Spiritual Formation: Beginning with Babies

The truth is, he was just a baby. He did not understand a single word I read. But I sat him on my lap anyway, his head on my chest, facing out. I opened up the simple book and held it for him to see. And then I began.

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth…”

His eyes were drawn to the colorful pictures. With a hand on the book and a hand on my son, I read. And truth be told, a lump formed in my throat and a tear slid down my face as the words, familiar and comforting, fell down upon my boy. Upon me. Again.

Create a sacred space

It may seem a most ordinary thing to share with your child this life-giving book. But try as I might, I could not set aside the feeling that this parental practice was actually something wholly divine. Sitting on the floor, mother and son, I was giving to him what had been given to me. I was offering my baby a chance to learn these words, to hear this story, to feel momma nearby and to learn that the God of all created this. Him and me and the world where we sit. God is in all of it.

Establish the routine

And maybe he did not understand. But I knew he would someday. I knew that if we sat here again tomorrow and next week and for many months and years to come, he would learn these words and hear them and that they would take root in his tiny, newborn soul. Yes, he was a baby, but a baby he would not stay. And so we read.

Pray they grow into faith

And now, he is tall and lanky and all the more loved by his momma. Sometimes I find him lost in thought or reading for himself the very same words I read so long ago. And I don’t say a word; I just pray. I pray that the Word will not go back empty and that what he is reading God is using for good. I pray that the passage before him will stack upon the last one he read and the one I read as he sat on my lap. I pray that all of it will come together into a picture of faith that leads my boy closer, every single day, to the one who loves him best. I pray.

Start today

Maybe it all was silly, to share such a story with a very tiny son. Or maybe it was a beginning. A place to start our walk together until the path divides and he walks on alone. Because that day will come, and I will be left feeling that I have either spent my time or wasted it. I want the latter to be true. Let today be the start of a routine of faith in the life of your family. Forgive the regrets of yesterday and invest in building faith today.

And if I had to choose all over again, I would put that baby in my lap in the quiet minutes in my day. I would reach again for that same book and begin at the beginning of the story, of his life, of ours together. And with tears and lump and I would read the truth and trust that God will nurture those words in the life of my boy.

About the author — Nadia Swearingen-Friesen

Nadia Swearingen-Friesen is a writer and national speaker with a passion for empowering parents to approach their families with great intentionality and grace.  Nadia and her husband, Mark, are the parents of four children and live in the Chicago area. Nadia also blogs at http://nadiaswearingen-friesen.com/

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