Parents often share that, deep down, they are afraid if they say YES to more of God, He will require something of them that they may not want to do (like sell everything and live overseas). I want to challenge this fear-based belief and say that it is more of a reflection of one’s belief about what kind of Father He is. The reality is saying YES to the deeper things of God means you are going to have to enter a training ground of learning how to receive His goodness, kindness, and blessings as a Son/Daughter. And that, for many, is the harder work!!!!
I hear this all the time – “I believe God is good and loves people, but I don’t think of Him as this fun God. I grew up with a picture that God is always very serious. His Kingdom is serious in that it’s life-changing, but the idea of playing and engaging with Him seems foreign.”
If this is your view of God, I want to invite you to sit with Jesus, His Son. Ask Him, “Jesus, will You please give me a picture of the FUN side of Your Father?” You might want to set an alarm on your phone and ask Jesus to introduce you to this part of His Father every day until you can begin to see and experience this part of YOUR Father, too. Yes, God is Almighty and serious and powerful, but He is also the most fun-loving, tender, and engaged Father.
I took my twins on a day trip to go shopping. I had an allotted amount in my mind that I wanted to lavish on them. I envisioned spending the whole time focusing on them and making them feel seen and special. The first two stores were on my list, and I zoomed in and out at record speed, knowing we had a lot of ground to cover. We went to Forever 21, and two hours later, Emma was ready for the dressing room. There was no place to sit, so I camped out on the dirty floor as the girls giggled, tried on their clothes, and came out to show me. An hour later, Emma is still putting on her fashion show, and I am growing agitated. I rebuked my inner attitude and told it to be joyful (it didn’t work, but I tried). I have never been so excited to leave a store. We entered the next one, and the same thing happened. The first 30 minutes were fun exploring the store, but an hour later, Lauren and I sat there with her pile of selected items waiting for Emma to come out with outfit #88. I released my frustration by commenting, “Are you almost done?” with a tone that communicated I wasn’t enjoying this as much as she was. I felt like I was going to lose it and heard the Lord say, “Go ahead, but you will have to clean up your mess.” As I sat there processing the mess I was about to make (and weighing if it was worth it), I suddenly saw clearly that this wasn’t a case of Emma doing something wrong but about us having utterly different shopping styles. God showed me a picture of releasing my frustration in a way that communicated to my daughter that there was something wrong with her and that she needed to conform to make me comfortable. I realized this is how young girls shut down and turn from their true selves. They are raised to keep mama happy and deny their true selves to keep connection and peace. This is never a child’s job description, and we need to be super careful we are managing our hearts so that we don’t unintentionally shut down our true selves. Suddenly, I noticed that Emma came out of the room with her original clothes on but still had a pile to try on. Her entire demeanor was different, and the joy was gone from her eyes. I asked her why and she said, “It’s okay. I realize I took too long,” but her real heart was sad and disappointed. I wrestled with managing my own frustrations and caring for her heart. We sat on the bench outside the store, and I began to tell her what God had shown me. It was uber important for her to see that her style of shopping stretches me to the core, but that didn’t mean her way was wrong. She was NOT in sin or disobedience, nor was anything wrong with her. She would have giggled the entire time if she had been with peers. However, I explained to her that shopping with me meant she might need to tone it down a bit, not because it was wrong, but to honor those around her. I checked in with her a couple of times to ensure she wasn’t partnering with lies or feeling like something was wrong with her just because I am wired differently from her. I gave her examples of times I have stretched others and had to learn when to tone it down to honor them while still being true to how I was created. It is a dance of learning how to manage our hearts and parenting our child’s hearts.
I can assure you that when your child’s love tank is low, you are going to smell the fumes somewhere! Adults have learned (not-so-healthy) coping mechanisms to pretend that a low tank is still running just fine, but a child will not. Kids don’t need oceans full twice a year; they need continuous drops. I encourage you to sit down and write out at least ten easy, simple ways you can speak your children’s specific love language. This will help you to stay proactive in filling their tanks, even when your plate is full. I cannot tell you how many times a “Hey bud, go set up a game of cards, and I will play a round with you,” can change their heart, attitude, and the atmosphere of our home.
