Slowing Down

S

I love getting stuff done and getting them done fast. There is no better feeling than checking off my to-do list. 

I quickly learn that when I take my girls out, I have to slow down. Life is not about rushing to get stuff done. Instead, it is finding opportunities in the ordinary day to day life to teach girls, especially God’s truths.

The wrong paradigm is to assume kids learn the best at school or some sort of program, including Sunday school. These are supplements. The real learning comes from modeling their parents.  The richest education I can give them is by slowing my life down, bringing them alongside me (and Wai Jia), and then finding teaching opportunities on a day-to-day basis. 

This is hard because it counters what my flesh wants to do. Our lives are filled with instant gratification. I want to pay my bills now. If I don’t like what I see on YouTube, I switch videos. This instant-thinking bleeds into raising my children.  I also want my children to learn things now. I realized that my kids instead are teaching me to slow down because that’s how they learn and grow.

I always thought it is hard to teach my kids truths, especially God’s truths. When we were in Uganda, I prepared pages of notes when I taught at the Bible School. It is not possible to do the same for my toddlers. Haha, try sitting them down for fifteen minutes, and you will realize that’s impossible. So what should I do?

The job of a teacher is to adapt his/her training ways according to the student’s level. It is getting down to their level and help them improve a notch up. So how can I change my ideas so that a two-year-old can understand?

Classrooms have their role, but life lessons are often caught outside of school.  My job is not merely bringing them to Sunday School but helping them see God’s truths in their little world. 

This is not revolutionary. It has been done for generations. It is also Biblical. In Deuteronomy 6:6-9, God told the Israelites the following:

“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

Deuteronomy 6:6-9 (NKJV)

God wanted the Israelites to remember His ways and His rules because when they followed God’s ways, it brings life. Not only that, He wanted the parents to teach their kids diligently.  Diligently doesn’t mean once off. It means as many times as possible.  It is the parents’ responsiblity.   It is my responsibility.

How is this to be done? It is not sending them to school.  It is to be done in day-to-day living. When you sit down with your kids. When you get up with them. When you teach them as you go out and come back home. 

So instead of feeling like a burden to take my kids out and about, I asked God to help me to open my own eyes and hunt for these opportunities.   This opportunity comes and goes. There is no specific timetable that says, at 3:30 pm, we will have a life lesson.   But I realize the more I slow down, the more I can spot them and taught them with Sarah-Faith.

The best part is that I don’t need to spend money to go to some exhibition or trip.  It is found in the playground when a bully pushed Sarah-Faith because he wanted to use the slide. Or it is found when Sarah-Faith refused to share her toys. But more importantly, it is found when she is seeing what Wai Jia and I are doing through her little eyes. 

I am reminded of a scene in the book, To Kill a Mockingbird. The book is written through the perspective of a little girl named Jean “Scout” Finch, and her older brother, Jem. Their father, Atticus, was a lawyer who defended Tom Robinson, an African American slave. Tom Robinson was falsely accused of raping Mayella Ewell. The scene was after the trial when Mr. Ewell, Mayella’s father, came up to Atticus and spat in his face for willing to defend Tom. Mr. Ewell was instigating Atticus to fight him. 

What did Atticus do? Did he fight back? Did he get angry? Atticus simply wiped the spit off and walked away. 

How did this incident leave a mark in his children’s lives as they grow up? Had Atticus fought back, their children will learn in life that when someone hit you, you hit back. An eye for an eye. A dog eats dog world.

Atticus explained to his children the reason he didn’t fight back was that he was seeing from Mr. Ewell’s perspective.   Wow. Now his children learned empathy as well.

This same lesson can be taught in Sunday School. Better yet, Atticus could have sat his children down and explained the importance of loving your neighbors as yourself.  

Which is more effective? A lesson in school? Or a real-life situation? 

Of course, it was just a movie. But this can apply to us as well. See what happens when someone cut in your lane while driving? Or when you are lining up at the hawker center and someone when someone stole your spot (especially when you are starving)? 

How do I respond when someone wronged me? Do I retaliate? Or do I trust that vengeance belonged to God (Romans 12:19)?  How I respond, my children will quickly see whether I am walking in Christ, or I am a Pharisees, a hypocrite.

The other day, Sarah-Faith told me, “I do not like bully.” At two years old, she had enough experience of a bully taking her toys, screaming at her and pushing her away. I told her, “Papa doesn’t like bully, either. But remember, we are to be kind to bully as well. Remember, your memory verse, be kind to everyone. We are to be kind to bully too.”

To which, she replied, “Be kind to bully, too.”

I, too hope, that I can show her that I am kind to bully as well so she can learn that there is another way, God’s way, to live.

Surprisingly, I am thankful that my children take the time to learn. It helps me to slow down, too.  And I believe God is teaching me as I learn how to teach my children who He is.  

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By Cliff

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