Sunday, July 28, 2013

taking root

As a parent, do you ever feel that what you are trying to instill in your children is going in one ear and right out the other?  I do.  It can be discouraging and disheartening.  We want to raise kids with godly character, ones who are responsible, servant-hearted, grateful, Spirit-filled, and Spirit-led.  And sometimes, the evidence around us contradicts these desires and values.  In our household, we have been in need of some attitude and behavioral adjustments these past few weeks.  I've talked with a couple of other moms recently, and I have felt comforted to know that I wasn't the only one in this same boat.

I think some of this stems from the fact that it is summer.  This season offers less structure, more free and play time, activity-packed schedules, later bedtimes, and more time together under one roof to get on each others nerves.  In our family, we are also approaching a season of transition- moving in a month, and the kids return to public school this fall.  While these aren't necessarily negative transitions, they are changes that bring about a mixture of excitement, anxiety, and an element of the "unknown" in little ones.  And because kids don't always know how to attach words to their feelings, these feelings are often manifested through their "acting out."

We've had some issues with our oldest.  He is your typical firstborn: natural leader, the third (unwanted) parent of the house, the "know-it-all."  While he is sensitive, smart, witty, and full of life and energy...he is also our debater, likes to have the last word, struggles with impulsivity, and argues/questions our authority.  This can be an exhausting, relentless battle.  It has made me anxious for the challenges that may arise once he is in a traditional public school classroom again.  We've already begun praying over these things.

When my oldest was dedicated at church as a baby, there was divine reason they assigned him this life verse:

"Let love and faithfulness never leave you.  Bind them around your neck and write them on the tablet of your heart.  Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man."
Proverbs 3:3-4

While this is a verse he has committed to memory and we have recited numerous times together before bedtime, it wasn't until recently that I began to specifically and intentionally pray this verse over him.  Isn't this what we want for all of our children?  A life of love and faithfulness? God's favor and a good name?  Sometimes I will sit on the edge of his bed and watch him sleep at night.  I'll place my hand on his warm skin, right over his little heart, and pray aloud this verse, asking God to fill him with His love, faithfulness, and favor.

With my children's return to public school I have been diligent in praying that God would guard their hearts, fill them with a deep passion and conviction to follow after Him (over the ways of the world), and that they would choose to walk in the path of righteousness.  My son has been making a lot of bad choices lately.  Albeit minor and little ones, they are still disappointing.  He's the oldest and we expect him to set an example for the little ones around him.  Yet, he seems to be the one we keep having to remind and reprimand.  

More than any other desire I have for my kids, it is that they will have a deep knowledge, understanding of, and intimate relationship with the Lord.  I pray that God will soften their hearts to Him and His Word.  That His Holy Spirit within them will guide and convict.  That they will grow in wisdom and stature.  I want my children to be obedient.  I want them to make good choices.  But I don't want them to go through the motions or do this out of obligation.  Unless there is a desire and a conviction in their hearts to follow God and choose to walk in His ways,  there's no root to their faith.  I've been praying God fills them with this holy passion, desire, and conviction...especially in my oldest, where the struggle seems most evident.

The other day my son was showering as I was in the bathroom getting myself ready.  A conversation ensued between the shower curtain.  We were talking about a good friend who is battling cancer and the importance of praying for her.  My son said, "I already did pray for her just now in the shower."  Out of curiosity, I asked him what exactly did he pray?  He replied, "I said, 'Satan, you can't beat us! We have God and His strength!'"  I pondered this for quite a while.  I was a bit taken back at his reply.  For days, I had been praying and asking God for insight into how we could better reach my son and encourage him to make better choices.

Later that day, I approached my son again on this subject.   I thought his prayer was interesting and insightful for a boy his age. God gave me some insight into this as well. If my son could wrap his mind around the fact that Satan was using cancer to defeat our friend, then perhaps he could wrap his mind around the fact that Satan also tries to bring him defeat by persuading him to make bad choices and misbehave. And if my son could wrap his mind around the fact that our friend has God and God gives her strength and can help her overcome her battle with cancer and win victory over it, then maybe he could wrap his mind around the fact that God can give him strength too to make good decisions and win victory over Satan when he chooses to make good decisions and behave well.

I told him that every time he misbehaves and makes a poor choice, he is letting Satan win and have a victory. He's a typical boy. He likes to win. He likes to battle. Boys have that natural warrior instinct within them. I explained to him that when we can't get along with our siblings or our family members, when we are disrespectful to people and property, we are letting Satan win over our hearts and our household. But that God placed His Holy Spirit in us to guide and strengthen us. That he had all he needed right within him, the power of God, to choose to do the right thing and to defeat Satan. I don't know if he had linked his misbehavior to Satan before. Obviously, he knew that God wants him to obey and behave himself...but I think bringing in the concept of Satan trying to defeat him made sense to him and might spur him on to make better choices...just for the sake of defeating Satan and not letting him win.

Moments after we tucked our son into bed last night, he trotted back down the stairs and asked us if we could pray with him.  He was having trouble falling asleep.  Normally, we willingly do this.  But last night, I am thankful that my husband took the time to talk this out with him.  He encouraged my son to be the one to pray and showed him again how he could do this on his own.  So he did.  He prayed right there in front of us on the couch.  Often his prayers typically list off all of the things he is grateful for, but my husband encouraged him to go to God with all of his needs and concerns too.  To talk to God like he was having a conversation with his daddy.  To bring Him his deepest desires and requests. Afterwards, it opened up a door of opportunity and great dialogue in regards to other spiritual matters.  Our son wanted to know how we can hear God's voice.  What it sounds like?  When does it happen?  How do you know it's God?  What do you do to hear God's voice?  In these unexpected late night moments of deep conversation, after days of feeling that we were falling short and weren't doing a good job as parents, God gave as a glimpse and a confirmation that He is behind the scenes working in our son's heart.  That our prayers are being heard and answered, and that perhaps some of the things we are trying to teach and instill, are indeed beginning to take root.

1 comment:

  1. With this kind of effort you and your husband are putting forth for your son (and the other kids), the odds are very good that you are going to raise stellar young men and women for the Lord! Great job.

    I like your positive, spiritual spirit that comes through in your blog.