Sunday, October 5, 2014

Advice or what I wish I would have known sooner

Love wins.  It's messy and fraught with uncertainty and pain.  It doesn't look neat and tidy. There aren't a list of rules or formulas by which to live.

When my kids were young, my primary focus was making sure they were doing their chores and behaving well.  If one or the other wasn't happening according to MY plan, MY timeline, MY agenda, MY expectations, then there was some sort of consequence.  Granted, I thought that those things were really God's plan, timeline, agenda, and expectations; but the truth is they were all designed to keep me ok inside.  I mean, I didn't want to fail as a parent and I didn't want my children to be ax murderers (or worse), so I had to make sure I was carefully watching and correcting every. single. mistake.

I once heard Sally Clarkson tell a story about a young mom who came to her very distraught because she couldn't get her two-year-old daughter to obey her.  Every time she asked her to go wash her daughter to go wash hands, her daughter wouldn't (or didn't) obey.  So the mom would reprimand and discipline her daughter and tell her to go wash her hands again.  Apparently the daughter was not very compliant as the mom was asking Sally for help to get her to obey the first time, every time.

Sally lovingly showed the mom that the best way to handle a two-year-old is with lots of love and affection, kissing the little hands and face that need washing, and with lots of hugs and snuggles and "I love yous" go to the bathroom together to get those sweet little hands clean.

With chagrin, when I heard the story, I knew I had been that mom.  I was the one who was looking for immediate obedience and oftentimes becoming a harsh mama to enforce the rules and regulations of the house so that my children would obey.  Harshness and intimidation seemed to produce obedient children, and since that was, as I was given to understand, a most important result of correct parenting, I used it regularly.  And sadly, there's still some unrighteous fruit being born of those years of misguided methods.  Thankfully, God has opened my eyes and given me an increased awareness of what love looks like and how to be a loving parent, thereby showing me how to allow His healing to come into those damaged relationships.

Hearing Sally's story was a turning point for me.  I began to examine my parenting and adjusting as I became aware.  I read her books: Mission of Motherhood, Ministry of Motherhood, and Heartfelt Discipline.  Later I was introduced to other parenting books like Parenting with Love and Logic by Cline and Fay and Loving Our Kids on Purpose by Danny Silk.

I became increasingly aware of how little love I was demonstrating and how much fear was dominating my parenting: fear that I wouldn't train my kids well, fear that I wouldn't teach them what they need to know, fear that my mistakes and their mistakes would overpower the plans and purposes of God.  Sometimes that fear looked like love.  I wasn't a bad parent, I know.  I did lots of good things with and for my kids.  I didn't beat them or berate them.  But I didn't lavish love on them simply because I didn't know how.  I thought correcting them and letting them know what they needed to do better WAS loving, and there is place for that in love, but I was doing those things mostly out of FEAR of how their mistakes were going to affect me and not LOVE.

Today, I am a different parent, I hope.  I've turned my course towards one of developing relationships based on love instead of on rules, fear, and perfectionism.

So, what do I wish I would've known sooner?

How to dial down the fear and trust in God.  How to let His love be the source of my attitudes, intentions, and motivations.  How to really know that my mistakes would in no way derail God's love for my kids.  How to parent from a place of love instead of fear.

Now that I'm aware, I repent often (to God and to my kids) for my unloving, unrighteous attitudes, intentions, and motivations. I cry out to God for more grace and increased awareness of His love, allow Him to parent my heart, turn to Him moment by moment.

I have a messy house since love moved in.  Chores aren't always assigned which means they aren't usually done; rooms aren't always picked up.  The dust is getting thicker by the minute, and my kids aren't obeying the first time every time. I'm on a steep learning curve, and I've had to let go of a lot in order to focus my energies on this new way of living.

But love is happening.  Relationships are happening.  We are laughing and enjoying one another more.  We are learning what loving responses look like and how to stop the unloving ones.  And in the process, hearts are mending, love is flowing, and I am letting go of control and trusting God more each day.

1 Peter 4:8 "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins"


  1. I had to go through this process, too. So familiar! Thank you for the encouraging words. :)

    1.'s always there, just different seasons bring different ones :-) And you're welcome!