Taking The Shield of Faith

 feature image by Pawel Czerwinski

feature image by Pawel Czerwinski

“Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.”

Ephesians 6:16

We start each day in high gear, and for the first 30 minutes it’s rallying our school-aged troops out of bed and into what seems like a conveyer belt of preparations—teeth brushed, clothes on, eating breakfast (I even comb their hair while they eat their cereal), shoes tied, lunchboxes packed, backpacks on, helmets fastened, and then we’re out the door on scooters, in strollers, and on foot—our little brigade, rushing to make that first bell. Just typing it out makes me dizzy.

And then they’re gone.

I take my first breath of the day.

And as I walk back home, (much slower now) I ask myself, “Did we sufficiently prepare? Do they know they’re loved? Do they have courage to make hard choices?  Do they know they’re never alone?” Yes, we remembered that form that needed to be signed, and their library books, but did I truly prepare them in the way they need?

 images by Aimee Error

images by Aimee Error

Paul reminds us that to withstand the evil of our day—all of the fiery darts of the adversary—we must be fitted with spiritual armor, and equipped with sword and shield. We could wax long on the details and symbolism of each piece of armor, but let’s focus on one today. That first line of defense—the Shield of Faith.

In medieval times, knights dressed in full armor were often only identified by a coat of arms on their shield—a visual depiction of their origin and family. I love the connection between family and this great source of protection! Can you imagine yourself a blacksmith, forging the steel, bending, hammering, and fitting an impenetrable shield for those we love?  Boyd K. Packer said, “[The] shield of faith is not produced in a factory but at home . . . it is to be made and fitted in the family. Fit each child individually with a shield of faith made to buckle on so firmly that it can neither be pulled off nor penetrated by those fiery darts.”

Consider the many ways you prepare your children for their day—as you picture yourself helping them slip on their backpack and hand them their lunch box, can you imagine fastening on a custom fitted, personalized shield of protection? What steps must we take to construct the ultimate Shield of Faith for our children?

Each shield will be unique and the layers of faith will be added upon differently, but here are four ways to consider:

 images by Aimee Error

images by Aimee Error

1.    Develop habits of prayer. Nothing unifies us as family members and with God more than joining our voices together in prayer. What greater way to invoke protection, and invite a spirit of peace throughout the day than to pray before leaving the refuge of our homes. If you struggle to remember or it’s difficult to find a moment in the morning craze, consider setting a separate alarm, or designating a set time. For example, you could say, “every morning at 6:30 am is prayer time.” If an occasional variation in your family’s schedule occurs and not every member is present, that’s okay--each could individually offer up a prayer wherever they are. There is power in numbers, in family, and especially in prayer.

2.    Give place for the word of God, found in the scriptures. Russell M. Nelson said, “Not only are parents to cling to the word of the Lord, but they have a divine mandate to teach it to their children.” Have you ever left a love note to your kids in their lunch box? I’ve left a note in there reminding them to wash their hands before eating! (Is that embarrassing to admit?) Imagine if there was a way to send them a loving message from their Heavenly Father each day. How much more valuable would that message be to them than to wash their hands! Maybe a morning scripture study isn’t practical for your family’s stage and circumstance, but surely there is some way to plant the seed in their heart each day. You might consider choosing a family scripture, or a verse for the year as a theme and motto. You could memorize that scripture and repeat it each morning, or display it somewhere the kids will see each morning as they leave. Many have found success listening to the scriptures over breakfast or in the car ride to school.  And when your kids are doing backflips over the couch as you read to them and you’re wondering why you even bother, take heart in this great point from Helaman: “And they did remember his words; and therefore they went forth, keeping the commandments of God . . .” (Helaman 5:14).

 images by Aimee Error

images by Aimee Error

3.    Just Serve. If we want to develop faith in the Master, we emulate his ways. “For how knoweth a man the master whom he has not served, and who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart?” (Mosiah 5:13). When we invite our children to serve one another we are adding another layer of faith to their shield.  No one is too young to develop the habit of service! A simple tradition we adopted from a friend is to share “a sweet, a sour, and a service” from our day around the dinner table each night. This is a simple way to get everyone thinking about what they did for another person that day, and hopefully inspire continued acts of kindness.

4.    In all things, give thanks. I believe that half the battle of developing a greater faith in our Savior, Jesus Christ is simply remembering to acknowledge Him. Do we regularly give thanks to our Father and recognize His hand in our lives? Many years ago, before I had children, I was given the advice to point out the beautiful sunsets and other marvelous creations of the Lord to my children. Now my children are the ones who point them out to me. Gratitude changes everything! Give your children an opportunity to recognize the good that came from their day. And let’s seize that opportunity to teach them that all that good is from a loving Heavenly Father.

Faith is a process. It is a gift that can only be given by the Spirit. Yet I believe we can train our children in righteous ways, and help them develop a confidence that will see them through any trial. May we add to their shield layer by layer, and may they be brave warriors--equipped with lovingly packed lunches, and an impenetrable faith.


 Ideas for Teaching These Principles:

1.    As a family, pray and make a list of action items you can do to develop faith.

 images by Aimee Error

images by Aimee Error

2.    Create a shield out of cardboard and paint your own coat of arms. You may include symbols that represent the goals you have such as the ones we mentioned: prayer, scripture study, service, and gratitude.

3.    Brainstorm a list of the “Fiery darts” your family may face in their day-to-day life. Write each one a separate piece of paper and crumple it into a ball. Take turns firing these at someone who is can defend themselves with the shield.

4.    Rather than constructing a shield of cardboard, you could search the internet for the blank outline of a shield and print out a copy. With your family, write down the ideas you have for developing greater faith inside the shield.

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AIMEE ERROR

Aimee regularly contributes to our Living Your Faith column. Her best ideas for meaningful and fun activities for families usually come to her while folding laundry, packing lunches, or picking up toys. She believes love for God grows at home. Find Aimee on Instagram @aimeeerror.