Making Tough Choices

My husband and I have had to make many tough lifestyle changes lately to keep with our convictions. Some are tough because they push us out of our comfort zone. Some are tough because they are forcing us to let go of our worldly attitudes and mindsets. The toughest of all, for me, are those that effect our children.

Among the things we have been convicted about recently is the need to make the Lord the focal point of our household. That means not just talking to talk, but also walking the walk. Our children need to see us putting forth a Godly example. One thing that has been on the hearts of my husband and myself is the issue of Christmas, or more specifically, Santa.

Since my oldest was born I have always gone out of my way to make Christmas a big deal. (Probably to make up to her for the many Christmases I spent as a child feeling unloved and unwanted, but that’s a story for another day.) After 5 years, the result has been a rather spoiled child who only cares about getting “stuff” on Christmas, and couldn’t care less about the real meaning of Christmas.

My husband and I have spoken together at length about what to do here. While we want to shift her focus to what’s truly important on Christmas, we also don’t want to break her heart or permanently scar her. We have talked, prayed, talked some more and prayed some more. Finally, we made the decision that Santa will no longer exist in our household. I was worried about how my daughter would take the news, but in my heart I knew I was doing what was best.

This afternoon, as we sat around the table eating lunch, I let her know the truth about Santa. Much to my surprise, she was not the least bit bothered by it! Actually, she seemed to already know, though I’m not sure how! I explained to her that Mommy is always the one who bought the presents, and Daddy is the one who eats the cookies and drinks the milk that she leaves out. This prompted other questions from her, about the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy. I was honest with her about everything. She was so mature about it, and didn’t get upset once! She then asked what we would do for Christmas from now on, since there’s no real Santa. I told her that, since Christmas is really about the birth of Jesus, would bake a bake a birthday cake on Christmas Eve, and on Christmas day we would sing Happy Birthday to Jesus and have eat the cake. (She was very excited about that!) I also assured her that we would still exchange presents, but there would be far less, because getting presents is not what the special day is all about. She took it all amazingly well! I have been so worried and anxious about having this conversation with her, but she is just fine! I thank the Lord for that because, truly, I do not want to break her heart or sadden her in any way.

Now that the cat is out of the bag, I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I have never felt right about Santa Claus anyway, because when she would ask me direct questions I would have to tell her lies to keep the “fun” going. (I do not like having to lie to my children, even if it is all in good fun.) I also feel optimistic knowing that from here on out we can put the focus of Christmas right where is should be: on the birth of our wonderful Savior who died for us, so we might have a place in heaven with him.

Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure…

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Phil 4:8)

This verse has been on my mind a great deal lately. How much do I actually put this into practice in my life? I look at the TV shows we’ve watched. They aren’t bad, right? Like Law and Order: SVU, for instance. It’s all about catching the bad guys! Okay, sure, they throw out the occasional swear word, and there are sexual scenes, and we definitely have to make sure we pause it when the kids walk in the room, but overall it’s not bad, right?

Wrong.

This is a great example of the way our culture has been desensitized. The majority of the things shown in SVU are wrong, the problem is that it’s very easy to justify all the wrong by the one or two aspects of good. As Christians, we are instructed to use discernment and understand the difference between wrong and right, and stay away from that which is wrong.

This conviction has been growing on me for several months now. Why are my husband and I watching things in private that we would not allow our children to see? If our children shouldn’t be seeing it, it shouldn’t be in our house, because if it’s in our house, our children have access to it!

I remember back to when I was yong and being raised by my grandparents. My grandfather always had a large collection of Playboy magazines piled up next to his bed. I went into their bedroom one time and came across them. I couldn’t have been older then about 6 or 7 at the time. Being a curious child, I opened the magazines and looked through them. My eyes were opened to things that a child of such a young age should never see. Looking back I realize that my grandfather was able to justify having such things around children because they weren’t out in the open and we weren’t technically “allowed” in their room. As we all know, children don’t always follow rules that are given to them. As my childrens’ parents, it’s my husband’s and my responsibility to be their filter and protect them from things their young eyes should not be seeing. How good of a job are we doing at that when they have such easy access to things they shouldn’t see? All they need do is turn on the TV and start flipping through channels or pop in a DVD!

With all these things in mind, we have been making some tough choices recently. One of those decisions is purging our DVD and video game collection. We are saying goodbye to anything unwholesome. We are using our children as the standard; if they shouldn’t be seeing it, we need to get rid of it. The same will go for our book collection. (The hardest books for me to part with will be my Harry Potter collection.) The very hardest step of all will be getting rid of the cable TV. The decision to do it has already been made. We’re both in agreement that it needs to go, but actually calling it and cancelling it has proven harder than we thought. Our attachment to such a thing really frustrates me!

We have come such a long way in the past few months, but we still have such a long way to go. I wish it weren’t such a struggle!