KEEPING OUR HEARTS OFFENSE FREE

KEEPING OUR HEARTS OFFENSE FREE

FORGIVE – fərˈɡiv/, verb. To stop feeling angry or resentful toward (someone) for an offense, flaw, or mistake. It is okay to have to forgive your children in your heart. In fact, keeping our hearts offense free is key to healthy lifelong connections. 

40 YEAR LIE

 A lady in her 40’s was so paralyzed by groups that she would not attend classes, go to Bible studies, church, restaurants, or anywhere else where large groups gathered. Finally, she could not take the isolation anymore and began seeking help. When they asked Jesus to show her the first time she felt paralyzed by a large group, she recalled the story of when she was just three years old and remembered feeling loved and secure with her large family. They were at her house, and there was a lot of excitement and love, but on a particular day, when she walked into the room, they all hushed really quickly, and she could tell that something was wrong. They all just stared at her, and the silence was paralyzing and awkward for her. For years the question, “What is wrong with me?” haunted her. Jesus showed her that the family was in town for her surprise birthday party and that they were all discussing how they would surprise her. When she walked in, they all got silent, not wanting to ruin the surprise.

Doesn’t that story break your heart? ONE lie for FORTY years! But this is what I want you to see – when the heart splinter (in this case, a lie of “what is wrong with me?”) entered, it was the PARENTS who surely saw a change in their daughter. You cannot believe a lie like that and not have it change how you think, feel and act. Had the parents been empowered to help her, the splinter could have been pulled in childhood.

SLIME OF SHAME

Emma had a bit of a rough day, and I knew her heart felt tenderized. The following morning, I made an effort to really see her and gave her a long good morning hug. I began to call out the truth about who she was. When I said the words, “There is nothing wrong with you,” she let out a big sigh and relaxed in my arms. I realized what she needed the most was to be affirmed that SHAME (something is wrong with me) is a liar, and she had permission to ignore it despite the evidence making it feel very true.

CONTROL-BASED PARENTING

I was talking with a mom about others using the tools of control and disempowerment in parenting, and she burst into tears. She realized she was guilty of using them with one of her children and her heart ached, realizing how she had been negatively affecting her child. This is my WHOLE point in doing these posts on disempowerment. The issue rarely lies with the one being disempowered but the one doing it. Parents/leaders use these tools because something else is going on inside of them that makes them feel like they need to protect themselves. Nothing controls and pushes back someone further than disempowering them because it renders them powerless. It is a faulty coping mechanism for something greater going on. Here is the deal – God isn’t mad at the parent/leader who uses these tools because He understands WHY they do it. He sees their fear, anxiety, and insecurity that causes them to feel the need to self-protect. God doesn’t want them to stay that way, but He isn’t mad at them.

DIRTY SECRET

Anger, even rage, is a common ‘dirty little secret’ of many parents. Anger is actually an appropriate response for an orphan who has the weight of the world on their shoulders, has to protect themselves, and strive to meet their needs. The answer isn’t anger management; it is experiencing the Father’s love at that moment. He isn’t mad at your anger and wants you to know His love even in those messy places.

DO YOU TRUST HIM EVEN IF…?

Excerpt from my book:

I was sandwiched between my pursuit of trying to help the kids with their deep owies and yet still trying to keep the bridge from burning fully with their father. I was struggling with letting them go to his house for the weekend, knowing it would only reap more trauma. Part of the problem was that we did not fully yet know what kind of trauma was happening, just that the kids were having strong reactions and saying things that were pointing to some very upsetting possibilities. My friend asked me, “Do you trust God even if something happens?” My immediate answer was, “NO! No, I do not.” I mean, I loved Him, and He was my Savior, but trust Him with my children? Oh my. That stretched a level of faith in me I had not yet tapped into. Her reply was both upsetting and convicting. She said, “That is the problem, Lisa. Unless and until you resolve that God is big enough, even if things happen to your children that bring pain, you will spend the next 18 years wearing yourself out trying to play God in their life. Resolve this issue first and then make a decision in their best interest.” This was perhaps one of the most painful yet defining moments in my parenting and one I have to ask myself repeatedly. Do I trust Him even if _____?

