You think you know who you are. You think you know what you want. The only problem is that today’s thoughts are different from yesterday’s. And tomorrow’s may change yet again. So, do you really know who you are? Are you really self-aware?
The problem is we are too easily self-deceived. This is where self-awareness becomes an enigma. We think we know who we are, but we really don’t. Are we truly self-aware or are we self-deceived? How well do we know ourselves? How can we help our children gain self-awareness that is accurate?
As Calvin said our wisdom is composed of two parts, our knowledge of God and our knowledge of ourselves and where one begins and the other ends is often difficult to discern. For example, a young child may reason that a cookie will make her happy. The desire for the cookie overrides the command from mom not to eat the cookie till after supper. On the surface, this appears to be a simple matter of behavior. The desire for the cookie wins out over obedience.
However, on the heart-level, complex patterns are at work. We are born with a nature that is at war with God. Romans 1 tells us that this sinful nature actively suppresses the truth of God. The child is aware of what she wants. However, she is not comprehending that for her to be fully in connection with reality she must also be aware of God. Self-awareness is only part of embracing reality. She must also be God-aware.
In this light, simply addressing the behavior surrounding a misappropriated cookie misses the mark and plays right into the hands of the enemy. Thus, the reality of spiritual warfare is not acknowledged. The child may not fully grasp the complexities hidden in her desire for the cookie. But a close examination of Romans 1:18-21, shows that this is exactly what is transpiring at the heart level.
Part of helping your child to reach maturity is to help her be aware of this spiritual warfare. She is not just satisfying her desire for a tasty cookie. She is training her heart to dismiss and suppress the truth of God. This adds to a deepening distrust of being God-aware. She must become self-aware and God-aware in order to ultimately win this inner battle and to function well in God’s world.
It is not necessary to enter into a deep theological discussion with your children to begin addressing self-awareness. You can say something like this:
Heather, when you disobeyed mommy and ate that cookie, you were also disobeying God. Remember, we have talked about how sin always lies to you. It is never just about what you want. Wanting the cookie is also disobeying God. This is why you can never trust what you want unless you know it is also what God wants.
This is how Heather will begin to learn the value of God-awareness. Over time she will learn to be increasingly aware of the spiritual war within. She will have the awareness to trust the Spirit’s Word and be wary of the flesh. She will learn that true self-awareness is also God-awareness. And that will be a good thing.