"Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him...Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them."
[Psalm 127: 3 & 5]
Knowing that "every good and perfect gift is from above" [James 1:17], there is no debating that God truly blessed me and many other parents when he gave us the perfect gift of our children. I have personally been blessed with a quiver full of them in all different "shapes and sizes", ages, shades of color, and personalities.
But although I am aware of the gift that God has given me with my children, there have been seasons in my life when at least one of my children seemed more to resemble a "thorn in my flesh", than a perfect gift from above. Can you relate to this same feeling?
There are times when our children's personalities and behaviors can seem so foreign to our understanding. During some of these seasons in life that I am relating to, that one child can just seem like they are constantly butting heads with you, and/or being disobedient and out of control; and it may seem that no matter how much talking you do, how much punishing you do, or how much you take away the things that he or she enjoys doing, nothing much changes. You are often left completely frustrated and stressed out.
"What am I going to do with this kid?!!!!!"
It is when we are at this point that we need to actually turn that question into, "What am I going to about ME? What can I change about ME?". I am of the belief that God allows our children to be born with personalities that are completely opposite of our own, or with special needs, that in fact require us to build our own characters and change who we are in order to be the best parent to that child for the benefit of him/her.
For me, I battled over a season of years with one of my children who held a character trait in complete antithesis to mine: sensitivity. She was a sensitive creature, and I was not; no room for gushy sensitive emotions for me. Sensitivity was something that I had struggled with for many years prior to ever becoming a mother. I can recall having conflicts with at least two of my very good buddies in college, because I felt they were "too sensitive". I did not understand why people had to seem so "emotional" and "weak"; toughen up and get some backbone. When I was in a friendship in which I was just at my wit's end with the person's tendencies to get "too sensitive", I would just as soon cut-off that relationship. I couldn't deal with it and thus, didn't really need it. Harsh, I know...but I am being straight-up and real with you.
Then the Lord blessed with a child that I loved with all my heart. A daughter that was flesh of my flesh and shared my genes; my cherished gift. AND...she was SENSITIVE! There were times when I'd be going through one of those tough seasons with her, our personalities butting heads, and I'd find myself speaking aloud to God, "Why would you give me, of all people, a sensitive child? You know that I cannot deal with sensitive people!" This situation was unique to my past struggles with this issue, however, because I could not just cut-off MY OWN CHILD. She was bound to me for dear life! So what was I going to do?
It took prayer and time, but I finally realized that my struggles required more of a work in me, FIRST, than a work in her. She was here in my life to push me to something higher and to mold and build my character (which was supposed to be reflecting that of Christ's more and more each day). There was obviously something in me that God needed to be "worked out" and reshaped; and my daughter and our struggles were being used as the conduit.
Since then, we have come a LONG way! And I am proud to say that my daughter actually has given me a "gold star" for coming around in the areas of gentleness and sensitivity. But that's just one little example. Perhaps you are dealing with a child that has a learning need that is different from all of your other children. "Mary" is a whiz at studies and barely requires any help with her homework, while "Jane" struggles through, breaks down with frustration, and requires more creative methods to truly absorb things. Sure, you are so proud of "Mary" and may boast in the fact that she's just such a blessed and smart girl. But it is through "Jane" that you are going to be "led" and blessed with being a greater parent and individual. Because "Jane's" situation and hope for a breakthrough is that which will require you to go beyond your limits, become more creative, and make a change in yourself (and your ways of thinking), first.
"If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?" [Matthew 5: 46-47]
Even though the scripture above is in reference to us loving our enemies, I have used the idea of it as I have parented my own children. If I am a good parent to those of my children who are good and easy to parent, what am I doing more than others (does that really make me such a good parent)? The real test of my parenting and character is in bringing success to that child, who at that time, is the "thorn in my flesh". You get me?
I speak from experience, and am a continuing work in progress as I am thrust into a new season of challenge with a different child, just when I graduate from a season with another and think it's about to be "all gravy" from there.
Let's allow our children to "lead us" into a greater characters, and we'll see greater changes within them!
"And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns." [Philippians 1:6 NLT]
A special thanks to Tai, Troi, Kaiser, Joshua and Ra for "leading" me to become a better person and for continually requiring me to build-up my character!