Being Confident of This

Grace for the work-in-progress woman

Work-in-Progress Parenting: Emotional Children

Last night, our second-born, strong-willed, ball-of-energy-and-strength-and-passion son was showing me a few of his latest “tricks.” I watched somewhat half-heartedly and made the typical distracted mom comments such as “Wow!” or “That’s crazy!” or “How do you DO that?” until he made this horrible grimace. He effectively described it as “putting pressure” on his face. I happened to notice that it looked a lot like his typical angry face. ūüôā

Curious, I asked him why he would do that – put pressure on his face. He matter-of-factly explained that it helps him get his anger out when he’s frustrated or feeling angry. Then he showed me another of his typical angry poses (fisted hands clenched tightly at his sides) and told me that putting pressure on his body helps him get anger out, too. Once he was done with the demonstration, he sauntered away, like it was no big deal for a seven-year-old to have such knowledge of his own emotions and body.
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I sat there stunned. ¬†Not because our son is so intelligent, although he truly is, but because a posture that I tend to “read” as angry disrespect ¬†or rebellion was, in fact, the complete opposite of what I had assumed. ¬†His tense posture was actually an attempt at self-control! ¬†And here I had been scolding him to “have a better attitude” whenever the “pressure” face and those “pressure”¬†hands appeared.

He understood his own emotions (and boy, does he have b-i-g ones) better than I sometimes understand my own.  He was learning self-control methods that work for him, without any help from me.

The conversation reminded me that even though I have now logged over thirteen years of parenting experience, I don’t know it all. ¬†In fact, I never will! Each child is created uniquely and requires unique parenting, a truth I tend to forget.

What I perceived as defiance or disrespect was the most self-controlled, respectful thing my son was capable of in his angry moments.

parenting emotional children

I hope I never again tell him to change his attitude when I see the “pressure face.” ¬†I hope I remember that he’s making a greater effort than I ever realized and applaud him for maintaining self-control in the face of anger. ¬†He has come so far in the area of emotions and self-control in the last few years, and I’m so quick to forget that in a heated moment! I’m so quick to forget that he, too, is a work-in-progress, just like his siblings, just like his parents, just like every other human on the face of the earth.

It wasn’t a proud moment for me, rather it was a thank-you-Lord moment. ¬†I couldn’t take credit for his heart changes; in fact, I was unintentionally discouraging some of the progress he was making. ¬†But God can take credit. ¬†Because our little boy who is so quickly growing into a young man accepted the free gift of salvation a year or so ago. ¬†And in a week, he’ll publicly proclaim his son-ship in Christ before family and friends as he wades into the baptismal waters.

I see the work the Lord is doing in his young heart and mind already. ¬†Even though our son’s passion and energy often cause trouble for him, I have faith that someday he will use those gifts to be a great leader and a bold truth-teller.

What faithfulness on the Lord’s behalf!

My sisters in Christ, when you find yourself in the midst of a season of seeming lack of progress, take heart. ¬†Continue to follow the Lord in your parenting, and wait to see what happens. Pray for their little hearts and minds to open to the Father’s touch.

Look for progress in the little things, the still, small moments. ¬†Remember who your child has been created to be. ¬†He’s created to be different than your other children and different even than you.

Take every opportunity to rejoice over the slightest step forward.

Because God knows what He’s doing. ¬†He created these children, these gifts, purposefully.

Only He can see where that purpose might lead them.

Jen ūüôā

As usual, you might find me linking with any of these lovely blogs.

