My six-year-old fidgets with the tiny box, trying to get it open. He is not paying attention to a word I am saying. I take a deep breath and tell myself to be patient.
When I picked out the nativity scene, I envisioned it becoming a yearly tradition. Each piece of the set was stored in a gift box with an accompanying story. As you opened each character, the idea was to read a passage of the book and share the meaning of Christmas with your kids.
But with kids, things don’t ever go the picture perfect way we envisioned them, do they? There is no script.
My son asks me when he can open the next box. He is more concerned with opening the boxes than listening to the story of Jesus’ birth. I hear the pitter patter of my three-year-old’s feet as he comes in to watch the scene unfold for a few minutes, then leaves after he discovers he is not allowed to open all of the boxes yet either.
I skip over paragraphs in each section, trying to condense it into bite size portions that my oldest can digest. When I open the baby Jesus, his excitement grows. Perhaps he is retaining little pieces of this experience. One can hope, right?
Now, there are just a few boxes remaining. I wonder what lay in the seventh and final box, since it seems there are only a few characters left in the story. I ponder various possibilities as I explain the gifts of the magi and tell how far these men traveled just to see the promised Messiah.
When we open the last box, I smile as I see my son’s reflection gleaming in a tiny mirror. It’s meaning is simple yet profound. The mirror represents what God wants for Christmas.
I watch my son’s face as he studies the mirror and listens to my explanation. He is amused. I offer an invitation but I don’t push it. There is no script for giving your heart to Jesus.
In all my worrying about doing right my my kids and showing them God’s love, I’ve learned a few things along the way. When I earnestly seek God, I find him. Even if it takes some tears first.
Kids respond to God’s love on his timeline, not mine. And one of the greatest ways I can share his love is through my actions, not my words.
Because my actions fill in the spaces where my words are lacking.
The day following our nativity adventure, which I pinned as a complete failure, was a Sunday. We were playing and spending time together when all of a sudden Jaden goes,
“Daddy, God wants my heart for Christmas.”
My husband perked up and listened.
“That’s right buddy, he does.” He smiled.
“Yeah, and he’ll never leave me.”
And with that, Jaden continued soaring his toy airplane over his head through the living room, indicating he was done with the conversation. My hopes soared along with it, as God showed me with a few words that my efforts were not in vain.
If you’re trying to find ways to share Christ’s love with your kids this season, can I make a few suggestions?
- Be realistic. We are talking about kids here. There attention span is short. My experience showed me that I should have done one section of the story each night instead of the entire thing in one.
- Be enthusiastic. If you are not excited, you’re kids aren’t going to be either.
- Be flexible. One kid may have a meltdown or ask questions you had not anticipated. Remember, there is no script for this.
- Give yourself grace. This is not a competition or a race. Your kids will respond to the message of Christ when they are ready. Your job is to simply give them an open invitation.
And whatever you do this season, remember that the joy of Christmas is contagious. To your kids and to those around you. Christ came near to us so we could be free to embrace that joy.
Let’s let it shine bright for all to see.