At church, Hudson asked if I would buy him a muffin and began to tell me how he didn’t have any time to eat. It rubbed me the wrong way, so I stopped and asked if that was true. He had 45 minutes, and ‘all’ he did was get dressed, which provided enough time to eat. I needed him to see something. He was coming at me as a victim, trying to motivate me to meet his need. I want him to approach me as a son. I want him to see me as a mother who cares. Yes, I want him to take responsibility for managing his responsibilities and time, but this isn’t his norm or weakness. I helped him to see that he wasn’t a victim but instead chose not to eat and was now paying the price for it. I asked him to approach me like a son and humble himself with his need. It is risky asking someone for help when you have messed up, but I don’t want my children to partner with being a victim to motivate me (or others) to help them. If I had bought him a muffin without helping him to own his choice, I would have indirectly taught him that there is power in being a victim. He enjoyed his muffin and grew in learning how his Father deals with His children.
VICTIM VS. SON/DAUGHTER
Corporate love works well for the one in authority but not so much for the receiver because it denies their creative expression and teaches them they need to look like, sound like, and act like everyone else. Each child is different, and we must learn how to dance with them alone. They have different styles, personalities, likes, interests, talents, desires, and ways of connecting. The sooner we realize this as parents, the greater joy there will be in our homes. It is impossible for a child to feel seen, heard, and valued when expected to be someone other than who God knits them together to be.
Examples of corporate love: expecting everyone to work, eat, get dressed, and do homework at the same speed. Some children just move faster/slower.
Expecting everyone to respond to the same style of communication. Some children need things spelled out more, said with greater tenderness or more engagement, such as eye contact.
Expecting everyone to adjust to your spoken love language. Children speak their own language and may not have a natural high appreciation for yours.
Expecting everyone to value and appreciate what you value and appreciate. Some children are just simply not going to follow in your footsteps but need to find their own journey.
Expecting everyone to be happy when you are happy, tired when you are tired, or hungry when you are hungry. Children have different needs based on their own bodies.
Ask Jesus to show you if you are expecting your children to be mini-you’s in an area that God wants them to BE who He created them to simply be.
How many of you have anxiety about sending the kids to school? Ask Him, “Jesus, is this anxiety about their journey or mine?” We do not want to pass on our fears, anxiety, and worry to our children based on our own undealt with experiences. Your journey matters because you will automatically parent out of that place.
Imagine you are in your car and stopped at a light. The car in front of you is your teen driver. You start hearing a loud sound and wonder if it is the engine rattling. You veer off to the side of the road and call a tow truck. You wait for hours for them to show up and then invest another several hours at the auto repair shop waiting for your turn. They say nothing is wrong with the car, but you have to pay for the towing, mechanic’s labor, and diagnostic testing. What a waste of time, energy, and finances.
So what was the sound?
It was coming from the car in front of you.
They did not veer off and stop to get it looked at. Failure to fix what was wrong and continuing to drive on it caused even greater damage extending to other parts of the engine that were dependent upon the engine to work properly. The domino effect of not addressing the issue causes greater expense of time, energy, and finances.
Friends, this is a word picture for what happens in the Body.
Did you hear the noise coming from a vehicle? Yes!
Did you discern something was wrong? Yes!
Did you do what it took to take care of your own vehicle/heart? Yes!
But you failed to ask Jesus to show you if it was their issue or yours.
We waste our time and get worn out when we assume an issue is ours. We must ask Jesus to show us when we feel, discern, and experience things if this is coming from us or others. I can’t tell you how many parent coaching sessions I do with people who have been in the mechanic shop waiting and waiting to figure out what is wrong with them, only to have Jesus show us it was something going on in the other person.
Here’s where we miss it.
If it was the car in front of you, they need your help! Focusing on yourself and trying all sorts of self-diagnostic testing gets your eyes off of the assignment in front of you and puts it back on you.
If what you are discerning, feeling, and experiencing is coming from the person in front of you, they need:
- Your love, kindness, and grace
- Your authority over the issue declaring it defeated and resolved
- To be reminded of who they are (they aren’t a broken part but called to be fully functional)
- Prayers for the root of the ‘rattle’ in their lives to be revealed and dealt with
- When appropriate, a conversation to help them to hear it. Not everyone can hear their own ‘rattle.
- Your wisdom and guidance on how best to solve the issue.
- To know they aren’t driving alone but have someone following them (or in the passenger seat) to help them on their journey
- They don’t need your judgment, accusation, and condemnation
Stop doubting yourself. You are hearing, seeing, experiencing, sensing, and discerning something because something is there. While we always want to be humble and let God examine our own hearts, sometimes you are on assignment to help the person in front of you. How you choose to respond significantly impacts how much damage that person’s ‘rattle’ will cost them and affect others.
