I want to share with you one of the most significant revelations I have had in my parenting. It was a game-changer and altered everything within my family structure. Every home we lived in happened to have an open floor plan where the dining room, kitchen, and living room were a large space. The kids were young and closer in age and would begin running from one end of the house and zoom around each room, chasing each other. I am a fun mom. I can handle flying Nerf gun bullets, stepping on the pile of Legos, forts in the living room, and messes made from hardcore playing. But when the kids would zoom in and out all around me, it was like I was fine one moment, and a millisecond later, I was not. I would immediately shut it down and redirect them to something quiet and still, like a movie. There was a season that I honestly wondered if Holy Spirit was whispering in their ear, “Start running,” because it seemed like that was all they did from sunup to sundown, and it was driving me crazy. I was just about to step in when I heard the Lord say, “What are they doing wrong?” I vividly remember responding out loud with, “I do not know, but I do not like it.” That little exchange was like a tap on the shoulder, and I realized that maybe, just maybe, this was not their issue but mine. As they continued, I would sneak into my room and process my heart. I was hearing giggles, joy, and sibling connection, yet my heart was filled with anxiety. I began to see that my response was not matching my reality. I was becoming more and more aware that something deep inside of me was not at peace, which affected my parenting that was shutting them down and redirecting them, and I hated it. I hated feeling so much unrest. I hated not feeling in control. I hated that I had to redirect them so that I could feel at peace. Every time they would start zooming around, I would remove myself and process my heart, which took nearly six weeks – six weeks of laying down my tools of control to keep myself comfortable and six weeks of being radically uncomfortable. Finally, I got the revelation as to what was happening in my heart. God asked what I was feeling, and I said, “Anxious.” Anxious? Why on earth would I be anxious when my children were laughing and connecting? And suddenly, I got a mental picture of my childhood. My three siblings and I were close in age too, and whenever our joy or play began to get ‘out of control,’ one of us would be beaten or shut down. I am not sure which was worse, being beaten yourself or the powerlessness of having to watch your siblings. I began to cry. I could still hear their giggles in the other room as my deep anxiety was being released through the wave of emotions. I heard God say, “When your children are full of joy, you get anxious that one of them will get hurt, so you shut it down to protect them,” but the sad thing is that they are not in danger. It is ME who needed to know we were safe, not them. I got set free that day from the fear of joy.
Had I continued to use my authority to control my children to keep my heart feeling safe, I would, in essence, be teaching them that joy is not acceptable, not through beating them but by shutting it down each time. THIS is how our unresolved issues affect our parenting, and we swing so far to the other side of the pendulum. Jesus is our center and wants us anchored in freedom and wholeness. The deep, life-altering revelation that God gave me is that while I am older, wiser, and more capable than my children, God knit them together, not in MY image to be molded and shaped into a little me, but in HIS image and He uses them to reveal, heal and restore what was lost in ME so I can become more like HIM. I am the adult, but God is my Parent, and He uses my little ones to parent me ALL THE TIME. Now when I want my children to cease zooming all over the place, I am able to use my parental authority as God has directed in peace, not from a place of control and needing them to change their behavior so that I could feel comfortable. There is a world of difference.
HeartWork: What is the biggest and most consistent trigger you experience in your parenting? Grab your journal and ask, “Jesus, what about this behavior makes my heart so uncomfortable?”