When Our Kids Fall Down

by Kirsten Poggenklass

“…Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”  John 15:12-13

I spent Sunday morning watching two girls giggle.  Not just once, but over and over again.  It was a comical scenario that brought even its viewers joy.

My pre-teen daughter and I were serving in the nursery.  As she began to play with a little toddler girl, it soon turned into a game.  My daughter would sit on the floor and the toddler would come up and gently push on her shoulder.  “Oh no…. fall down,” my daughter would say in a funny voice and tip over.  The toddler would start to giggle.  Then, she would lay down too and say “I fall down too”… They would help each other up and do it again.

What an endearing and sweet picture this was of two goofy girls laughing and enjoying time together.  One big, one small.  Sharing a special moment and building a friendship.

Watching this made me think about times when my kids have ‘fallen down.’  When they’ve been hurt, made a bad choice or are struggling with friends. Maybe even times when I have been the one to ‘push them over.’  When I see them laying on the floor, is it my first instinct to lay down with them – to get down to their level, view the world from their eyes and then help them back up?

I’m convicted by Jesus’s words in John 15, urging us to “love each other as [He] loves us.”  As a loving father, God has met me in the trenches…has gotten down on the floor to help me up.  Often for the same ‘falls’ over and over again. His unconditional love is unfailing and unmatched.  And yet, as a parent sometimes I struggle with taking the time or having the patience to do this with my kids.  Even though God is patient with my perpetual sin, I expect them to learn from their mistakes the first time and never repeat that same sin. Does this ever happen to you?

When John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” maybe it means ‘laying down’ – sacrificing our time, energy, money – to meet our kids where their at in their trial so we can see it through their eyes and be the first one to offer a hand to help them up.  No matter the cost.  No matter how many times we’ve been through this trial before.

When I saw that little toddler after church, I asked her who had played with her that morning.  She grinned with a gleam in her eye, and in her 2 year old little voice she giggled as she said “Fall down!”  She couldn’t remember my daughter’s name, but the way they spent their time together is etched in her memory.

This week, I encourage you to ‘lay down your life’ for your kids in ways you maybe haven’t before.  Enter into their struggles, not to control or to tell them how to fix it, but just to lay there on the floor and walk through the experience with them. You might even find time to giggle.

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