Loving your children
When I sit still in God’s presence and become quiet with my frustrations in parenting, I ask the Lord for guidance with my children. I am always expecting him to talk to me about the lack of respect I’ve cultivated or lack of diligence in my children to overcome problems. But he always shows me abundantly more about the situation at hand. He sees all circumstances in the framework of relationship, just as we his children, were created strictly for that purpose alone. He does not talk to me about punishment or modifying behavior through limitless consequences, although I am usually stuck there in my thinking resources. He never takes me to “spare the rod, spoil the child.” He takes my narrow temporal mind and expands his concerns to one of eternal Kingdom living. He reminds me of Matthew 22:35-40 when the Pharisees were trying to mock Jesus; “35 Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying,36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.38 This is the first and great commandment.39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”Now that’s eternal! It repents my mind back to what Jesus knows to be the two most important things in eternity, love and relationship. He reminds me how to deal with every situation. When love and relationship is the only thing to focus on, everything else seems small in nature.
With this refreshed perspective, He tells me again his plans for my children and the hope he has in them. He shows me snap shots of them all grown up and happy. All his plans are clearly based on the characteristics and personality traits HE himself placed in them, despite what we, as parents would like to take credit for, or not. He directs me in how I should support and encourage my children to become themselves through his Holy Word. I am not to rely on my own measly, human attempts to correct in my child that which irritates or embarrasses me.
If I find it difficult to see a solution or if I find that I’m too angry or hurt to see my children in a positive light, I know it’s time for me to go deeper with God. I know there is something inside me he needs to grow in order that my children are fed and mobile. This is my responsibility as a parent TO my child, not FOR my child. God needs to heal and grow the exact place in me that is blind or unavailable to what my child needs to grow. First and foremost, we are faithful servants of God and equipped shepherds to our children, or we are not setting an example of Christ’s lead. If Christ is not our example we are at risk of becoming ineffective parents that inadvertently blame our children for “making us look bad after all we have done for them.” It is a harsh reality, but many of us take our children’s behavior way too personally. We are unable to separate ourselves from our children’s choices. Children are going to make a million mistakes. It is only when we give more notice to the mistakes that we become blind to our children and what GOD HIMSELF made them to be, even if we don’t understand it. We slowly become “conditional lovers”.
When this happens, we punish out of pride, which in turn shames our children and strips their confidence. Proverbs 11:2 warns us “when pride comes, then comes shame, but with the humble is wisdom.” Jesus was so sure in his relationship with his father that he was able to remain humble and wise at the same time. Our children are looking to us for us to remain HUMBLE yet wise. If we don’t have wisdom to give, we look at Jesus’ example. We go to our Father.
There are so many things we are called to grow in our children. But I think we underestimate the power of hope. Depression and disconnectedness in children is at all-time high. More children are labeled and medicated in the world today than ever before. It’s not an epidemic; it’s a sign of the times. Darkness is getting louder. It’s a much harder world to live in today. There is so much more competition in every arena in a child’s life. Technology has done wonderful things for human kind, but the enemy has also used it to compare, compete, terrorize, distract, bully, and steal hope from God’s children. It is loud and distracting, just what the enemy is all about. The louder the opinion of the world, the more we lose hope in what God has offered us through His Son. Proverbs 13:12 says that, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”
It is important to foster daily hope into our children. This includes a picture of what you know they will become despite what circumstances are present. Children desperately need to see in their parents the confidence and hope in Christ Jesus, that the current situation is NOT beyond hope. It is extremely important for them to know that what they are doing is not reflective of the final opinion you have of them. If that was the case with God, he would have never sent his son to redeem a relationship with us. If you are in fear that your child is out of reach from God, or that this current situation will never be resolved, you may need to revamp your own relationship with God. Ask him to reflect on all his promises of victory placed as the inheritance for ALL of his children, including you and your descendants.
Warning! If you are not in faith, you are not in the spirit in which God gave you and you are worshiping the lies of the enemy. When you worship the lies of Satan, he has all permission to kill, steal, and destroy from your relationships. “God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Tim 1:7. When a child senses fear in their parents they can easily lose hope. Just as we can sense that same fear in spouses, or people in which we are in close relationship. When they can see that their parents are emotional and overwrought with worry and concern, they start to hide as Adam and Eve did in the garden. They tend to keep things to themselves in an effort to protect their parents from the “bad people” they are becoming. What a lie from the enemy, and what if we agree with the enemy? Where does a child go for guidance? They start to believe at a very young age that they are on their own, and they are disconnected because they are different. Even their parents think so.
What children don’t know is that they themselves secretly resent their parents for not being “there for them”. Although we physically have tried to support them in as many ways possible, they almost always are after things of the heart, the fruit of the spirit Galatians talks about in chapter 5: “22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
Parents are the closest beings children have to God’s ways, until their minds mature. Your children may carry things in their hearts that they feel it is not safe to share. It is our responsibility to convey a safe and powerful place to communicate, based on a Godly foundation of love, grace, respect, and hope. If no such place exists in our homes; a child must rely on behavior to show the state of their belief systems. This does not MEAN THAT THE CHILD IS GOOD OR BAD! This just means that the child has some things on his heart he doesn’t feel safe in communicating, so he may become deceitful, defensive, hostile, rebellious, or shut down. If their parents believe this about them anyway, might as well give them what they want. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. This is where the enemy tries to convince us and our children that this behavior is our child’s identity, and that there is no hope for change. We as parents must stand firm in Christ, knowing that our children are sons and daughters of the most high God and the throughout their entire lives they will be tested for their character, and we as parents will be right there to remind them of what God says about them. Do you even know?
