Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The "How" Is Harder Than The "What"

Then one day like the beautiful sound of a solo trumpet, The Lord brought to my attention I Cor. 13:1 "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal." Say what? I do love my kids I wanted to defend, but I knew The Lord knew better than me. He showed me how my daily irritations toward the kids, the impatience in my voice, my frustration over their carelessnesses, my furrowed brow when they are misbehaving, my harsh voice when correcting them sounded out like a cornet playing a soprano solo, "I only love you when you are doing right, the right way at the right time." OH MY!!!!!! So often the tendency is to get discouraged when God so kindly shows us how messed up we are; but oh what kindness it is when He shows us now while we can change and repent before lasting damage is done. So for us we still sing and pray and memorize and read and instruct, but my desire and prayer is that God's love would flow through me like a mighty river flooding those around me.  Erica Lerisse- missionary to Haiti

The above quote was part of a facebook post by a missionary to Haiti. Her family (including six young children) lives in the Dominican Republic and serves the people there and in Haiti. 

In the beginning of her post, Erica was talking about how she spends so much time trying to teach her children the Bible and Bible principles and how to treat each other and they still don't seem to get it. They fight and kick and hit (thank goodness it's not just at our house!) and then one day she realized she was part of the problem. 

Lately I've been memorizing a verse in James that applies directly to my mothering. James 1:20 says, "For the wrath of man worketh not the righteous of God." When I correct my children in anger or frustration I am not fulfilling God's design for me to bring them up in the "nurture and admonition of the Lord." (Ephesians 6:4)  

I am not going to bring about God's righteous results or His purposes through my uncontrolled emotions. When I react in anger to their sin I am sinning. That is not the righteousness of God. Not only do I have to teach them "what" to do I need to model "how" to do it also. The "how" is typically much harder than the "what." The "how" involves my attitude, my tone of voice, my words, and my intentions, not simply my actions. 

Our children are learning from us.  We are also learning from them. They show us weaknesses and flaws that we might have been able to ignore without them. Don't be discouraged! It's one of the beautiful, if painful, parts of motherhood! God uses our children to change us as He uses us to change them. 

Erica already told us how to win this battle of the "how" in our own actions. The most important thing for us as mothers is to be filled with God's love. Ephesians 3:19 says, "And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God." We have to have all of God to do even the simplest task.  When we know God's love for us we can be filled with God. 

I picture this like a teacup and saucer. I am the teacup and the people and life around me are the saucer. As I get filled up with God, then what splashes out onto others is godly, just as a teacup splashes whatever is in it on the saucer. What are you splashing onto those around you? When you are "bumped" by your children's misbehavior or messes what comes out? 

Do you erupt in anger and lash out? Or are you able to respond with patience and discipline appropriately? Do you roll your eyes and sigh at the work that's required of you or do you cheerfully tackle the tasks God has placed before you? Ultimately the work is designed by God; it doesn't originate from our children.

We must discipline our children and teach and train them. We can't do whatever anybody wants in the name of love but there is a difference in completing our work filled with God and struggling through our mess on our own. 

Don't feel discouraged when you've failed. We're all imperfect people and we always will be. Do be encouraged to keep seeking God's face and His wisdom for your work. God can change the way we respond to our children and our lives. And the answer is the same that it always is: get in the Word and let it change you. 

Just in case you really need to be reminded that you aren't alone check out these two blog posts that I found last week. Girltalkhome reminds us of the purpose of motherhood while Lisa-Jo Baker discusses ways to handle anger in your mothering

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