As the eldest of three girls, one of the most common things said to me was, “Set a good example for your baby sisters. They look up to you.”
Talk about pressure! But the truth was they were looking at me. From following me around the house to unsolicited twin outfits - they were there.
Now, many years later, I’m watching my son copy my daughter, and my daughter copy me.
As I was drawing in my prayer journal, I noticed my daughter grabbing her markers and starting her own. It was a beautiful expression of “children learn what they live.”
But before you give me props or any form of kudos, you should know that I too am a sinner in daily need of a savior. Emphasis on the word daily.
A few months ago, my daughter asked if her tummy was fat. She’s barely turning eight! I prayed for the Lord to show me the root of this question, and to give me wisdom for guiding her young mind’s understanding on body image.
As I prayed, the Lord revealed to me a very vulnerable memory that took place not too long after her brother was born. I was trying on clothes for the first time, when I broke down in front of the mirror because I felt disappointed with how the clothes fit me.
“What’s wrong?” My daughter so innocently prodded.
“I’m sorry, darling. I just don’t like the way my body looks right now,” I answered.
“But Mommy, you look beautiful.”
Her affections left a mark on me. And apparently, my insecurities left a mark on her. Enter, conviction.
Instead of acknowledging what my body just did in delivering a very healthy baby after 24 hours of labor, I shamed it in front of my little girl. And while I could chalk it up to hormones, it was permission for her to pick on her own body. “Children learn what they live.”
We get to set the tone. No matter where we are or who we’re with, we’re impacting someone. You know it’s true when you feel elated after a compliment, or crappy after the barista snapped at you and spelled your name wrong. (It happens!)
Yet the Lord took on flesh so He can be the one to rub off on us. So we can have a real example to follow, to imitate, to replicate, and to show us what’s possible.
“What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:9
It’s our inheritance and our responsibility as His image-bearers to mirror God’s heart and all the wonderful things He is. And when we do, then they’ll know we are His children (John 13:35). And our Holy family will grow and include our children, our friends, and neighbors.
It’s never just about us. Every day we’re alive, we’re changing the world with our choices - our thoughts, words, actions.
To quote one of my favorite songs from Switchfoot, “The World You Want”:
“You change the world
You change my world
You start to look like what you believe
You float through time like a stream
If the waters of time are made up by you and I
If you change the world for you, you change it for me.”
So if they’re going to copy us, let’s give them something good to copy. Let’s show them Holy. Let’s show them Jesus.