A few years back, my husband and I took our daughter to a friend’s neighborhood for trick or treating.  We all went out together using the wagon to haul the kids from house to house. As we walked and talked, we sipped margaritas from the red cups our friends had handed us on the way out the door.

Did we get sloshed? No. It was simply a casual drink while enjoying time with friends.  Not really the end of the world or an event to get our knickers all in a wad about.  But the truth is, my husband and I would never have considered drinking during trick or treating had it just been the two of us taking our daughter out. Now I love my work, it doesn’t feel like work at all, but at this private party, something inside of me told me this way leading to the wrong lifestyle.

 

We accepted the red cups because we silently justified it as harmless and we wanted to continue to be loved and considered “fun to hang with” by our friends.  Even if that meant crossing the line of our own family values.

It’s often so easy to fall into the trap of living the lifestyle acceptable to society.  Even if it’s wrong.  We so readily justify our way through poor choices because it’s more convenient, more fun, and more supported to “live it up!” Where then do we draw the line between right and wrong?  When our children are watching our lifestyle choices, what is their takeaway from it?  How are we shaping their future?

Lifestyle choices come in all varieties…

Enjoying meals gathered around the table as a family…or sitting in front of the television to eat.

Praying together with your spouse and children…or not praying at all.

Treating each other with words of love and respect…or speaking with a harsh, mean spirit.

Taming our tongues…or gossiping about our neighbors. It’s all about personal development and education.

Giving our time and service to others…or staying home watching TV all weekend.

Living a life of faith, trusting God with the details…or living in constant worry and stress…and finding the balance.

Being content with our abundant blessings…or having a jealous attitude over what others have.

Putting God at the center of our lives…or creating idols out of our own selfish desires.

Attending weekly worship services…or only visiting a church on Easter and Christmas.

Being wise stewards of our money…or spending it as if we have money trees growing in our backyard.

Providing loving discipline and boundaries for our children…or allowing them to behave wildly.

Remaining faithful to our spouse…or falling into the temptation to stray.

 

We make lifestyle choices every day, even in the mundane.  The freedom of choice which God has graciously given us is all too often used recklessly and with our human ignorance declaring “I know best!” Sorry if this is upsetting to you, but we don’t know what’s best. God does!

We are called to train our children in the way of the Lord, yet we forget that part of the training they get is simply from watching every move we make.  Even when we don’t realize it or our behavior seems innocent enough, our children are watching.  We are their role models.  We may not notice it, but in the imaginations of our children, they are pretending to be just like us.  Down to the very last detail, just get into your relation’s heads.

When I was very young, my mom smoked cigarettes.  When I played, I would pretend to do the same thing.   When I got a little older {2nd or 3rd grade}, I got in trouble for stealing a pack of cigarettes from her and sharing them with my friend after school one day.   I just wanted to do what my mom was doing.  It was purely innocent from my childlike eyes.

Other times mom would get angry at me and my older brothers for different things we’d do and with hands on her hips, a certain look on her face, and a stern voice, she would shout “I’ve had enough of this!”  Later, when my brothers would pick on me, I’d throw my hands on my hips, my mother’s look across my face, and in a similar stern voice tell them I’d had enough.  {They laughed and picked on me even more!}

As Christian’s {and parents} we need to be aware that our actions today immediately begin to shape our tomorrow’s, not just for us individually, but for those we love as well, including our children.

We already are accepted by the One who created us, with wonderful promises for living the life He has chosen for us.  No amount of perceived approval from society will ever compare to what the God of our universe has in store for His faithful followers. God’s way is always the better choice.