— Asia Clarke, CCC member
“You wanna know something? This thing is really loud.”
–Isaac Holbrook, 3, learning how to use a leaf-blower
There are lots of things that children can learn from their parents. I work with small children and their families as an in-home speech language pathologist, but I am not a mother myself. Sometimes, I think about what kind of mom I’ll be; what I’ll want to teach my children. In particular, I’ve thought about how I want my children to grow up seeing different women who are good at a variety of activities: kneading bread or clay, sewing clothes or sowing seeds, giving advice about cars or vitamin supplements, writing computer code or writing songs, using power tools (I’m looking at you, Ashley Yarnoff), unclogging drains, starting a fire.
A couple weeks ago, our community group spent one evening doing yard work together for a church member. Lisa and Landon Holbrook brought their two young children, Isaac and Natalie, to work alongside us: Isaac picked up yard debris (and used the leaf-blower for a few precious moments) while Natalie made sure I was hydrated, bringing my water bottle to me every five minutes or so. I was happy that Isaac and Natalie saw their mommy, Ms. Teresa, and me working just as hard as their daddy to pull, heave, rake, and mow together. I realized that my gut desire is for children to understand that women are strong and capable of so many different things.
But why do I desire that?
Is it to prove that women are just as good as men? Certainly we learn in Genesis that, though we are different, God created both of us in his image and values us equally. Is it to prove that women can be independent? Certainly we know that, in being united with Christ, we are also united as one body with our brothers and sisters in Christ. We are not created to be alone.
Hm. My “gut desire” was starting to feel like a desire to glorify women.
I began to think more critically about what God’s desire is for our children—and for all of us who are called his children. In Philippians 2, Paul reminds us to “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than [our]selves. Each of [us] should look not only to [our] own interests, but also to the interests of others” (v. 3-4). In light of this passage, I thought again about my desire to surround my children with diverse, capable women. While I certainly don’t think that desire is wrong, I think it is more important to consider the hearts rather than the abilities of these women. What’s the use of knowing how to make bread if no one is nourished by it? What’s the use of knowing how to use tools or start a fire if these skills aren’t used to build or mend or keep people warm?
In other words, we, as God’s children, are called to use our gifts and strengths to love our neighbor and to help those in need. Reflecting on our community group’s work day, I was encouraged to see evidence of God’s work in the children of our church: In Isaac, I saw a heart that desires to serve his neighbor by picking up debris. In Natalie, I saw a heart that cares for the needs of others by offering water when they’re thirsty. My hope is that God continues to teach our children—and, indeed, even us—what it looks like to use our diverse minds and bodies to love and serve others, rather than to glorify ourselves.