When my energetic little girl turned five, she came to sit with me in “big” church. I was optimistic, having explained thoroughly, I thought, how important it is to be still during the sermon. It began well – coloring, looking at books, and smiling in that adorable way that makes a mom’s heart melt.
Not long into the sermon, she gave up on the idea and began giggling, squirming, and dropping every crayon, one at a time. No matter how many warnings or diversions I tried, she would not sit still. After several exasperating corrections, she laughed, stood up, pulled her dress over her head, and started to dance in the pew! Oh, and did I mention that we were sitting way down at the front of the church?
I was humiliated, especially looking across the aisle at “Mrs. Perfect” with her Little Perfect sitting still. She stared and gave me a frown, and I know that I turned red. I turned to my daughter and whispered in anger, “That’s it, we are going home!” When I picked her up to carry her out of the church, she began to scream, “No, Mommy! Don’t beat me!” I thought I would die of humiliation right then and there. Of course I had never “beat” her, but she announced to the whole congregation that this was a possibility. Embarrassment became anger, and I told her so the whole drive home.
Later, she sat in the bath singing silly songs and being the adorable five year old that she was, and I knelt beside her. I remember clearly even to this day that the Lord spoke to me, “How many times have you disobeyed? How many times have you embarrassed my name? And yet I forgive with rivers of mercy and restore you.” My heart melted instantly. I was ashamed that I had let what others might be thinking become more important than patience and training of my little one. I scooped her up and hugged her tight, telling her we would try again next week.
There is a real temptation for parents to judge the behavior of their children by what the teacher writes, how other children act, or whatever ideal you have read in a parenting book. Good background information, but not necessarily an accurate judgement of what to expect of your child. Every child is as unique as a snowflake and just as wonderfully created.
The Apostle Paul prays for his loved ones to walk worthy. (Col. 1:10) Because kids are a work in progress – changing, learning, growing every day – our emphasis is on the walk. The Greek word used here is defined as to “make one’s way, progress; to make due use of opportunities.” Worthy we don’t really get, but walk in this context we do. It’s about prayer through the child’s journey of life.
Be patient in your prayers. Every child is the sinner described in Romans 3:23 “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”Don’t be discouraged when they fail or disobey, but be emboldened in your prayers, believing that the Lord will use every challenge to make your child stronger as you lead them to understand forgiveness, repentance, and trying again and again.
TODAY: When failure repeats, go to your journal and write out what you are feeling and pour out your heart before the Lord, thanking Him for the work He is doing in your child and that the Word of God is alive and powerful. He will meet you there with encouragement, and you will look back later with joy!
LASTLY: One of the most important prayers during adolescent years is that they will not waste opportunity, but will take every chance to learn more, give more, serve more, and work harder. Again, this is not an instant prayer, but it is a true one that will be answered. You just watch and see!
Pray for the overcoming of temptation by inserting your child’s name into
1 Corinthians 10:13:
The temptations in ________’_ life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than ________ can stand. When he/she is tempted He will provide a way out so that _______ will endure.