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How to Love When You Feel Unloved

In the spirit of truth-sharing, I’ll tell you that being the wife I am called to be is my weak area, my Achilles heel. I never feel so much like Paul in Romans 7, battling with the flesh, as when marital issues arise. How can I love my husband when I myself feel so unloved? Often Satan and sin have me so ensnared that I even become confused as to what “right” really is.
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Lately I’ve been reminded of this weakness as our marriage is under extra strain. ¬†I could make excuses. ¬†Truthfully, the pressure just brings forth what is already there, lurking beneath the surface, waiting for the perfect opportunity to rise up. ¬†Like many married couples, we tend to get caught up in the cycle of an argument that’s been played out time and time again. ¬†And that can be so frustrating! ¬†Revisiting those same issues makes us feel like failures, trapped by the past, stalled in our progress.

marriage, troubled marriage, feeling unloved, encouragement for marriage

But I’m not satisfied with a marriage that’s merely okay, and I mean that in the best of ways, I really do. ¬†I desperately want to grow ever closer to the type of intimacy God intended for us ¬†to experience as man and wife. I don’t want to be fatalistic or resigned in my outlook, even though I may feel that way at times. ¬†Because if I settle for “this is as good as it gets,” then where is my hope in the God who transforms souls, including my own?

Marriage is hard work, just like parenting is hard work.  If it were easy, we would not be challenged to grow!  Marriage teaches me things about myself that I loathe: how selfish I am, how easily offended, how weak and needy.  But unless I see the truth of where I stand, what chance do I have to move on from that spot?

By far the most difficult times in our marriage occur when we are both bearing unusual burdens that slowly wear us down, burdens like extended illness, or financial stress, or parenting issues, or major decisions, or unpredictable catastrophes. ¬†We’re both weak. ¬†We’re both worn and frayed. ¬†We’re both longing for rest. ¬†¬†You’ve been there before, I’m sure – those times in life when you both feel like you need a good long vacation from reality. ¬†ūüôā

As much as I’d like to blame our marital strife on my husband’s inadequacies, I know the issues at hand aren’t his alone. ¬†We’re called to be sacrificial in our love for one another, but when I’m already at the end of my rope, I often feel there is nothing left to give. ¬† I become selfish; I withhold kindness. ¬†I justify. ¬†How can I lift my husband up when I can barely lift myself up, Father?

Sacrificial Love, marriage, how to love, feeling unloved, hope

I have a feeling I’m not alone in this, this desire we wives have to be rescued by our husbands when the going gets tough. ¬†This desire to have men of strength come charging in to save the day. This desire to let ourselves be the weak ones for once. ¬†This desire to feel protected and cherished and cared for. ¬†Because for all of our outward strength (and we mamas are masters of disguise), we often harbor needs that remain hidden.

The problem is that in wishing my husband would take on that role of Rescuer, I’m asking him to fill a space only our Father God can truly fill. ¬† When I ask him to fill up that empty space, I’m asking to be disappointed. ¬†My husband is imperfect. ¬†Sometimes he lets me down, as I do him. ¬†Sometimes he needs a Rescuer just as I do. ¬†Sometimes he is weak. ¬†He is only human after all. ¬†My desire for him to be what even I cannot is quite unfair, isn’t it?

I’ll be honest. As a busy mom of four, I wrestle with this idea that God should be my sole supply. After all, God cannot help with the bedtime routine or sweep the kitchen or sign permissions slips or pay the bills, at least not in a physical sense. ¬†I wrestle, too, with feelings of disappointment and unkind thoughts toward a husband whom I truly wish to respect.

So, how can I demonstrate love for my husband even when he’s not demonstrating love for me? ¬†How do I overcome the seeming injustice so that I can be the wife after God that my heart desires to be? ¬†How can I be so filled with the Spirit, with the Father’s love for my husband, that I have a constant and abundant supply to give?

Honestly, I have no clear answers. I have only ideas, inklings of what it takes. ¬†Prayer would be a good start. ¬†Telling God where I’m really at, even if it’s ugly. ¬†Letting Him know how unfair it feels, how hurt I am, how afraid. ¬†Asking Him to bring light to the Enemy’s lies, lies about how it will never change, about how it never has changed, about how you’re stuck. ¬†They are Satan’s favorite lies. You’re trapped in this loveless marriage forever! He’s unfair! ¬†He doesn’t appreciate you!¬† You shouldn’t have to put up with this! (I think Satan might be the biggest drama queen of all.)

