A couple weeks ago we did one of the See for Yourself guides on “Dads Love.” The theme of the guide is that fathers are made in the likeness and image of God, that God pursues our hearts, and that we as fathers share in His fatherhood by pursuing the heart of God, the heart of our wife, and the hearts of our children.
So, my family and I watched these really cool videos on that theme, and then at the end there was a summary statement where I said “as a dad, I will pursue your heart and I will always seek what is best for you to lead you to heaven.” After that there was an activity: “go play hide and seek in the house with your kids.”
When I read that, my kids looked at me like “are we really gonna do this?”
At that moment six kids bolted out of the room and tore through the house screaming. My six-year-old was running around desperately trying to find a place to hide, not having much success. It was really cute.
I counted all the way down, and when I was done I walked out of the family room into the kitchen where there’s this small pantry closet. I didn’t think anyone but my tiny six-year-old could fit in there – if she moved a box of cereal out of the way she could probably squeeze in. So I walked up to the door, opened it slowly, looked down and could see that the cereal was unmoved so obviously she wasn’t there. What I didn’t expect was that my 6-foot-tall 19-year-old had plied himself up in the corner of the pantry. He yelled and I jumped backwards, scared to death.
He just started laughing. “Did I really startle you??” Yup. He did.
So then I headed down the hall a little bit further into the laundry room, where I thought maybe my six-year-old was hidden in the dryer. I began to open up the dryer door, but nobody was in there…and then there came a yell from behind me and I got startled again. Facing the dryer is a cabinet, and sitting on top of that cabinet was my 6-foot-2 17-year-old. He got me.
By this point my 19-year-old is rolling on the ground laughing that I’ve got startled twice during hide and go seek in the house.
I go upstairs looking for the other four kids, find my 10-year-old, and then come across my 13-year-old who was also in a closet, but graciously didn’t try to startle me. I then went into the master bathroom where we have this frosted glass shower door which was half open. There was a towel hanging in front of it, so I peeked into the shower, but nobody was in there. I thought I’d pop my head around the corner of the bathroom just to make sure nobody was there and…my 15-year-old daughter scared me.
So, for the third time now I’ve been startled by my children. My daughter is laughing at me – I didn’t know how she’d actually crouch down and fit in that corner, but somehow she did it.
Lastly, I found my six-year-old in my sons’ room. She was hidden under a clump of blankets, and quite frankly she’s so little and petite that I wouldn’t have noticed her there except that the sheets were shaking. It was adorable.
Why do I bring this up? Well first, that experience was really fun. Everybody was laughing and entertained. It’s also a great example of the three elements which make an experience memorable and impactful for ourselves and for our children: sensational, relational, and inspirational.
An experience needs to be fun and entertaining. It needs to engage all of our senses. We are physical creatures, and the experience needs to engage our physical bodies.
We need to be interacting with other people, especially the important people in our lives. Interactions with important people make something more impactful. Ultimately, heaven is eternal relationship – eternal communion and union with God – so the highest joy that we’re going to have in this lifetime and in the next is through union with God and union with others. If an experience is relational, especially with God and with our family members and the important people in our lives, it’s more memorable.
An experience needs to inspire Faith, to inspire awe, to inspire trust. It has to have a deeper meaning for it to be truly impactful. To go back to my example of playing hide and seek with my kids, the fact that we were talking about how God pursues us, and how I as a dad in the fatherhood of God am pursuing my kids’ hearts, brought new meaning to hide and seek. It made it even more clear to them that I am chasing after them: I love them and I am willing to do what it takes to find them.
The See for Yourself guides use those three principles, so check those out if you’re interested, but regardless, keep in mind the three elements that you need to bring together in order to make experiences powerful for you and for your children: sensational, relational, and inspirational.