This year, I will be volunteering (and attending) my first ever Vacation Bible School. Yes, you heard that right—my first ever. At nearly 34 years old, I get to experience what is a seemingly normal part of summer for thousands of children. I am eager to see hundreds of faces soaking in who Jesus is—many for the very first time! I am praying for the parents and volunteers to experience radical joy while watching these children embrace stories, songs, and, ultimately, the Savior Himself. My hope is that none of us would lose our focus, but would keep our eyes fixed on the ultimate Prize: to know Jesus and make Him known.
Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God is calling us up to heaven because of what Christ Jesus did for us. (Phillippians 3:13-14)
Childhood. So simple. So complex. So permanently branded on the soul. While much of my growing up was out of the norm, there were many things that were fairly traditional; there were ballet, tap, and jazz lessons with more neon-colored costumes and pink leotards than one can fathom. I remember the old auditorium where little girls dazzled our parents who watched us from metal folding chairs. At the time, I was incredibly shy and hopelessly intimidated at the thought of sharing what we learned in class. Oh, how my heart still clenches at the thought of parents taking note of my “mistakes” on stage. Was their criticism all in my head? Now that I’m an adult myself, I’m fairly certain it wasn’t all in my head. At VBS and in all activities, please do not be the parent who compares, wanting your child to look and act just like every other child. Let your children move to the beat of their own drum and applaud them as they do.
I believe the fear of what others think hinders children and parents alike. To this day, you will never find me in Jazzercise, Zumba, or any other situation that involves a group of people trying to do a coordinated routine. No doubt I look more like a bumbling bee than a delicate butterfly. But I will be volunteering during music time at VBS and helping kids with their dances anyway. (Disclaimer: If you have a first grader coming to VBS and their dances look a bit different from everyone else’s on the final day—you now know who is responsible.) I have come so far from that paralyzed feeling I had as a child; Christ has freed me from the fear of what others think of me. I want every parent to feel this freedom and to remember that it isn’t about how you perform. It is about Jesus and, oh, how He wants to use you—no matter what your routine looks like!
Yes, the body has many parts, not just one part. If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. And what would you think if you heard an ear say, “I am not part of the body because I am only an ear and not an eye”? Would that make it any less a part of the body? Suppose the whole body were an eye—then how would you hear? Or if your whole body were just one big ear, how could you smell anything? But that isn’t the way God has made us. He has made many parts for our bodies and has put each part just where he wants it. What a strange thing a body would be if it had only one part! (1 Corinthians 12:14-19)
So, parents, what’s your hang up? Are you struggling with perfectionism for yourself or your children? I want to challenge you to stop comparing yourself to others. And for the love of your children and more importantly, for the love of our beautiful Savior, whom you desire them to love, stop comparing your children to others. Please encourage them to be all He has created them to be. Don’t put so much red tape around them that they become adults who are stifled and still don’t move freely in Christ. When the opportunity presents itself, get involved and show them what it looks like not to simply talk the talk but to walk the walk. The church needs more people who are happy to bumble like a bee.
For His Glory,
Gabbie Nolen-Fratantoni loves Jesus and is passionate about serving him through the arts by leading worship and writing for various ministries. She is married to Greg, her hard-working, iron-sharpening-iron spouse. They are opposite in personality but equal in dedication to their marriage and family. Gabbie and Greg are the proud and sleep-deprived parents of two active, sweet, and fun boys and recently welcomed the arrival of their first little girl. An Aggie and graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary, Gabbie is a small-town country girl trapped in the city and loves getting to know people and encouraging them as they seek to know Jesus and make him known.
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