Last week, my darling six year old came bounding into the bathroom where I was getting ready to go to work. He pulled me down to his level, put his palms on either side of my face and sweetly asked….”mommy, will you look this beautiful when you pick us up from school later?” Ooooh….melt. my. heart. Truly did he just say that? Oh these little men that are growing up so quickly. How long will these precious words continue? I have an 8 and 9 year old that still love to cuddle in at night and listen to me read another tale of Narnia to them. They still give sloppy kisses and smothering hugs and love me with gusto. These present times prove His faithfulness, mercy, and grace heal us and strengthen our broken hearts.
There was a time when Samuel and Elijah were very little that I remember, with great disappointment, my “parenting style.” I maintained obedience by spanking or punishment. I lived mostly overwhelmed and as a result yelled. Often. A lot. Loudly. How embarrasing…..no, humbling to remember these beginnings. Judah entered the scene in 2008….as did Danny Silk’s book “Loving Our Kids on Purpose”. God used Danny Silk to write a book that has forever changed me. He writes, “They work to set their child on a path back to a good student position by communicating their disappointment (and often their anger) and giving instructions on how to behave better……it never really addresses the heart issues that lead to mistakes in the first place, and it doesn’t help parents stay aware of their own hearts.” I read this book, and became so aware of my own heart….and how very unlike God’s heart it was. God does not punish. He does not yell. He does not look harshly upon us. Its His kindness that draws us, blesses us, comforts us, heals us. Oh how GOOD His heart is towards us. I’m thankful this book hit the shelves when it did. I love this line from his book, “When love and freedom replace punishment and fear as the motivating forces in the relationship between parent and child, the quality of life improves dramatically for all involved. They feel safe with each other, and the anxiety that created distance in the relationships is chased away by the sense of love, honor, and value for one another.” I am not saying I am now a perfect parent. I am extremely aware of my heart, my attitude, my tone of voice, and how often I fall short of the mark.
I am staring at “the teen years”…..and they are staring back.They have approached far too quickly. I’m not there, mind you. But I feel the weight of their impending presence….and the question begs how will I manage my heart through it all. Samuel. My sweet Sam. Last January through June tested us all. Tested our resolve to love, honor, and cherish each other. My Sam started becoming more aggressive, more angry, more grumpy and he’d shout at us. He’d become enraged. It scared me because I have always wanted to live in peace. I want home to be my haven, my safe place. And this not-even-a-teenager-yet threatened this. Surely I have control of my own home, yes? No. I have control of me. Period. I cannot “control” another person and be like Jesus. If I control the people in my home I am either dominating or manipulating, and Jesus was neither. So what do I do with Samuel? Oh thank you Jesus, for walking with us through that time. There were so many amazing conversations that arose during that time frame. Through loving him unconditionally, honoring the amazing young man he is becoming, and speaking words of life and truth to him….he is learning to manage his heart and handle his loopy emotions. He will tell me when he “needs a minute to himself.” He will take himself out of a heated situation before he “loses it”. Of course, we still have many conversations and daily reminders. But I’m so thankful for God’s help.
There’s a line in his book, “We will not be able to introduce our children to the kingdom of God if that Kingdom is not manifesting in our own lives.” We must be changed. He must change us. Our kids will not love Jesus if we say He lives in our heart and yet what is coming out of our heart is anger, control, and fear. I’m thankful the Lord led me to this book when He did. I don’t know how the teenage years will roll out. This is brand new territory to me. My resolve is to do whatever it takes to stay connected to their hearts. I don’t know all the details, but each day I will pray for grace and wisdom and His endearing Presence. I know He is with me. A couple weeks ago (before daylight savings), Judah came downstairs before I’d turned most of the lights on. It was quite dark and he grabbed my hand and pulled me into the kitchen. With all the drama and flair he could muster he declared, “YEP!! You’re still as beautiful as ever!!!” Of course I picked him up and crushed him with a mama bear hug…… But I thought about that hug all the way to work and knew WHO was behind all that love and flair…..and thanked God for packaging it up and sending it to me in my little boy. And for surprising me with His precious reminders when I least expect it.