High River United Church of High River, Alberta
        

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25
Oct

What is Faith? & How do I share is with my kids?

Posted by on in Adventures in Faith & Family
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What is faith? Quick, don’t ponder, just respond. What is the first thing that you would say when asked to define “faith?”

Actually, I suspect that most of us had no quick reaction, and responded with “uhhh, well..” I’ve lived and worked in the area of faith for about 30 years now, and I still couldn’t give a quick answer. If you go to the dictionary, faith is associated with words such as trust, belief, confidence, and loyalty, and these are directed toward a person, God, or religion. Yet, somehow that doesn’t begin to capture the role that faith plays in our lives or the way faith feels as we live with it day by day.

For me faith has a warmth to it. Faith is about relationship with people and with God. Faith also includes times of doubt and questioning, pondering and exploration. It is a journey. It isn’t something clearly defined that I can just sit on a shelf and say, “There, I have faith!”

So, if we have trouble defining faith, how are we to share it with our children and grandchildren?   I want my children to have faith, but I can’t gift wrap it and present it to them fully formed. I can’t hand them a book and say, “Read this and you will have faith.”

Faith, as I said, is a journey. The faith I have now is not the same as the faith I had as a child, or as a teenager, or a young adult, or even five years ago. Of course, for me, it has always been rooted and shaped within the Christian context. But my inner understandings of God and of living the Way of Jesus continue to grow, deepen and shift as I live through the experiences of my life. The sheer confidence I had as a child moved into the questioning of a teen, then into a claimed and committed faith as a young adult, and then into the explorations and challenges brought to my faith through various adult experiences.

 

So, if that is how faith is, something intangible, continuing to be formed, then how do I offer that to my children? Here are three ways:

1. I live my faith. I speak of my faith. I demonstrate my spiritual practices.

          My kids need to see me praying, reading my Bible, sharing my resources, loving others, and all of the things that I do because I believe in God and follow the Way of Jesus.   I need to speak of my faith and live my faith so that they can see it. Kids imitate  what they see in the caring adults to whom they are attached. They will join in,  especially when they are little. As they watch me live faith, the seeds are planted.

 

2. I raise my children within a faith community.

           My children need to experience other people living their faith, so that it is not just   our family that does this. They need to learn from other people’s expressions of faith. We all need a spiritual community to nurture and to challenge us in our faith and  beliefs. I can’t raise my kids alone in faith. In the community, the seeds of faith are watered and nourished.

 

3. I remain open to their questions and their journey, while sharing what I believe and why I choose to do what I do.

           There will come a point when my kids challenge what I believe, point out how I don’t       really live what I say I believe, and try out their own beliefs in discussion with me. I have to make room for this. I must not panic! I just need to keep living my faith and  loving them unconditionally. They are on their own journey of faith. The seeds of faith I have  planted and which have been nurtured within a faith community will blossom when they are ready. I can’t force it. I can love the faith they have in the   way they have it.

 

The final thing I would say is that faith takes practice. If we want to have a deep sense of faith for ourselves and if we want our children to have faith, then we need to practice our faith. Practice includes praying every day, reading scripture, attending worship, living generously, showing hospitality to strangers, and demonstrating love toward those who might be considered enemies. These are not easy things to do, but they are necessary for faith to have deep roots that will get us through the storms of life.

Just like riding a bike or playing on a hockey team or doing math, faith takes practice. We can’t do it only occasionally and have a faith that sustains us. Our children will not grow and deepen their faith with only occasional experiences of a faith community and spiritual practices. Faith is a daily practice. Faith is a choice and a commitment we need to make. This choice may mean that we have to choose to not do other things. When we make this commitment, when we choose to make spiritual practice a key component in our daily living, then our sense, and our children’s sense, of God’s presence will deepen.

 

Faith gives us a place to go with our anxiety and alarm.

 

Faith gives us wisdom and guidance as we pursue our hopes and dreams.

 

Faith gives us a presence which is more than big enough to hold our sorrows and pain.

 

Faith is an anchor in chaos. Faith is deep roots in a storm. Faith is a comforting touch.

 

Faith is knowing that God is with you; you are never left alone, no matter what life brings your way. Faith is commitment to following the Way of Jesus, which brings joy and hope.

 

That’s why I want my children to have faith. And because I want them to have faith, I am committed to practicing my faith, growing my faith, and demonstrating my faith day by day.

 October 25, 2018                                ©Susan Lukey 2018

 

 

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123 MacLeod Trail S.W. High River, Alberta.

(403) 652-3168

hruc@telus.net

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