Thursday, January 14, 2010

Control...or lack there of...

First of all, I am going to go ahead and tell you this is therapy in motion, thinking out loud if you will...

To set the stage, let's explore what the actual definition is of control:

Control (verb)- a : to exercise restraining or directing influence over : regulate b : to have power over : rule

Ok, now that is established we can move forward. I have heard it a million times...control your laundry, control your eating, control your temper, control your spending, control yourself...control your children. I am sure you have heard these and much more.

See the trick is all things I listed above - there is one BIG one that I can not actually control. Children. I can try to "exercise restraint or have power over them" all day but I can not force them do something. I can make it mighty enticing for them to do as I ask or pretty ugly if they don't (bye bye phone and friends). But as to having control...well, I don't. I can not control Faith or Hunter to choose like minded friends to hang out with at school anymore than I can control Love choosing to use the potty. If you do have control of your children...would you leave me a comment with your tips and telephone number...we need to talk :)

What I have learned is that our relationship with our children is much like our relationship with God. He can want me to do something, tell me to do something, write it all down for me to do, make it really enticing to do it and pretty ugly if I don't and still I can choose not to do it. Ya know what I'm saying? He gave me a free well as my children. So control actually lies in the individual's court as to what they are going to do or not to do...are you following?

I think the biggest A-Ha moment I have gotten this morning amid the beauty of toddlers and teenagers applying their free will is this:

It isn't controlling my children that is my job. No where does it say "Control a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it" says:

Train up a child in the way he should go;even when he is old he will not depart from it.
—Proverbs 22:6

Now, let's look at the word train:

Train (verb) -2 : to direct the growth of (a plant) usually by bending, pruning, and tying3 a : to form by instruction, discipline, or drill b : to teach so as to make fit, qualified, or proficient4 : to make prepared (as by exercise) for a test of skill5 : to aim at an object or objective : direct

Now that sounds like something I can do. I can give instruction in order to teach so as to make fit or qualified, or proficient. I can direct the growth of a child by bending and pruning and tying...oh I am kidding about the tying :) I can teach them what things can bend - their interest, their friends, their decor, their taste in general. And I can teach them that which can not be bent - loving God and loving people, being respectful toward others and themselves, making choices and having attitudes that are loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle and self-controlled. And when things that do not produce fruit are born that is where the pruning comes in, right? The ending of a friendship, the redirection of an interest, a removal of certain music and such. Not by forcing their hand at home and have them want to pursue the choice anyway elsewhere. But, by discipling and disciplining...oh, now that is interesting - ever noticed how closely those two were spelled? Or, you could call it pruning. When the branch does not produce fruit or produces bad prune it. Speaking as one who continually needs works. It doesn't feel great at the time but it is effective. And you grow - a fresh new growth.

I have a clear instruction from the Lord:
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." Galatians 5:22-23

Not only is it an instruction from Him to me but from Him to me to teach my children and them to teach their children, etc... Not to control my children into acting out these things, but teaching them to want to do them, to strive to give the Lord our best by living in the Spirit. I am not saying we are hard, firm handed parents that rule with a golden mallet. I think there is just as much lack of training by trying not to rock the boat. By letting the little battles go...more and more often as not to stir the pot. I have been deceived into thinking I am picking my battles but truth be told - I am losing the energy to fight the battles some nights at 10 o'clock with a sink full of dirty dishes and laundry that should have been done yesterday and noticing we have no milk for in the morning. That is when I have to remember my strength comes from the Lord. He never once says that I have the strength to do it all - or even a small part of it. He tells me to lean on Him for my strength...especially when I am weary.

"The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song." Psalm 28:7

And just for the song would be a joyful noise. Y'all know I can't carry a tune in a bucket.

I don't know if this is a big flashing light to you but I think I just may have been more of a controlling type parent...ruling over and forcing them to try and see what is good and want to do it. I should have been teaching and preparing them instead. Mark down another big failure in the parenting department for me. The good news is isn't over. I still have the opportunity even beginning today to start a new and fresh. My past mistakes are just that- in the past and I can't change 'em. But I can turn around and go a new direction. All this time I have thought I was failing at raising these kiddos of mine by not having them completely under control when all I really needed was to understand I never will...but I can teach them.

"These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." Deut. 6:6-7

Did you know that the word impress is actually teach in KJV and NKJV of the Bible?

One last definition:

Teach (verb) -1 a : to cause to know something b : to cause to know how c : to accustom to some action or attitude d : to cause to know the disagreeable consequences of some action 2 : to guide the studies of3 : to impart the knowledge of 4 a : to instruct by precept, example, or experience b : to make known and accepted 5 : to conduct instruction regularly in

However, with the strength of the Lord and the proper new perspective...we may just have a new teacher in town...and her name is Momma ;)

One more thing...if this relationship with our kids is supposed to reflect the relationship we have with our Heavenly Father...I get it...or maybe just a glimpse into it. How He continues to love me even though I am a mess of a much I love my own kids through the good choices, the bad choices, the what-in-the-world were you thinking choices. And to know that He loves them and me even more that :) How great is our God?

1 comment:

Angie said...'re causing me to think tonight as I do tend to be one controlling parent. Ugh. Does this mean I have to start all over again and rethink parenting? I think I'm going to bed early tonight and I'll contemplate it tomorrow. :)