"Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." Deuteronomy 11:18-19 (NIV)
While driving my kids to school one morning, I asked what their favorite Miles' Family Christmas traditions were. My daughters answered in unison, "We don't have any traditions."
I was shocked and a little annoyed as I replied, "You mean all these years I have been trying to make memories for you, and you honestly think we don't have any special traditions?!" My holiday spirit diminished as my blood pressure rose.
They meekly asked me to remind them about these traditions. I provided them with an exhaustive list of family holiday activities and events that we've participated in every year since their births.
When I stopped to take a breath, one said, "Oh, I just thought those were things we do every year. I didn't know they were traditions."
I was relieved all my Christmas efforts had been noticed. And smiled realizing the problem was a simple lack of understanding the word "tradition."
The conversation wouldn't leave my thoughts, so when I got home, I read the definition of "tradition." The first definition was, "the handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs, information, etc., from generation to generation, especially by word of mouth or by practice." The second definition read, "a long-established or inherited way of thinking or acting and a continuing pattern of culture, beliefs or practices."
Through the misunderstanding with my children, God showed me annual activities and events aren't the only things we should pass down to our kids. Rather I should be concerned about spiritual traditions - the passing down of faith - as even more important.
I had been fretting over my children remembering that we drank hot chocolate while putting up our Christmas tree one month out of the year, when I should have been focusing on the spiritual traditions throughout the entire year.
With a bit more research, I realized God gave us guidance on how to do this in Deuteronomy 11:18-19. He was talking to the Israelites in this passage, but the wisdom applies today:
"Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." (NIV)
This verse changed my thinking about traditions. Now my New Year's resolution each year is to focus on the spiritual traditions I can pass down throughout the entire year in the Miles' home. Traditions that will matter long term and make a difference in the hearts of others.
Deuteronomy 11 guides me in making these resolutions. They include reading the Bible with my kids and applying it to everyday life. Also important are talking to them about God and praying with them, memorizing verses together, and understanding Scripture so that all we do reflects the love of Christ.
I don't want these spiritual traditions to be passed down simply by word of mouth, but by practice. As a parent, I have to live out these traditions in my own life to lead my kids to pick them up. The tradition of reading, living out, and loving God's Word is a tradition worth passing down.
Dear Lord, forgive me for losing sight at times of what is really important. Help me see ways I can build spiritual traditions in my home that will impact hearts and lives for generations to come. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Reflect and Respond:
Consider what traditions you focus on in your home. Are they all attached to a holiday, or are there spiritual traditions that create a bond to Jesus year-round? Ask God to show you what new traditions you can begin in your family to help them learn God's Word.
If your children were asked what your spiritual traditions were, what would they say?
Proverbs 22:6, "Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it." (ESV)
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Proverbs 31 Ministries
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Matthews, NC 28105