My little girl has always had a sweet tooth.
She used to bang her high chair tray for purified fruits and pucker her lips at everything else offered.
Her eyes light up at slices of cake and pink donuts and cheesecake. Cupcakes may be her love language. Don’t even get me started on how often she asks for candy.
She is a picky eater and dinner has always been a battle, but of course she’s always hungry for dessert. Maybe this sounds familiar.
We joke about her insatiable appetite for sugar and are constantly reminding her to fill up on good food first. The other day she had a light bulb moment, “Mom, when I eat something sweet, it tastes so good, but I’m usually still hungry afterwards.”
Her epiphany made me think about raising our kids in a culture on a constant quest for satisfaction.
I’ve watched my kids fill up on empty things—we all have: from social media cravings to the trendy, must-have fashion fads to the latest technology upgrades. And one thing is certain, even if or when they get what they want, there’s always something next or better tempting them around the corner.
In our culture, no matter how much we get, we always want more. Because we are really good at filling up our time and lives with things that do not satisfy.
That’s because these things—although not all bad—leave us feeling empty instead of full.
As a matter of fact, it’s reported that after reading other people’s statuses on Facebook, we’re more likely to feel down and depressed and generally worse about ourselves than when we clicked onto it. I know I’ve experienced this.
We are raising a tween and two teens in our house and I have watched them go from one thing to another in their quest to be satisfied. From sports to trying new instruments, to changing the way they look. I realize this is called growing up, but it’s been amazing watching my older two (especially in the last six months or so) discover deep, abiding satisfaction in their relationship with Christ.
They are learning truths that will carry them through whatever life brings their way: Filling their hearts and minds with the things of God will quench the hunger that the world cannot. Not only do they feel better, they are full.
We are given the example in Mark 10:17 of the rich young ruler. This was an influential man, maybe even a prince, who had everything money could buy. But when Jesus asked him to give up what he loved the most—his money and possessions—he walked away sad and empty because he just couldn’t give it up.
Because Jesus’ command revealed this ugly truth: The young man loved something of the world more than he loved Jesus.
Why would God ask him to give it all up? Or ask us to do the same? Because God wants us to give Him what we love the most. Because our love of (fill in the blank—it’s different for all of us) will keep us from God.
Here are three important truths we need to teach our kids about being satisfied:
1. We were created for the eternal. This life isn’t the end. All our striving and obtaining, and we all end up leaving this world with the same thing: nothing. We are eternal beings, created for eternity. So, the temporary things of this world—that feel good and are fun—are temporary. They will not last. Kids also don’t have the perspective of hindsight. Everything here and now feels like forever. They need us to gently remind them that this world will never quench the hunger we were born with.
2. We can’t both hold on and let go. When I read about the rich young ruler, it makes me sad. He was a good guy. He had done good things, but in the end he held on to things that didn’t matter. This Scripture goes on to say, “The young ruler was holding on tight to a lot of things, and he couldn’t bear to let go.” We have to teach our kids we can’t hold onto Jesus until we let go of this world.
3. We were made for more. As Christians, if our goal in life is happiness, we are missing the point of life. We aren’t here so we can have it all or do it all. And if that’s our aim, we will only live a dissatisfied life. We are here to glorify God with our lives. Like Jennie Allen says, “So if we know no place, no job, no marriage, no child is going to fulfill us perfectly, we can make the choice to quit fighting for happiness in all of it and start to fight for God’s glory in it.”
God wants to know that we love Him more than anything else. When we make that our goal in life, we find deep satisfaction.
We discover that it is possible to satisfy that craving for something that is real.
And it’s not only good, it’s sweet.
Copyright © 2016 by Kristen Welch, We are THAT Family. Used with permission.
Kristen Welch explains how she and her husband nipped their child’s entitlement mentality in the bud on FamilyLife Today®. Listen to Kristen talk about the seven reasons parents overindulge their children. And order Kristen’s book, Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World.