Fear versus Trust

Praying for supernatural intervention helps. ¬†God can change my husband’s heart, as well as my own, quicker than an hours-long “discussion.” ¬†He can give me a supernatural love for my man, something that is not naturally “in me.” ¬†He can help me see the truth in the situation and ¬†who my husband is in the Father’s eyes, a dearly beloved son.

The Father can melt my stubbornness, soothe my anger, hold my hurt, and forgive my sin, too.

He can remind me of how big my husband’s shoes are, how broad his shoulders. ¬†He can help me see clearly the load that often sits there and understand why my man sometimes stumbles beneath it.

When I see that truth, who my husband really, truly is at heart, I’m overwhelmed by compassion and ashamed by my traitorous thoughts. ¬†I may not feel any stronger. ¬†I still desperately need rescuing. ¬†I may even carry wounds from the wrestling. ¬†But at last I see that we two are the same: lonely, weary hearts in search of love and acceptance and a Rescuer.

You’re tired? ¬†Me, too. ¬†You want to escape from life right now? ¬†Me, too. ¬†You feel inadequate? ¬†Me, too. You hurt? ¬†Me, too.

Instead of being angry with my hubby for failing to rescue me, we can turn hand in hand to the Father, the One who rescues us both.

This is how we love, sisters, by gazing into the face of Love Himself.

Greater Love has no man than this…

And so we stand, my husband and I, in the face of Perfect Love.

Side by side.

Fear washed away.

Compassion in our eyes.

Forgiveness on our faces.

Wearing our Grace-colored glasses.

Because we serve the God of all Hope!

We’re merely works in progress here on Earth.

But we are not alone.

And this is not our home.

Jen ūüôā

When do you feel strain in your marriage the most?  How do you take it to the Lord?

You may find me linking up at any of these lovely places. ūüôā

You can find more great posts on marriage here:

For the Wife Who Doesn’t Feel Like Celebrating Love

6 Ways to Stir Up Love in a Difficult Marriage

Life in Grace

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The Power of Music

I love music. ¬†I love to sing it, I love to play it (when I have time), and I love to listen to it. ¬†I love all sorts of music, too. ¬†In our house you might hear contemporary christian, classical, broadway, oldies, big band, some jazz, a little country, a little rap. and even some of what my husband refers to as “love music” (think ballads!). ¬†By far my favorite music is the kind that speaks truth directly to my soul! ¬†You know what I’m talking about – those songs that are almost devastating in their truth and beauty.

Even my young, four-year-old daughter knows the power of music. I can no longer sing, “Rock-a-bye baby” to her because the melody makes her sad. ¬†On the other hand, my seven-year-old son likes ¬†enthusiastic jams from artists like TobyMac, not surprising since he’s our energetic one. ¬†When the kids are fighting with each other and just can’t seem to get along, a dance party to some great music goes a long way toward re-establishing their sibling¬†camaraderie. ¬†When nothing seems to be going right, I find solace in music.

Music is powerful.

Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.  ~Victor Hugo

Music is an outburst of the soul ~ Frederick DeLuis

Psalms 95:1 – O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.

James 5:13 РIs any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.

In the scriptures we read about times of rejoicing, accompanied by music, and times of sorrow, accompanied by music. ¬† When David killed the Philistine giant, God’s people rejoiced through music. ¬†When King Saul struggled with sorrow and other emotions, David’s instrument soothed him. ¬†When Paul and Silas sat imprisoned, they sang songs of thankfulness and praise to the Lord. ¬†Music is for happy times, sad times, and all of those times in between. Praise the Lord for the incredible gift of music!

So today when my head and heart are full of so many different thoughts ¬†and emotions that I don’t even know where to begin, why not begin and end with a song?

Jen ūüôā

When do you turn to music?

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