A few weeks ago, I had one of the sweetest parenting moments I’ve had so far. I was driving and the song “10,000 Reasons” came on the radio. From the backseat I heard:
“Bess Lor, my soul. Oh, my soul. Wor-ip hooooo name.”
It was Zoe, singing a song she’s heard probably hundreds of times in the background.
“Bless the Lord, oh my soul. Oh, my soul. Worship His holy name.”
It’s not a song I’ve ever sung to her with hand motions or an agenda to teach it to her. It’s just a song I sing to God myself in those quiet moments when Zoe doesn’t need my full attention—when she’s busy or otherwise occupied and it feels like just me and God.
She learned it anyway.
“I love your singing, baby,” I said to her, wiping away a tear. “It’s beautiful.”
Then to God I said, “Wow.”
I think a lot about how to raise Zoe. I want her to know God’s love and to desire a relationship with Him. I pray for it, I read about how to foster it, I think about it, I talk about it. I want to be intentional about the right things.
But I’m realizing that a lot of her early thoughts about God and faith will not come from my carefully constructed lesson plans or mission statements…but from the background of my own life.
I can tell her “God loves you,” and that’s good—but if I rest in God’s love myself, letting His love define me instead of relying on my actions or accomplishments, loving others from the overflow of His love to me—that will speak even louder.
I can read her books about patience and putting others first, but being patient myself and letting her see me put others first will be a better lesson.
I can tell her to be thankful to God for everything. But when she overhears me singing “for all your goodness, I will keep on singing” over and over again in a season of loss? That speaks much louder than my words.
I’ve worried about what to teach. But really, it’s about how I live, and what God does through that.
It doesn’t mean I shouldn’t think about faith and how to teach it. But it means that mostly, I should just work on living it authentically myself.
I’ve pondered all of this the last few weeks. And as I stood in my best friend’s church last Sunday, in the hometown that doesn’t always feel like home, the familiar chords began and my heart relaxed into what I can best describe as openness. And the last verse, which has always seemed a little morbid to me, hit me fresh and new and tied all this together.
“And on that day when my strength is failing
The end draws near and my time has come
Still my soul will sing Your praise unending
Ten thousand years and then forevermore.”
I will not be around forever. I will die. But at some point, when I’m no longer here, I hope my daughter will still be singing to the Lord she loves.
This is my prayer. Not that she never doubts; no that she has a faith just like mine; not that she goes to church every week; not that she can regurgitate creeds or impress everyone with her Bible knowledge. My hope is that she has found something authentic and real in my faith, in her father’s faith, in her grandparents’ and great-grandparents’ faith—that all that she has seen in the background has developed the foreground of her own life.
And so, as the song says:
“Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes.”
I will keep singing.