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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Love Dare for Parents~Day 2

Father's, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.  ~Ephesians 6:4

When you truly love someone, two key attributes will show up on a regular basis:  patience and kindness.  In fact, many other characteristics of love are based upon these two attributes.  Patience is how love diffuses something negative; kindness is how love initiates something positive.  One takes in a deep breath, the other breathes out life.  As you know, raising a child requires an unlimited supply of both.  But today, we will focus on the first of these two essentials... patience.

Patience is when love chooses to "suffer long" for the greater good of another.  It is like an experienced farmer who knows that fruitful field only come if he is willing to endure the heat of the sun.  Patience is alike a wise builder who spend long hours slaving over blueprints, negotiating contracts, and overseeing supplies so his desired vision can become a reality.  Both the farmer and the builder must persist when they want to resist.  They must daily keep investing time and hard effort until they can celebrate the great harvest of the open house.

Likewise, being a loving parent requires a long supply of his amazing attribute.  You are cultivating and building up your children, and all your work and sacrifice will ultimately pay off.  But today requires your enduring patience.  It is something we all need but rarely delight in demonstrating.  Yet love invites us to exercise it frequently as parents.  And when we do, it brings maturity both to us and our children, as well as needed grace and peace in the midst of our problems.

Children have an amazing ability to test the level of their parents' patience by their tone, disobedience, irresponsibility, or any lack of respect.  Sometimes parents can feel so angry, they say or do things in the heat of the emotion that damage young hearts and minds.  The impact can leave a deep and lasting emotional scar for many years to come.

This is why we find God's patience so exemplary.  When Moses was on the mountaintop, he discovered why God kept putting up with His rebellious, complaining children:  God was "compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in loving kindness" (Exodus 34:6).  He let His overflowing love control His anger.  Whenever He did choose to be angry and firm, it was only after multiple, extended demonstrations of His compassion and patience. 

Today, God is still gracious and patient with us as His children.  So when we are unlovable and selfish, distracted and disobedient, we need to remember His enduring love for us and let His example of love overflow onto us and our children.

We must refuse to spring off the handle in front of our offspring.  When they see us controlling our anger, it teaches them to control theirs.  The Scripture says, "Be angry, and yet do not sin."  (Ephesians 4:26)  Sometimes anger is appropriate, but we should never let it get out of bounds.  Discipline and correction must be wisely rationed, but only after we've first demonstrated loving patience. 

Do your children see you as an angry, frustrated parent?  Or would they describe you as compassionate and patient instead?  Love chooses restraint.  It controls your emotions rather than letting them control you.  It challenges you to develop a long fuse instead of igniting a short temper.  If you unnecessarily blow your top, it reminds you to humble yourself and quickly apologize, know much is at stake.

Wrath, on the hand, is cruel.  (Proverbs 27:4) It divides and isolates.  It weakens us and wounds others.  It causes us to behave in foolish, regrettable ways.  It almost never makes things better and usually generates additional problems.

If you struggle with anger, ask yourself why.  Are you expectations realistic?  Are you angry with someone else and taking it out on your kids?  You may harbor painful memories of a parent's harsh anger toward you when you were young.  But the pain doesn't need to be passed on to your children.

Sometimes anger is rooted in our own sin and hypocrisy.  We often get the most angry with our kids in the same areas where we ourselves are weak.  But overrating to wrongful actions and attitudes that are familiar to us doesn't do anything to "fix" us, and it only frustrates them.  That's where a humble confession may yield more effective instruction than the firm anger of your correction.  When they know you love them and can admit your own humanity, your counsel and training carry much more meaning.

Patience is always welcome.  It gives people more time to work through their issues.  It beautifully diffuses conflict before trouble has a chance to escalate.  It whispers peace into situations brewing toward eruption.  It's not a blanket form of tolerance that lets everything go, but rather a wise surveyor of the situation, allowing proper steps to be taken.

Parenting does call for action against carelessness and defiance.  But we must differentiate between true rebellion and what might be childish ignorance.  Our kids don't think like us; why do we expect them to act like us?  We must factor in the circumstances, their age, and their level of maturity.

So instead of rising up and tearing down, let love calm you down.  Then you can build them up.  The more patient you today, the more victories you can celebrate tomorrow.

 Write the words "Love is Patient" on a piece of paper and temporarily tape it to your mirror and refrigerator.  When you see it over the next few weeks, purpose to display patience throughout the day as a further demonstration of your love to your children."

-The Love Dare for Parents by Stephen and Alex Kendrick

When I was growing up and resided with my mother our home was filled with anger.  My mother use to call it her "red headed temper" I, on the other hand, had other names for it even as a small child.  My mother was quick to get angry, quick to yell, and quick to throw things in the house.  When the three of us kids, or anyone else for that matter, made her angry it would last for days, sometimes into weeks.  She was the Queen of giving us the cold shoulder.  I recall at a very young age when she use to say to us after getting mad, "I don't care what you do, do what you want."  

I remember hearing that statement from my mother more times than I could count growing up.  I recall it use to make me feel resentment towards her because I felt as if I then was put into a position to win her love back.  Somehow if I changed MY behavior towards her then she would care what I did again.  This pattern of not feeling loved has been carried with me throughout my entire life and in all my relationships, even to this day in one form or the other.

Growing up I use to say to myself and everyone else, "I was NOT going to be like my mother!"  I was not going to raise my kids the way she raised myself and my brothers, I was not going to talk to my kids the way she would and still does speak to us.  I was going to break that chain and give my kids more.  Being a mother now, going on 21 years, I would like to think I have done just that.  That I have accomplished all the things I set out NOT to do with my kids.  But the reality is when you live in a certain atmosphere, things just become a part of you no matter how hard you try to avoid it.

I am quick to anger, especially when I feel threatened in my life.  I am quick to show my frustration with my kids when they are not taking advantage of the chances they have in life, especially the chances I never had.  I am quick to allow my emotions, especially with my older boys and my hubby, to control me and run away with me.  I am not quilt free of any circumstances my own mother displayed to me as a child, but I can say that I have never taken them to the extreme she did.

The book asks you to ask yourself "Do your children see you as an angry, frustrated parent?  Or would they describe you as compassionate and patient instead?"   I truly think that my kids do see me as compassionate but know that when I am pushed to the end of my ledge about something that I am passionate about then the emotions can come out and they WILL be raw.  I have never in their lives, all 5 of them, ever told them I never cared about them or cared about what they did in life.  I have never washed my hands of my kids or their feelings.  

But I can see after reading this chapter that there are some areas that I need to improve in.  I need to do a better job at hearing my kids, especially the older ones, and taking in what they have to say.  I do not want my children to ever look back on their childhood and recall that their mother was a tyrant, and honestly I do not think they would.  But there are times when I am so tired, or so stressed that I might take my frustration of others out on them and this of course is NOT what I want for any of them.

"Love is Patient" is the best lesson for me and came today as a much needed reminder.  I must be more patient in all areas of my life and I must demonstrate this to my children so that they understand this too.  So many times in this face paced life we are all about instant gratification when really we should just be sitting back and finding the beauty in the moment.  So many times I have rushed decisions because I want the pain or anxiety it is causing me to be over, when really I should just be sitting quietly and waiting for the answers to come to me.  And of course I have to learn, after 41 years of life, how NOT to let my emotions run away with me and carry me into a darkness of the abyss.

I must allow love to calm me down so that I WILL have more victories to celebrate tomorrow.


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