“Let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” 1 John 3:18 NIV
Everyone needs to have an aquarium at least once in their child-rearing lifetime. In the early 80’s, Grant brought home a 20-gallon tank stocked with a half-dozen goldfish, and our short lives as fish caretakers began. We went through the usual life and death experiences you would expect, from the excitement of watching fish eggs hatch into fish “babies”, to the disappointment of finding one of our pets floating lifelessly on top of the water. We named the fish, celebrated their birthdays and had funerals for them when they died. The aquarium provided us with many teachable moments about the miracle and delicacy of life.
One day, my 3-year-old decided playing with our fish would be much more fun than watching them…so he went fishing…without permission. When I “caught” him, he’d already pulled every fish out of the aquarium and was cheering them on as they flopped helplessly back and forth on the cabinet. I still remember how hard it was, getting those slimy, squirmy and probably frightened fish back in the tank. To my surprise, they survived their near-death experience and we all had a good laugh.
I’ve often thought about Drew pulling those fish out so he could play with them. Watching them and having them watch him wasn’t enough. He wanted to touch them, to be with them…to have a real relationship with them. In his innocent effort to be their friend, he simply reached across the barriers of a glass wall and made it happen.
As parents, we must reach across the barriers of life’s busyness to have relationship with our children. Watching isn’t enough. The true measure of our love will not be measured by the words we speak to them, but by the time we take being with them.
Schedule regular family times where your children know they have your undivided attention. Talk, listen, laugh, play, hug and get to know one another. The younger they are when you start, the easier it is to keep the lines of communication open as they grow.
Prayer: Father, I get so overwhelmed with my responsibilities and find myself taking the people I love for granted. Help me redeem the time and be the parent You want me to be. Order my steps each day and give me wisdom to put the right things first. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.