The family operates like the gears in a machine. My sweet Ellie was in a season of big emotions (oh boy). I could tell the emotions were overwhelming her, but when I asked if she was okay, she said, “Yes. I am totally fine,” yet moments later, she released a bunch of crooked emotions. It made quite a mess and affected everyone in the family, including being late for school and my meeting. When she came home from school, she asked to talk about it, quickly apologizing. I sensed more was going on as this was becoming a new pattern and not just a bad day moment. We revisited earlier that day when I invited her to give her heart a voice, and she lied when she said she was ‘totally fine.’ We began to ask Jesus to show us why she was not honest. She said, “I am used to doing things right, and I do not like it when I make a mess.” I encouraged her to allow Jesus to speak into that area as He wants us to live whole and fruitful lives. If we are uncomfortable with our growth and process, we will move into a performance-based lifestyle, which is not His will or Kingdom. I asked her “What about making a mess makes your heart so uncomfortable?” and she burst into tears. YEP. There it is. She recalled a situation not that long ago where I had just spent the entire afternoon lavishing on her and intentionally connecting 1:1 but she came home and began picking a fight with her siblings. I had a meeting to get to and lots to do (I was running late because I was out with her). I commented how her attitude was affecting the rest of us, and since that comment, she felt like having big emotions was bad, so she lied about how she was feeling. Was that my true heart? NO! Was I telling her she couldn’t have emotions? NO! Was I trying to shut her down? NO! Did I handle the situation the best I could? NOPE. I was rushed, pressured, and honestly a bit frustrated with her that I had just poured so much into her, and she was choosing disconnection with her siblings. Her ‘lying’ was revealing a heart splinter (hurt, lie, or offense). That is a GOOD thing. As we sat with Jesus, He showed us what was going on underneath her lying and brought the lie she believed about not being allowed to have big emotions into alignment. Parenting was never meant to be a call to perfection. It was meant to operate like the gears of a machine, knowing that everyone affects each other and can be used for HIS glory and HIS alignment. She got set free from the lie. I got to model humility by cleaning up my own mess.
P.S. If you want to learn more about how to partner with God in your parenting, consider joining our online JOURNEY class: Journey – ONLINE CLASS – Let the Children Fly
Oh, that we would grasp this revelation and run our homes and churches to reflect the Father’s heart.
Hudson has been a bear – like the mean grizzly kind. He would not heed the multiple warnings and continued to operate out of disrespect for all of those around him. Finally, in frustration, someone walked away and said they could no longer be around him. He found himself disconnected from the group. The next morning as he was cleaning up his mess, he created another one, but this one had serious consequences. I was so frustrated as I felt like we kept putting out fires but never getting to the source. I knew I had to go deeper into getting the Lord’s heart and strategy for him, as he was clearly stuck in a cycle. As we asked Jesus, he said he wanted revenge (which is exactly how he was acting). We asked Jesus to show us what he wanted revenge for, and he started crying. He said the girls kept ignoring him. I called a family meeting, and we began to realize that we thought the girls were responding because Hudson was being unkind, but in reality, the girls were the ones not being loving, and it was causing him to feel rejected and like he didn’t belong in his own family (which was the root of his behavior).
All the discipline in the world would not have addressed the real issue – the girl’s hearts. He was not the ISSUE. His behavior was simply waving a FLAG that there was an issue. I went from being so frustrated with him to being so thankful for his reaction because it alerted me to something greater for the girls.
There are certain areas the Lord has provided for us and wants us to steward well.
Some of the greatest meltdowns come when someone is simply overly tired or hungry. When left unchecked for extended periods, these areas can be used by the enemy to influence. God provides for our needs, but it is up to us to receive and honor them. When we deny His provision, we set ourselves up for greater hardship. God wants us to manage these areas well so that we can be the full capacity He has called us to be. Eat often to nourish your body. Resolve the injustice you feel in your heart and surrender it to Him. Reach out to a friend or loved one, invite them over, or pick up the phone. Go sleep, take a nap, and rest.
How would you answer this question? “The thing I wanted from my dad the most was _____.”
I am not asking if you did or didn’t receive it. I am asking what you wanted the most from him. Spend some time forgiving him for not knowing how to give it to you. More importantly, have you learned how to get that from your Father? If we do not learn how to receive from Abba, we will simply pass on the same lack to our children. It is never about having perfect parents but experiencing the perfect Father.
The other night my daughter was ANGRY and lashing out at everyone for the smallest things. Clearly, this was not her, as she is normally sweet as chocolate. The following morning, I asked her to do the dishes, which should have been a four-minute gig, and 1.5 hours later, she was still there. It was time to go, and she still hadn’t finished. I came to her and put my hand on her heart and said, “Babe, I do not know what is going on, but you were not wired to hold onto sin, and something is clearly coming out crooked. When you are ready to talk, I am here.” I didn’t know there was sin, but those were the words that came out of my mouth. She asked to talk hours later and, with tears, began to tell me that she was invited by her friends to vape at school. She declined the offer, but the realization that she had to stand alone was overwhelming to her. I wanted to assure her that it wouldn’t happen again, but the truth is she will have to stand alone and make choices against the pressure of the crowd for the rest of her life. It was a beautiful and tender conversation about what it really means to be a follower of Jesus in today’s world. We talked about the ‘high’ of popularity and the joy of obedience. The next morning at Church, worship began, and I leaned over to her and said, “Sweetheart, focus on this song with your situation in mind. Is He worthy of following, even if it means not vaping with your friends?” I HATE that she was asked by her friends to vape, but I am SO glad it agitated her soul to the point of being exposed and that God used it to be yet another building block in her story with Him. He IS worthy of it all!
Over and over, I have met with parents who had to experience tough things growing up. What made it traumatic was not the event but how those around them responded to the event. How you respond can be the difference between a hard event and childhood trauma.
A child grows up with parents who do not know who they are, so they aren’t able to teach the child who they are. There are heart splinters left to be resolved, and the child grows up bitter, judgemental, and blaming their parents for their failures and mistakes. Obviously, this is not a path we want to choose. But another group of people with the same experiences have concluded, “Well, they did the best they could.” It sounds mature and full of grace to say that, but the adult child is still struggling profoundly. Our minds need to have answers, and we begin to draw conclusions to help us feel empowered, even in hurt and pain. To say, “Well, they did the best they could,” is a coping mechanism to make us feel better about the hurt and lack we have endured. God says the truth sets us free, and I believe He wants us to walk in the middle of both of these responses. You can’t heal what you can’t acknowledge. Honor covers the offender, knowing that they are on their journey, but it doesn’t look like silence. You can’t change what you don’t want to see. Freedom doesn’t come from blaming your parents. Freedom comes from acknowledging that something was out of alignment and partnering with God to restore it.