Sensory skills, coordination, and manipulation, as well as creativity, are mastered when playing with Legos or play-doh. My conviction has less to do with the abundance and more to do with the heart.
The first challenge is obvious. Are we giving our children an abundance out of our desire for them to live lavish lifestyles to the point that we are not teaching them gratitude? Are we filling their rooms and closets with so much stuff that we neglect to teach them to be grateful and to be stewards of what they have been entrusted with. Do we teach them to take care of their belongings and to have hearts that are thankful, recognizing that they are not entitled to a plethora of toys, books, clothes, or electronics? We have a generation that is demanding because our children have been taught to be entitled since birth. We feed their sense of self and then wonder why they are so entitled, selfish, and ungrateful. This leads to my bigger concern as a mother.
Am I distracting and hindering my children from their intended purpose? Am I contributing to their demise? You see, if I actually believe that my children (and myself) have been created for a purpose, then I must know what that purpose is. I believe the Bible clearly states that God has created each and every one of us with a purpose. And while each of our individual skill sets look differently and our gifts vary, our purpose is the same. The Bible tells us that ALL of creation was created for the glory of God. God's desire in creating mankind was to bring Him glory and for us to have fellowship with Him. My purpose, and my children's purpose, is to know God and to make Him known--to bring Him glory. That is when it hit me.
At what point am I contributing to distracting my children from their intended purpose in being created? Am I giving my children so much that I am feeding their desire to serve self? Am I giving my children in abundance to the point that they are not lacking, but are instead feeding pride, and a sense of entitlement that they deserve what they have? Do I keep my kids so busy, so distracted, surrounded by so much "stuff" that I am actually contributing to their demanding that self is put on the throne of their lives instead of God? By giving them abundance, am I teaching them that the world revolves around them?
We are all at war. We are at war and in constant battle to fight for who will win control of our heart. Where is our affection? Satan would love nothing more than for us to stay distracted. Because when we are distracted and are feeding self, we are not making room for God. We are placing ourselves on the throne of our lives, serving self, and making ourselves gods. But we cannot serve two masters. As a mother, I am challenged to make sure I am feeding what I want to actually want to grow. I am convicted in areas where I am contributing to teaching my children to feed self, rather than living out their purpose for which they have been created.