I learn something new from my kids all the time.
When Brienne was three years old, she could throw an unbelievable tantrum. I remember thinking that her behavior couldn’t get much worse. Then along came Jonah with all his issues and he made Brienne look like an angel. But nothing could compare to Vivienne. Don’t let her precious little face and sweet smile fool you. She can punch you in the mouth while smiling innocently. She can steal a toy from Jonah and then come to me and tattle on him! She can throw every piece of food on the floor while looking you directly in the eye. She is strong-willed and won’t back down from a challenge.
But she is also watching me. Looking to me in order to see how she should act. Just the other day, I was wearing some flip flops and she decided she needed some too. I found an old pair of Jonah’s and put them on her feet. She was so proud of herself. I was standing in the playroom wearing my flip flops, leaning against the doorframe with my arms crossed. She looked at me, and then she stood in the exact same position that I was standing in – leaning against the door frame in her flip flops, arms crossed. It was so cute and hilarious. My mom and I giggled about it. But in reality, it scared me a little. I mean, she is truly watching everything I say and do. Everything.
When I lose my temper, she is watching.
When I’m too exhausted to get off the couch, she is watching.
When I choose my iPhone instead of choosing to play with her, she is watching.
When I cry, she is watching.
When I choose despair instead of joy, she is watching.
My kids are watching every time I mess up. But they are also watching when I (occasionally) get things right. And sometimes they surprise me.
Like when Brienne asked all her friends to donate shoes for orphans instead of bringing gifts for her 10th birthday.
Like when Vivienne serves Jonah by taking him a snack or giving him his favorite toy.
Like when Jonah displays empathy toward Vivienne. If Jonah has a cup of juice or a snack of goldfish but Vivienne doesn’t have anything, Jonah will start crying because he thinks Vivienne needs what he’s got. And at first, I thought his crying was sweet, but after listening to the whining multiple times a day, it started to become a little annoying. (I mean, clearly, Vivienne does not want her juice. She just threw it down five times.)
But as I analyzed the situation, I realized that Jonah just wants Vivienne to enjoy the same things that he enjoys. He doesn’t want her to miss out on the goodness that he is experiencing.
And it got me thinking. How often do I cry out for the poor? For those that don’t have a roof over their heads or food on their tables. What about my neighbors who don’t have the joy of Christ? Do I have empathy for them? Do I even care about the problems of those around me? Of those around the world?
So many times I find myself drawn to people who are just like me. People who don’t have a lot of “needs.” People who already love Christ so they don’t need me to tell them about His joy.
But I know there are other people watching me. The people on the sidelines. The young mom whose child has autism and she has no hope for his future. The homeless man on the street corner who sees me walk by in my “Jesus loves you” t-shirt. The little girl down the street whose parents never seem to care where she is. These people are watching to see if I’m going to lend a hand. To see if I am who I say I am. They are looking for Christ in me.
And here’s the thing – I don’t want those people to just be “sideline people” in my life. I want to show them Christ’s love. Because He loves me and gives me grace and mercy, I am called to do the same for those around me. James 4:17 says that “if anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” What an amazing and convicting verse!
I am praying for opportunities to show the love of Christ in my neighborhood and in our community. I want to be a light in the darkness. I want to help give people hope in their despair. I need to show Christ to those around me.
Because someone is always watching.