Thursday, 22 November 2012

When Your Children are Driving You Nuts.

Jesus said, ‘Let the children come to me and do not hinder them ,for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these”. Matthew 19:14. 

I never realized this verse could be so powerful. I mean, I realize it’s the word of God and so it should be powerful, but for this verse to have such a huge impact on me - that was the shock! This is what He taught me about my own life.

It all started a few years ago. It was Sunday morning, I was in the kitchen, trying to do breakfast and get everyone ready to attend our local church. Things were not going smoothly, our kids were young, we were running late and I was not handling it in a godly manner. In my anger and frustration at my children I prayed, “God help!” Of course, I was meaning them not me. I didn't need fixing this morning as far as my brain was concerned. Ha! I had not as yet read 

Proverbs 16:2 “All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the LORD”

And that is exactly what He did. He weighed my motives and found them wanting. Myself? All I could see was innocence.

I was standing by the stove when it happened. That small voice, speaking quietly over the top of my raging.

“Let the children come to me and do not stop them”

I was instantly frozen in time. The conviction so real I could not move. Jesus wanted the children to come, I wanted the children to go. I was the opposite. I was pushing them away with my rage, with my frustration. I’d put getting to church on time above, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and self-control. Like I have said, there was nothing godly in my behaviour that morning.

Humbled I went to church, only to have that verse read to me during the service, ironically as I was getting annoyed at my children interrupting me during the service with small requests. “I'm trying to worship here!” I was screaming in my head at them. “Leave me alone!” Don’t get me wrong, children do need to learn how to treat the service with respect but that wasn't the issue here. It was an issue of my heart. I was the one spewing the filth. The pus. The vomit. 

Matthew 12:34b “ For whatever is in your heart, determines what you will say”.

That afternoon, I repented before God of my sin and evilness. I confessed I was stressed when my children were near me, and wanted my time and attention. I confessed they were driving me nuts and I wanted space. I confessed all I wanted was to be left alone a lot of the time. That I used the TV and the neighbours and play dates and school to hold my children at arms length. That I prioritised myself before them in an out of balance kind of way. 

He began to show me how I did it with words too.
 “I can’t wait for the holidays to end and the kids to go back to school”. 
 “Anyone want my kids? They’re driving me nuts!” 
 “Play date? Yes! Anything for some peace and quiet” 
“Can’t wait till we can send them on an SU camp for the school holidays”. 

What I considered was normal comments to make about my children was really the result of my brokenness. Subtly, sometimes not so subtly, consistently I was giving them the message that they were not cherished in a way that they ought to be. The way God cherishes me. The way God cherishes them.

Am I saying that as a Mother, I don’t need time alone? No. That is not the issue here. Everything must be in balance. This is about what was going on in my heart. My attitude was not always one of love and cherishing and wanting them near me.

These last holidays, while camping with family, my husband told me of how he’d heard a leading child psychologist on Focus on the Family, talk about peer pressure. He’d said that children bond to their peers more strongly than their parents when they feel abandoned. Consequently they would then start listening more to their peers and wanting to spend more time with their peers than their family.  It was the first I’d heard about it. It wasn’t comfortable but it did make sense. Why were we having this conversation? Because we had a child rebelling about our family holiday because their preference was to stay home and play with their peers in the street. We agreed we had a problem that needed to be addressed.

Over the past few months, we have prayed consistently about this issue. Begging God to show us how to love and discipline our children in a manner that makes them know to the core of their souls, that they are loved, cherished and wanted by us. To show us how to repair the damage already done. He has given me two promises.

Malachi 4:2a,6 “But for you who revere my name, the son of righteousness will rise with healing in it’s wings. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers”. (I read Mother here as well). 

Isaiah 30:21 “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying this is the way; walk in it”

So am I perfect in this area? No way. But has He been faithful in changing me/us/our family? Yes. Drastically, and all for the good. Has it been easy? No. But it has been worth it. A new heart is always worth it.

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