A common dominating factor in bringing a child into counseling is their ability to be obedient in the home and in society. We ask our children to overlook the examples of disconnectedness, disrespect, inconsistency, mixed messages, and failures in our marriages, our homes and in our world in an order for them to magically form these feelings within themselves. However, in John 14:31 we find a wonderful example of obedience through relationship. “But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do.” True obedience is a response to a loving relationship that feeds the heart DAILY! The relationship starts in all of us as an ongoing growth in identity that is cultivated in acceptance, without conditions; and offers us a space in which we are always welcome with our Father (despite our failures or brokenness). Rebellion can cultivate when our child sees our OWN rebellion in relationship to God, our earthly relationships and even our rebellion to have a relationship with them. Why do we rebel against God? When you get down to the core (even in the Garden of Eden…the original sin) I believe it is because we do not TRULY believe God is all that He is. He is not good and will not take care of us. He is not all powerful and has no desire to heal every situation in which the enemy has convinced us he is in control. We worry because we believe things will not be taken care of by God, God isn’t there, God doesn’t care.
Chances are if there is rebellion in your home, somewhere your child may be feeling the same way about their relationship with you. The child may want to say to you “How dare you see me ANY different than who I really am?” Or she may be feeling “I hate how much you don’t see my potential so I will act out to defend it!” Or “Why do I have to go for another psychological evaluation?” Or better yet “How dare you give up on me!” “I’ll show you!”
Obedience is NOT a control game or a power struggle. It may look like one when parent and child are out of resources, but obedience is a byproduct or “fruit” of a beautifully balanced relationship built on unconditional love, compassion, and understanding. It has been the ultimate relationship and desire between God and his people since the beginning of time. If you do not know where to start in this relationship because you have never received this yourself, you must first start this relationship with your Heavenly Father. HE has the power to heal you so that you in return may be a vessel of healing for your children. Parents are the strongest resource in healing their own children, not counselors. I can say that because I have been counseling for twenty years. I always see the most healing in a child by the hand and healed hearts of their parents.
WARNING!!! There is a common corporate attack on parents today that says “I’m so scared I will mess up my children”. With the internet being a place of millions of opinions on parenting, a constant news feed of killings, bombings, bullies and don’t get me started on MTV, a parent can easily become lost and disillusioned. This particular message is so strong that it preoccupies the minds and hearts of many parents to the point they no longer enjoy parenting. Parenting may not be 100% jolly all the time, but it should not be depressing. Please believe the Word of God that says, God is more powerful than your fears and your pride, based on whether or not you “can do a good job”. He is greater and more powerful than your opinion of yourself. His plan for your child will NOT be hindered by you. Take a look at the testimonies of predominate people in society, so many of them became who they are DESPITE the circumstance placed in their path; including bad parents. We as parents must STOP doubting for the Lord’s favor, rewards, and blessings on our lives; based on what we see, feel, or think of our past or current situations! The power He gives us in our spirit, the same power that resurrected our Savior from the dead, is the power of life to see beyond what we see and deeper than the behavior manifesting in ourselves and our children. In Colossians 1:26-27, Paul calls this “the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Colossians 1:27. Let that just sink into your heart – that you may have revelation of its entirety, come report card time! If that’s not enough Paul adds in Romans 8:24 that “For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?”
By the way, let me also encourage you that the majority of your children’s struggles are not even about you! They are not based on how well you are doing as a parent, or how good of a person you are. But primarily, their struggles are about themselves and their lives. Their struggles probably have more to do with school, friends, the opposite sex (depending on their age), other authority figures, feeling like they fit in, bullying, peer pressure, the list goes on and on. Your ability to help them however, has everything to do with your relationship with your child, how you perceive yourself as a person, as a parent, and most importantly how much hope you carry FOR your child that they will persevere and end up successful. Most children do not come to parents to have them “do it for them”. Most children need motivation and understanding supplied by an outpouring of abundant confidence and patience in their parents. These parents are continually committed to working on themselves in deepening their relationship with God because they understand how hard the world is on the heart. They take up the shield of faith and defend their child against the enemy’s accusations. They don’t join in at the chorus!!! The Bible gives us example after example where Jesus went first to His Father in order to supply the disciplines and his followers with everything they needed to succeed. “And it was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God.” (Luke 6:12), And early in the morning, while it was still dark, He arose and went out and departed to a lonely place, and was praying there. ( Mark 1:35), And when day came, He departed to a lonely place; and the multitudes were searching for Him, and came to Him, and tried to keep Him from going away from them. ( Luke 4:42). Why would we not do the same for our children? Parents must first ground themselves in the foundations of the Father before the enemy convinces them to place false expectations on themselves. When we consider ourselves failures, what does that leave for our children?
What is your child’s heart saying in his offense to you? Why can you no longer see hope for your child? Look deeper. If you can’t, it is time to get power from the only source that can help you. Your Heavenly Father is waiting to heal you so that you can feed your child’s broken heart with all the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Let’s go back to Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Engage with the backing of heaven for wonderful power and transformation!
In order to teach your children not to become a victim to behavior or life for that matter, you yourself must FIRST BECOME UNOFFENDABLE and wise despite your child’s behavior. Remember, it’s not about you anyway! Things that will NOT work in your transformation: criticism, yelling, anger, threats, shame, guilt, physical abuse, bullying, intimidation, ignoring, silent treatment, taking your love away, and lastly…shipping them off. So where do you start? Nothing motivates change in anyone more than unconditional LOVE. If this seems too simple for you, then you have no idea the power of it. If this talk calls you to a relationship with God the Father, it calls you to a relationship with Love, Himself. Unfamiliar with love? 1 Corinthians 13 is a great place to pull apart, piece by piece, who God is and what a relationship with Him can do to transform you, and your current situation with your child.
The Greatest Gift
13 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, it profits me nothing.
4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away?
11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.
13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
I encourage you to start a study of love with your children.
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