APRIL SHOWERS

I heard the Lord say to me, “April showers bring May flowers,” and was reminded of the scene in The Shack where Sarayu (Holy Spirit) was collecting the tears of Mack, who was deeply grieving the devastating loss of his daughter. Later in the movie, Sarayu used those same tears to water the seeds that would become a massive tree. God is doing something profoundly deep within you in this season. Spiritual Daughters, I am so proud of you! I am proud of the one who stepped away and caught her breath. I am proud of the one who went outside to let the tears flow. I am proud of the one who chose faith over fear. I am proud of the one who showed her gorgeous vulnerability. I am proud of the one who sobbed in her closet. I am proud of the one who called a friend and shared her heart. I am so proud of the one who owned her heart and what she was feeling. I am so proud of the one who kept her eyes on Jesus. I am proud of the one who dropped to her knees, asking God for help. I am so proud of you for choosing to let God have His way with you and not medicating your heart with the novocain of the world. The only way to lessen the pain is to feel it. Let Jesus continue to have His way with you, and He will allow those tears to blossom into something so beautiful.

FIGHTING WELL

If everyone was born with a deep need for connection, why then are so many children feeling alone and without a best friend? I believe one of the reasons is that they are so ill-equipped to deal with bumps in relationships. Somewhere along the lines, we believe that if something is hard or even painful, it means it is wrong. But what if God knew what was inside our children and brought them the right people who would reveal what needed to be strengthened, healed, or redeemed? This normally happens through conflict and offense. Like every other parent, my heart longs to shield and protect my child from hurt, but that is not reality. Plus, it lacks faith in a God who knows what my child needs more than I do for deeper growth and character development. I cannot tell you how many times one of my kids came home from school, sharing that they got their heart hurt by a friend. Conflict is not a sign of a bad friend. Often, it is the ones who get deep into our hearts that God uses to reveal what is inside us. This is not always a reflection of how ‘mean’ the friend is, but rather that they are touching something inside of us that God wants to grow. Example: It may be true that a friend was rude or made an unkind comment, but perhaps God wants to grow my child to have thicker skin and not be easily offended. It may be true that a friend chose another friend to invite for a sleepover, but perhaps God wants to grow my child in knowing that their identity is not in how many invites, likes, or messages they receive. It may be true that a friend failed to respond to a message or text, but perhaps God wants to grow my child in believing the best and giving people the benefit of the doubt. It may be true that a friend ignored them, but perhaps God wants to grow them in having the confidence to try again. It may be true that a friend got mad and misunderstood their heart, but perhaps God wants to grow my child in an area of being vulnerable. It may be true that a friend failed to reach out in their time of need, but perhaps God wants to grow my child in forgiveness and not holding grudges. It may be true that a friend gossiped about them, but perhaps God wants to grow my child how to have brave conversations with someone who has not protected their heart. It may be true that a friend _________, but perhaps God wants to grow YOUR child in _________. As the school year unfolds, I encourage you to camp out in this statement. Validate their hurt and pain, show them compassion, and then ask Jesus what area He wants you to help your child grow in. Children can learn to fight well, push through the bumps, and not only become strong friends but become more like Him.

PARENTING GOAL

Children who are full of fear, anxiety, and emotional hurt, who believe a lie or feel afraid, can act that out in mean, rude, and inappropriate ways. Just because a child does certain things doesn’t mean the solution is always discipline. Sometimes the solution is a hug, alone time with you, a special date, a positive word, or to be seen. God’s GOODNESS leads us to repentance because He looks beyond our messes and sees what our heart really needs. Perfect behavior should never be the goal in parenting – their heart should be!

