Thursday, September 29, 2011

Parenting World Changers - What I'm Learning

If someone asked me, "What's your greatest insecurity?" I wouldn't have to think twice about my answer. "Parenting." The minute I start thinking, “Whew.  I’m getting the hang of this,” someone enters a new phase and I find myself scratching my head and hollering, “Jesus help me!”

There have been times in the past ten years where I have thrown my hands in the air and through tears told the Lord, "I'm not sure you chose the right woman.  I don't know if I can raise these precious kids well.  What if I mess up the one chance I have?"  

These moments of vulnerability and desperation have taught me to cling to Jesus and depend on Him as my source of strength and wisdom.  If this was the only benefit, it would be worth it all.  But He also uses these times to teach and equip me for the job He’s hand-picked me to do.

In our brood of children we have two peacemakers and two world changers. Within these general characterizations, they differ in how they see the world, how they receive instruction, and how they choose to assert their independence.

One of my World Changers has been testing boundaries intensely for the past month for no other reason than that she can.  It has been exhausting to continually correct, discipline and redirect, especially when the fruit of my labor is just more testing and button pushing.

In the past, I have reacted terribly to this testing which only adds to the chaotic mess.  This time around I have been connected to Jesus in such an intimate and beautiful way.  The Holy Spirit has enabled me to respond in love and godliness and it's amazing what a difference it makes. 

I keep being reminded of the Big Picture: two kingdoms, both powerful, warring for my World Changer.  She’s declared allegiance to Jesus Christ and Satan is doing everything to thwart her effectiveness.  Remembering this changes the way I approach discipline and training. 

I made a chart to remember the specifics of how this round of parenting was different to use as a resource the next time I find myself floundering. For those of you with your own World Changers, I hope the lessons I’ve learned (often the hard way) will encourage you on your parenting journey.

What I Normally Do
What the Spirit Has Been Helping Me Do
Allow my buttons to be pushed.
Ignore the button-pushing. (II Timothy 2:23)
Give in to anger.
Slow to anger. (James 1:19-20)
Lash out with my words.
Slow to speak. (James 1:19-20)
Bad mouth my child to make myself feel better.  I’m so ashamed that I’ve done this.
Bring my problems to Jesus.  Tell HIM how I’m feeling and roll my burdens to the foot of the cross. (I Peter 5:7)
Intentionally withhold love because my emotions are screaming everything BUT love.  I don’t feel loving, so I choose not to act in a loving way.
Follow the way of love.  It’s hard to go out of my way to be loving, especially in times of conflict, but I watch my kids soften in the light of Godly love. (I Corinthians 14:1) 
Give in because it’s easier.
Win.  Once the battle line has been drawn and I choose to enter in, I MUST persevere to the end and see it through to victory.  (Hebrews 12:1-3)
Ignore behavior that needs to be corrected because it’s easier.
Be consistent in discipline and training, even when it’s utterly exhausting. (Ephesians 6:4)
Live in defeat because I’m not seeing immediate results.
Embrace the Big Picture.  I’m TRAINING my children and training doesn’t happen overnight.  It’s a gradual process of learning and practicing what is being learned. (I Thessalonians 2:11-12)
Deal only with the symptom and ignore the source of the problem.
Listen.  To what’s being said and even more importantly, what’s not being said.  Ask questions.  WHY this behavior?  WHAT is triggering this problem?  Ask God for insight and for wisdom.  Then deal with the underlying problem as I’m addressing the behavior.  (James 1:5)
Try to push through on my own strength and wisdom (or lack thereof).
Pray.  In desperation, seek help from God.   His way is always best, and He promises to give me everything I need for life and godliness.  (II Peter 1:3)
Hole up.  Isolate myself and my struggles.
Rally the troops.  I have a small circle of friends that know each of my kids well and love them in their entirety – good and bad.  When I’m struggling with parenting, I rally the troops and ask them to pray specifically for me and for my child.  It’s amazing how this takes the pressure off everyone.  I can say, “Guess what?  We’re not alone in this.  We have a team of cheerleaders rooting for us and praying for victory for us.  Isn’t that great?” (Hebrews 10:24)
Forget to say “Good job.”
Go out of my way to catch my kiddo succeeding.  When I catch them succeeding, praising their efforts.  (Hebrews 3:13)

So there you have it.  I’m again reminded of how we need each other and Jesus to do life well.  Happy parenting!

1 comment:

  1. Great post, Jodi. I needed to hear all this today, so thanks for laying it all out. You're a great mom with a godly heart, and your children will rise up and call you blessed. Have a great day! - Faith