Resting in the quiet of the afternoon following a turbulent morning of peacemaking between Joseph (6), John (4), and Anna (2), I was cuddled up in my recliner chair. A heavy heart, jumbled mind, Bible, and notebook were my companions as my pen titled the page, “Thinking Right Thoughts When Discouraged and Worn Out by My Children’s Unkindness to Each Other.” Five “thoughts” soon filled the recently empty lines.
Number one: Every mother faces these same problems. Do you take any comfort in knowing my children fuss with each other? As I prayed about the situation, God reminded me every child is just like mine, and every mother must deal with the same things. None of us enjoys having children squabble. I need to change my mindset to expect the unkindness and be thrilled if any kind deed comes from them, rather than expect the kindness and be discouraged when it doesn’t happen.
Number two: God is developing my character as much as He is working in their lives. We say this often, but I have to keep telling it to myself. God is as much concerned with my learning to be patient, kind, loving, and gentle as He is in my children developing these qualities. What frequent opportunities He gives me to learn them, practice them, and even fail at them (thereby gaining humility and therefore God’s grace through my failures).
Number three: God is developing my faith, as I trust Him to do this work since I can’t myself. I can consistently train and teach my children. I can be an example to them, but it is God who works in their lives just as He works in mine. Therefore, my eyes must be on my Lord and my faith rooted in His working in their lives in His time. As a mother with both older and younger children I have proof of this as I have seen Nathan, Christopher, and Sarah develop more godly attitudes toward each other as they have grown up.
Number four: God is teaching me to rest in Him since my strength and will cannot bring it to pass. If I could, I would certainly force my children to have godly attitudes toward each other, and I do try. The truth is I can command some measure of outward conformity to the standard, but I cannot change a selfish heart. God is the One who does that, but He wants me to rest in Him as I wait for His timing. I can even trust that through the bickering He is working good in my life and theirs. We have talked about developing character in my life, but even the child who is being wronged in a disagreement is growing in character through it.
Number five: My greatest goal–even more than my goal to have a peaceful home and loving children–needs to be to teach my children to love God. Often the squabbles in our home make me focus more on peace and quiet than on the goal of turning my children’s hearts toward loving their heavenly Father. As we focus on loving God, certainly a by-product of that, in time, will be children who have servant’s hearts and are willing to give up their rights.
I find I can get so overpowered by thoughts and feelings of discouragement that I have to sit down and write truth out, like I did here, to bring my perspective back where it should be. Then I have to control my mind to think the truth when situations arise that trigger discouragement. In the midst of the emotions it is hard for me to do.
Usually, the change in thinking comes when I get down on my knees, cry out to God for His forgiveness for my self-focus, and ask for His help in my thinking truth. I pray each of you will use these situations you face with your children to see the benefits He is working for both you and them.