In these years of me being a mom, I cannot help but reflect on how my parents raised me. I don’t think that I understood their process back then. Sometimes it got on my nerves. My brother and I many times would sit in our rooms fussing about how “too much” they were. It seemed like they would not let us do anything. We could not go to public schools, we could not listen to secular music…I remember one time we wanted to join this modeling agency. The lady was Christian for goodness sakes! But all my mom said, “Was I just don’t feel right in my spirit about this.” I remember us getting so mad!
The one thing I realize now is that even though my brother and I were in the world, my parents made a commitment that they would never purposely expose the world to us. They never played secular music, never took us to movies that offended the Lord, never placed us in anything but a Christian school. There were times where my mom would come home from church hurt, because of the countless times women in the church would question her philosophy when she went to the women’s bathroom. They would say, “It doesn’t take all that. I want my kids to grow up in the real world.” She doubted herself, I know, but then that doubt would soon be replaced with a strong conviction that she must follow what Deuteronomy 6:7-9 commands:
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. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
My mom and dad felt that if they were to follow this command, how was there time for anything else? So, I am trying to do the same thing. Funny, how much it got on my nerves growing up, but I saw something happen with my brother and I as we were raised in a totally Christian environment. We developed a spiritual strength that was able to stand when we became teens. We had this deep seeded fear of God. He was a real being to us. We feared Him enough to just not go too far off when they were not looking. We were not perfect children, but we just did not veer too far off. We actually did not really fear our parents as much as we feared God. In them only giving us Jesus, we had scriptures in our hearts, and an understanding that his commands were for our protection.
The other thing my parents did, is that they had a dialogue with us about our faith and how it should play out in every area of our lives. They did not just give us rules, but they explained everything, showing how the Christian life should happen without compromise. I remember the time my brother wanted to start listening to secular music. My dad asked my brother to play some of the music for him. One of the songs was about some girl’s butt. So my dad listened to the music and then asked my brother, “So, son do you have a relationship with Christ? If so, how do you think God feels about hearing that son, because you know he’s with you when you listen to it.” Even though he was talking to my brother, that conversation affected me greatly. “God is with me even when I am listening to music?” But they did not stop there. At this point they started supporting Christian hip hop and any music that had a rhythm/beat to it, that allowed us to enjoy dancing around and getting hype with our friends, but what was being pumped into our hearts and minds was THE WORD…even as we were having fun. They did not deprive us and just leave us hanging, but they showed us that you can have fun in Christ, even as a young person. Eventually, my brother and I both grew up to lead music workshops so that parents could know why today’s music is not healthy for Christian youth.
They were relentless. They never let anything slide when it came to our relationship with Christ. I know now that it was not easy. As they saw us wrestle with this. As people spoke negatively to them and about them for taking this stance, they often found themselves alone, but they never gave up. They were committed to only giving us Jesus.
As I seek to emulate this process with my own 3 kids, I do see the fruit of it already. They have an understanding of Biblical concepts that goes beyond their years. They are learning to manage their behavior when only God is looking. I once heard my son tell another child, “We should never lie. Even if you are just playing you should never lie.” They are not perfect kids, but they have the growing fear of God that is starting to affect the decisions they make in their life.
I get it now. I understand why I would not allow myself to get into deep relationships with guys who were not saved. When I was still in lower elementary school, and started to have crushes on little boys, instead of my mom shutting this natural desire down, she would let me talk about the boy and why he was so cute, etc. and then she would ask me, “Is he saved? You need to find out of he’s saved, because you know the Word says ‘Don’t be unequally yoked with unbelievers.'” As a young girl this scripture was so engraved in my mind, when I became a teen and even a single woman, the first thing I wanted to do was find out if a guy was saved or not. This served me well, when I went to a secular college and my first real temptation with this came to me my freshman year. I fell hard for a guy that was not saved, and it came down to choosing him or HIM. I chose HIM…I chose My Lord, because of the love for Him that my parents cultivated in me from the time I was very young.
My parents were amazing. They worked hard. They were ostracized because people did not understand their stance, but they remained relentless in making sure the devil had absolutely no access to us, if they could help it. They constantly showed us Jesus, the Word and how we could see it in every day life. I remember when I would help my mom in her garden and I would help her pick off the dead blooms/leaves. She would say to me, “Nika, these dead leaves and blooms are like sin. You have to pick it off daily if you are going to grow in Christ.” I was so young, and yet that taught me to keep short accounts with God through reading His Word. Even down to the music they played. Every song, every tv show, movie, everything they could control fed us the Word or Biblical principles. They spent so much time building and feeding our spiritual man, that in those times where we were alone in the world, the faith my brother and I had kept us from making bad decisions and also fused us to the heart of God.