Mary and Joseph were the human vessels God worked THROUGH to accomplish HIS purpose and plan for HIS Kingdom! What if Joseph decided *HE* wanted Jesus to be a football player or a doctor? Just think of how the world would have missed what God was doing. God is smart. God is good and knows what He is doing with the world. He needs parents who will lay down their own agenda and partner with what He is doing SO THAT our children can do all that He has created them to do for His purpose and His plan. I encourage you to spend some quiet time before the Lord today and ask Him, “Father, will You please show me what YOU have put inside my child” or “Holy Spirit, will You please show me the destiny (purpose on earth) You have placed deep inside of them?”
God has given us authority over anything that is out of alignment with the heavens, such as fear, strife, unbelief, anger, anxiety, or doubt. If it is not in heaven, you have authority over it. Rise up, speak to the anger, fear, and unbelief, and say, “NO MORE.” Break up with those nagging thoughts that are like flies swarming around us when we are worn out, tired, or weary. You don’t have to put up with them – deal with them. My bathroom mirror reads, “Stop the nonsense,” meaning I do not cross the mental line and partner with those words. I live by faith, not circumstances.
He is such a good Father. Sometimes what feels like rejection is actually protection. If your mind does not understand, declare, “Father, I trust You.”
I hate that many people have been duped! They think that the fear they feel is real. If only they could see it for what it is – a smoke screen from the enemy to get you to partner with letting go of the goodness of God. Satan can’t alter the finished work of the Cross, nor can he change God’s love for you, so he strives to make YOU believe something else which diminishes your experience with the Cross and His love. But it is just all a big lie! “I can’t trust God,” “I am afraid of the unknown,” “What if I can’t handle what He tells me,” “I will be out of control,” “I am afraid I won’t hear right,” “I am afraid that I will lose my family,” “I am afraid that…” on and on!
This is perhaps one of the most fascinating things about God and mankind. He knows what parents/leaders need and lack, so He sends children/people who carry it better than they do. Yet often times parents/leaders use their authority to protect that part of them that needs to come into alignment instead of allowing God to yield their heart through that person. They build walls, shut doors and disempower the very person God sent to BLESS them. The nature of conflict does not disqualify a person. Often times the conflict is just revealing something isn’t in alignment, and God wants to parent the area the conflict is revealing. It is what you do with the conflict that is God’s desire and plan for your life. Your areas of greatest conflict with a child/person could very well be the area God sent that person to touch in you so that it can come into alignment. Disempowerment and control kill the process for all parties.
Do you have an issue with hurtful words (and tones) in your family? Try this teaching exercise.
Teach Proverbs 15:1. Get a really fancy plate at the thrift store. Speak in a soft, gentle tone and explain to the children the dish is like a person’s heart and how careful we need to be with it. When they least expect it say something hurtful in a sharp tone and smash the plate to the ground (this works great in the garage on a tarp). They will be shocked that you just did that. Begin to put the pieces back together again but show them that you can’t. Share with them that once our words are spoken, we can’t take them back, and sometimes we say things in a way that hurts their heart. Another great way to do it is with a tube of toothpaste. Have the kids squeeze it out on wax paper. After a few moments of fun, ask them in a serious tone to put the toothpaste back in the tube. No matter how hard they try, they won’t be able to. Explain that the tube is like their mouth, and we have to be careful what comes out because we can’t put it back in.
**Obviously, there is always forgiveness, and God is faithful to clean up our mistakes and messes when we ask for help, but this teaching focuses on teaching children to be wise with their words. In the days ahead, when you hear them speaking to one another in a harsh tone, ask them if they want to deal with the mess their tone will create if they continue. Chances are, if they aren’t able to change, it could be that their tone is revealing a deeper hurt between siblings that need to be addressed.
This lesson was taken from our Character Counts SOAR parenting magazine. If you are interested in more activities, you can purchase your digital copy here: Character Training SOAR Magazine – Let the Children Fly
I had to take a moment to process my heart in the midst of so much movement. I began to feel good about all that I have been able to accomplish in a short amount of time between packing, cleaning, selling items, arranging details, canceling utilities, securing housing, saying goodbyes, homeschooling, and on and on. I stopped myself from saying aloud, “I am a ROCKSTAR!”. I saw a mental picture of how weary and exhausted I was earlier in the week, and I heard God say, “No, I AM,” and I began to cry. Oh yes, yes, yes. It is YOU who gave me the grace and strength to accomplish all that I am able to accomplish. It is YOU who showed up in my weakness and made me strong. It is YOU who sustained me with Your power to end well. It is YOU who never left me. It is YOU who walked me through this part of my journey just like You have every other one. 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 – “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”