REJECT SELF-REJECTION

Self-rejection is lie-based thinking and often starts in childhood when life circumstances ‘prove’ the lie to be true. Children can partner with lies about themselves, such as, “I am fat.” “I am a loser.” “No one likes me.” “I am a mistake.” My face is ugly.” “I am too small to ever be good at sports.” “I am not acceptable.” “_____ disqualifies me from ever fully belonging.” “I will never measure up to my big brother.” “If I were a boy, my dad would accept me.” These are lies that feel true because the circumstances around them serve as evidence. They then partner with the lie as if it were the truth, giving the lie a legal right to influence them. Lies are just thoughts, but what makes them so damaging is that our thoughts and beliefs dictate our behavior. Proverbs 23:7. All of the above statements are LIES. When a child believes a lie about themselves, it is like a splinter in their heart, and they begin to act it out because it is NOT supposed to be there. If all we see is their outward behavior and aren’t digging a little deeper into the WHY of the behavior, we can serve to push the heart splinter in further. We want the lie out, not for it to be masked with perfect behavior. The less-than-pleasant acting out is pointing to the splinter that needs attention. This is not a parenting formula or 1,2,3 step program; it is about PARTNERING WITH THEIR CREATOR, who knows exactly how to search their heart and reveal what is going on. Say Johnny comes home, slams down his backpack, and declares, “I hate math!”. Parents often rush to correct little Johnny that we don’t use the word ‘hate.’ Instead, perhaps we could pull on the rope a bit more and discover what is going on underneath his newfound passion for hating math. “Buddy, why do you hate math?” and he says, “Ms. Jones is mean.” Keep pulling on the rope with validation and questions, “Oh no, how is Ms. Jones mean?” “She called on me today and I got the answer wrong and the whole class laughed at me. I am so stupid.” BAM! There is the lie. Hating math wasn’t agitating his heart; the lie of “I am stupid” was. Again, this is where parents want to rush in and remind Johnny of his intelligence, but the lie is not in his mind; it is in his heart. This is where he needs an ENCOUNTER with His Father to remove the lie. While *I* know the truth that God didn’t make him stupid, that is *his* truth. So, I ask if we can ask Jesus for his truth (after, of course, we have walked through forgiving the teacher for putting him in a position that made him feel vulnerable and unsafe and his peers for laughing at him). Jesus always shows up with His PEACE and TRUTH, which is what sets us free!! This is where parenting becomes a partnership with their Creator and where God takes what the enemy meant to harm and uses it for GOOD! The world has yet to see a generation who grabs hold of the hurts, lies, and offenses in childhood and destroys them IN childhood. His heart SHOULD be agitated if the enemy is whispering lies about his identity. His behavior and less-than-ideal vocabulary about ‘hating’ math were simply signs pointing to the heart splinter that was speaking a lie about his identity. A child who has never been intentionally taught the TRUTH of who they are will have an easier time biting the bait of lies about their worth and value. As parents, we have the incredible honor of teaching our children who they are and building them up in His truth. Identity focuses on who God says they are – worthy, valuable, important, lovable, belong, etc. – and not just what they do, such as good grades, sports, or excellent outward behavior. 

So let’s review: A child who is partnering with turning on themselves is believing a LIE. A child who believes a LIE will act it out with less-than-ideal behaviors because the heart splinter is agitating their heart. You can pull on the rope with validations and questions to be on the lookout for a HURT, LIE, or OFFENSE. Once you identify the hurt, lie, or offense, you help your child walk through forgiveness and then ask Jesus for His truth. We can help children resolve childhood issues IN childhood so that childhood owies don’t become adult-sized woundedness, childhood lies don’t become adult-sized strongholds, and childhood offenses don’t become adult-sized bitterness. Look for ways to intentionally speak the truth over your children about who they are. “Do you know that God loves you even when you mess up?” “You are so important to God; He even knows the number of hairs on your head.” “God created you to look like Him.” “God wants you on His team.” “This family wouldn’t be the same without you.” “You are perfect just the way you are.” “Know what I love most about you? EVERYTHING!” I declare the lies revealed and TRUTH to reign in your homes!

DEALING WITH THE REAL ISSUE

I love testimonies from our Kingdom parenting online class: “This lesson is so timely! Today my daughter passionately refused to do her family contribution (chores), which is so out of character for her. I couldn’t put my finger on the real cause. As I was reading the lesson, Holy Spirit reminded me of the hurt she incurred at school today from her teacher. Wow! What a different night we would have had if I had dealt with the REAL issue – the heart splinter!”