Ask, “Jesus, if You were here in the flesh, how would You handle my children?” (You may be surprised by the answer).
LET’S ASK JESUS
Years ago, I felt this insane craving to be alone with the Lord. I booked a hotel, got the four kids situated, and took off for my 24-hour date with Jesus. I spent my quiet alone time making my grocery list, journaling my thoughts, getting food, responding to emails, and reading a book. When it was over, I was physically refreshed but spiritually dry. I realized I treated my ‘date with Jesus’ as if I were the only one at the table and did all the talking. The second time I booked my 24-hour date with Jesus, I took nothing but my Bible, journal, and a large jug of water. My soul came alive. It was just Him and me, and I left feeling like we had spent a month together on a deserted island. I vowed I would make it a priority to get away at least twice a year.
When I became a single mom, I realized I couldn’t do it anymore because of finances. I heard God say so clearly, “Do not ever let money be a deciding factor between us,” and, in faith, I booked a hotel room on my credit card. Someone graciously took my children for the night, and I had the most glorious time with Him. There was a glitch with the hotel, and they ended up giving me the hotel for FREE. I laughed and vowed once again that I would never let anything stand in the way of my 24-hour dates with Him. Fast forward over a decade, and I am still sneaking away. There is no price tag to put on your intentional time with Him.
I was so struck while reading Psalm 119:143 – “In my distress and anguish your commandments comfort me.” I was reading commands as in obedience, but as I sat with this longer, the revelation came. What does God command us to do? To praise, not fear, rejoice, and give thanks. Whoa!
Praise – gets our eyes off our circumstances and on Him. We become whatever we set our gaze to.
Not fear – fear sabotages our faith.
Rejoice – means to partner with.
JOY – joy releases a natural chemical in our brain that restores our passion and fight.
Give thanks – focuses on what He has already done (and is capable of doing again).
The nature of distress is extreme anxiety. The nature of anguish is server suffering. God’s COMMANDS bring us back to the reality that He sees. He is in control; He is able; He has done it before and can do it again. Yes, His commands comfort me.
When my sweet Emma was little, she had the hardest time grasping the concept that she could not help herself to whatever she wanted in the stores. She would come home with her pockets filled with unpaid goodies. I kept trying to teach her, but it wasn’t sinking in. When I found a pair of dangling earrings, I knew I had to take things to the next level. I took her to the store and asked for the manager. I had Emma explain that she took the items and came to return them. To my utter surprise, the manager told me to relax and then looked at Emma and said, “That is okay, sweetie!” I was dumbfounded and asked the manager if she would be okay with that response if she were 15 or 55, still stealing from her store. I was sad the manager was working against what I was trying to set up and instill in my daughter. I share that story to say we must know the bigger picture of what is happening. I was a mom trying to teach my daughter the value of not stealing, but the manager spoke against it and encouraged Emma that it was no big deal. There is SO much going on in the world right now, and we must must must hear from God what He is doing and align our prayers, comments, and voice with His. We do not want to be like the manager and speak out against what He is doing. We want to partner with Him.
May I encourage you to gather the children and spend some intentional time as a family asking: “Father, what are You doing right now?” “Holy Spirit, how do You want me to pray today?” “Jesus, will You show me what You see?” He is a good Father and knows what He is doing. Let’s partner WITH Him and align our voices with what He is doing.
In four different parent coaching sessions, the theme was moms partnering with profound pressure to do things correctly and yet being in situations where they could not possibly achieve perfection. Jesus showed up in a similar way with each of them. When children are raised with the bar so high, they learn directly or indirectly that messes and mistakes are not acceptable. They develop a mindset that says, “God is only pleased with me when I do it right,” and while it profits them in life to be overachievers, they are missing out on HIS truth. Messes, weaknesses, and failures do not separate you from God. His truth is that when we come to Him, our weakness and lack bring intimacy and closeness. A loving parent knows that a 2-year-old will make messes, and they see it as an opportunity to offer comfort, reassurance, and help them grow in their capacity to do better next time. They do not see the child failing but rather as maturing and are honored to be a part of the process. If we only have closeness with Jesus when we are getting A’s and doing things perfectly, there will be a level of fear preventing deeper closeness because, deep down, you believe it is only because of your ‘good’ performance. There is a satisfying closeness with someone that only comes when they love you despite your failures and weakness, which is real vulnerability and closeness. If you experience this in your parenting, I encourage you to spend time with Him.
