Monday, August 2, 2010

The Key to Patience

The first lesson I'll share is not the first parenting lesson God taught me, but one that has become essential to me. That lesson is how to have patience in parenting my children, the key to which is understanding my place as a fellow sinner.

Over the last several months I have prayed continually for God to show me how to love better and more effectively. What I thought I was asking for was for God to show me ways to love others - what gifts to give them, when to send a word of encouragement, etc. What He has been teaching me instead is that when I have an appropriate view of my self, as a sinner and as being completely forgiven, I will change the way I percieve and respond to others, becoming more loving in my thoughts and actions.

In 1 Timothy, Paul, the greatest New Testament missionary and evangelist, calls himself the chief of sinners. I never understood that, until I began to grow closer to God. It's like having a flashlight in a dark room. In a room with no other light, the flashlight looks bright and illuminates some things. But if you take that flashlight outside on a sunny day, the only light you see from it is by looking at the bulb itself. When you begin to see yourself in the light of God's holiness, the light you thought you had on your own fades into almost non-existence.

So what does this have to do with patient parenting? As I began to see myself as a "chief of sinners," I became more and more grateful for the grace and forgiveness God has poured out on me. And I began to see my children as fellow sinners. They weren't doing anything to intentionally antagonize me or hurt my feelings, they were simply behaving in the way any human does in a fallen world with fleshly desires. Just like me. So, if they're not doing anything I haven't done (all sin is rooted in disobedience, and I've been that plenty), then why should I not deal with them with patience? That doesn't mean that I don't consequence them, after all, God consequences us for our sins, but it changes the manner in which I do so.

Ephesians 4:25-27 says: Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. "In your anger do not sin"[a]: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. What this means for me as a mom is that I am not to discipline my children in anger (no yelling, no mad face, no acting while the fire of being disobeyed is still in my belly), then I sin.

I believe this is one of the most difficult challenges for parents: to remove emotions from the disciplining process. But, it is essential for effective parenting. Especially if we want to raise our children to have faith in the one true God. We are the role model for God as parent. What they see in us, they will relate to God (especially if we claim faith in Him.) Therefore, I must ask myself every day whether I am being a good ambassador for Christ in the way I am parenting. I am not perfect, and I do not always do it the way I know I should. But, thanks be to God! He gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:57)

No comments:

Post a Comment