My 10-year-old son does not like church. While my worship leader husband stands before the congregation singing and drawing hearts into focus, I stand by a boy who doesn't even move his lips.
In the past this frustrated me immensely. I wanted everyone to see my kids following the rules and singing with smiles on their faces. I wanted them to see that the Harms family had it all together. But, as I struggled through my frustrations, I became aware of the sinfulness in my attitude. Like the cup Jesus speaks of in Luke 11:39, I was trying to look squeaky clean on the outside. But by ignoring my son Owen's heart, I was unclean on the inside.
I've realized I cannot make my son love church any more than I can make him love mowing the lawn. And by pushing him to keep up appearances, I'm teaching him to be like the Pharisees. Instead of focusing on his heart and relationship with Jesus, I'm telling him the inside doesn't matter, but the outside does. That is the last thing I want to do as a parent.
Realizing we needed to change our game plan, my husband and I began talking about what is best for Owen's heart. Some of the changes we made as a result were misunderstood by some, and maybe even seen as "non-Christian" to others. It's true the outside of our cup was looking a little dirty, but we had changed our focus to the inside. We started making decisions based on Owen's needs, not on what was considered the norm.1