Editor’s note: Welcome to our new web column, “Faith & family: Growing together,” which complements our “Faith & family” department. Join Kimberly Knowle-Zeller each month as she explores different stages of faithful parenting.

Focal verse

“In our prayers for you we always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints” (Colossians 1:3-4).

Reflection

Barreling down the hall with a smile, my two-year-old son, Isaac, reaches his sister, Charlotte, and asks, “Play hide and seek?”

“Yes!” she cheers back. “Okay, let’s go.” Putting her hands to her eyes, she starts counting, “One, two, three … ”

With a laugh Isaac takes a few steps in front of his sister, plops on the floor and covers his own eyes, believing his sister can’t see him.

“… Four, five, six, ready or not, here I come!” Charlotte opens her eyes, ready to find Isaac. As she gets closer, he uncovers his eyes and jumps up.

Both squeal in delight: “I found you!”

“Play hide and seek again?” Isaac asks once more. For the next few minutes I hear feet running up and down the hall.

While I watch my children, I wonder how many times I’ve felt hidden from God. How many times have my doubts, frustrations, impatience or anger obscured God’s love? Becoming a parent showed me how little patience I have, how deep my fears and doubts run and how pervasive comparison to other mothers infiltrates my soul. Some days—between driving to and from school, googling my kids’ latest symptoms and feeling that I’ve fallen short in every aspect of life—I wonder if God sees me.

As my children grow up, I know they’ll also experience feeling lost from God. Maybe they’ll feel insecure about their body and wonder how God could love them, or a friend’s comment will spiral them into self-doubt. Bullies, 24/7 access to social media and pressures to achieve may persuade them that God isn’t concerned with their lives. I trust they will always know and love God, but reality tells me they’ll wonder if God sees them, too.

Watching my children, each taking their turn to hide and finding a spot in the direct line of the other’s sight, I see their desire to find and be found, and I’m compelled to tell them of God’s relentless desire to find them. Perhaps in telling them, I’ll know it for myself, too.

For in God, we are always found.

Practices

This month play hide-and-seek with your children. Don’t just watch them, join in! Count together. Cover your eyes and yell, “Ready or not, here I come!” Search the house, sprint through the hallway and peek into closets. When you find your children, whether right in front of you, crouched down with hands over their face, or curled up under a table, tell them that God always finds them. There’s nothing they can do or say that will keep God away. Then tell yourself the same good news.

With older children, find some time for a one-on-one conversation. Turn off all technology, give them your full attention and ask for theirs. Go for a walk. Share a meal together. Ask questions and listen. Remind them that they are seen and loved.

Prayers

We pray for those who feel lost,
for people who lack adequate food or shelter,
for children who feel lonely at school.
We pray that they encounter safe spaces at school, home and church,
where we pray they hear words of affirmation and love.
We give thanks for the gift of play.
We give thanks for friends who share their time with us.
We give thanks for the advice and wisdom shared between generations.
Amen.

Service opportunity

Locate your local nursing home or senior center. For younger children, call and ask if you can donate your child’s artwork to brighten a few residents’ rooms. For older children, call and ask if you can come and visit with residents. Bring a board game to share with them or simply go to listen and have conversation.

Kimberly Knowle-Zeller
Kimberly Knowle-Zeller is an ordained ELCA pastor, mother of two and spouse of an ELCA pastor. She lives with her family in Cole Camp, Mo. Her website is kimberlyknowlezeller.com.

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