**Ask, “Jesus, will You please show me who I need to forgive for introducing me to the need to be perfect?”
**Forgive that person for directly or indirectly teaching you about perfectionism and pressure.
**Ask, “Jesus, what lies have I believed because of the pressure to be perfect?”
**Renounce/break up with the lie. “I renounce the lie that _____.”
**Ask, “Jesus, what is Your truth?” Declare His truth over yourself daily!
My son was invited to play airsoft guns with a friend’s husband. He was super excited and talked about it non-stop. Yet the morning of, he was really unkind to his sisters, wasn’t listening, or following through on things I had asked of him. It was a continued battle all morning. Finally, I told him he could not go. The moment I shut it down I heard God say, “Removing his heart’s desire is not the key to his heart.” I instantly took back my words and have pondered this a great deal since. It is the goodness of God that leads us to repentance, not withholding, punishing, or communicating we have to be ‘good enough’ to have our desires met. The key to the testimony was discovering what was really going on and not just seeing his bad behavior. While my son’s choices that morning could have been from some form of rebellion in his heart, I believe it stemmed from his profound excitement to bond with an adult male over the activity that he loves the most. He lives with 3 girls and a mom 24/7 and has a natural longing/desire in his heart for male connection. He talked about it non-stop all week long. The morning of he was growing impatient for the big moment to arrive. He was like a child the night before Christmas. He is still a child and lacked the maturity to steward his impatience well. I am all for discipline, correction, and training, and yet there are times we care so much about righting their wrong and fail to see the bigger picture of their heart. The Kingdom of God does not ‘punish’ for age-appropriate immaturity. When I first said he couldn’t go his entire body sunk and it pierced his heart. If my goal was ‘punishment’ I did it. But the moment I said, “God just told me that I was wrong to take away your deep desire to go,” he broke down in tears. We talked about his excitement and impatience and how he behaved that morning. He was fully repentant and said he was sorry to his sisters and me.
Here is the glorious part – then I got to connect the dots for him that Father God sees his heart and wants to fulfill those desires. Do I REALLY want to shut my son down for not being able to control his utter excitement over getting this deepest desire fulfilled? That is where partnering with my son’s Creator is so key – we don’t always know what is going on in their hearts, but He does. There is a time to discipline, a time to say ‘no’ and there is a time to look deeper at the bigger picture!
I hear this ALL the time – a person falls radically in love with Jesus and has excellent ‘quiet times.’ They get up early and spend tons of undivided time with Him, and they have a close relationship. The kids come, and soon those quiet moments together give way to sleepless nights and the demands of their new addition. As time passes, the relationship suffers, and they begin to feel exhausted, dry, and burned out. They begin to feel guilty for not investing hours into their relationship with God, which only makes them feel worse. The time we spend with our children in this season is 24/7, but there is a Biblical command to let them leave and cleave to their future mates, meaning our 24/7 relationship will transition into a new way of connecting and relating, yet the love and relationship are still there!
Could it be God intended all along for our time with Him to be transitioned, as well, when the baby comes? Do we not think that God KNEW that our relationship with Him would change when He gave us the gift of our child? Instead of feeling guilty that your former way of relating to Jesus isn’t working, ask Him to show you what the NEW looks like.
“Jesus, I miss our times together. I miss knowing You and feeling Your presence. I miss our deep connection. Will You please show me what our relationship and time together look like in this season?”
Be blessed with the fact that your relationship is growing, changing, and being transformed into something NEW!
“Jesus, will You please show me how You feel about my mother/father/sister/brother?”
Ask for each family member and then share what you heard. Gather as a family in the living room, in the car, at the dinner table, or at bedtime, and ask Jesus together. This is so empowering for children because it gives you a chance to model how you communicate with God, increases their faith, and you get to see and encounter Him as a family. Spiritual healing is a muscle that is strengthened over time, like worshiping and praying. The more you do it, the stronger you become at it.