The Truth that Will Change Our Parenting

2:47 PMHeather

Let me be clear about something.  Today's blog post is written by me, to me.  Yes, I am writing to myself.  Because today, I stumbled across something--an epiphany--that will literally change my parenting.  In fact, it will change my children.  It will change me. It will change my life and my peace of mind.  I don't think it's overselling it to say that it will change everything.  

Sad thing is that it's something I've known.  Something the Lord had convicted me of repeatedly, since I was a young mom.  Yet, like so many simple truths, it continues to get buried in the complexity of living a busy, information saturated, over competitive world.  Sorta like frustrating yourself by looking all over for your sunglasses--because you forgot they were on your head the whole time.


And I've been frustrating myself over here.  With the thousands of messages being sent my way every single day.  Messages from others, from schools, from social media, from media, from friends, from teachers, from every place imaginable.  Some are messages directly about my kids, some messages are indirectly about my kids, and some messages are general ones that I have personalized.  

My kids were not accepted into some school organization.  They didn't make the team.  They aren't tall enough.  They are too tall. They don't sit still long enough in class. They don't have good enough table manners.  They are doomed because they spend too much time in front of screens.  They are failures because I didn't do the "25 Things that Every Child Needs by the Teen Years."  They should have been on club sport teams.  They can't compete in sports because I let them quit.  They are behind because they aren't already in some elite such-and-such club.  They aren't as smart or clever or talented as that YouTube sensation that was also seen on The Ellen Show. They aren't as spiritual as that person's kids who just recited the entire book of Psalms on the video the mom posted on Facebook. They should be more like that kid who just raised $50,000 for children in Africa through a lemonade stand. They should get along better like the siblings who are best friends because their mom followed all the blog advice posted.

And so on and so forth.

Inundated with messages.  Of failure and comparison and negativity and criticism.  From all over the place.  Who falls for all that?  This girl. This perfectionist and people pleaser can be wound up in knots from it all.

And unfortunately, I often am.  

It's ridiculous.  Because I know better. Yet, I tend to carry the heaviness of these messages.

Today, I had my weekly meeting with three friends with whom I am studying 1 and 2 Peter from the New Testament.  One of the moms was talking about something that happened to her son when he was verbally bullied at school.  She was mad and upset and wound up.

I felt it.  I've been living there myself here lately.

Then, she said she had a revelation as she walked through Central Market.  She realized, while she was praying for her son, that she was upset because, basically, she believed the lies told to her son by his peer.  She bought into it, just like her son had.  

And she remembered something we had talked about last week.  When I had casually joked about a favorite saying I'd learned from a friend years back.  My friend had an older lady at church tell her that the frustration she was feeling as a mom of toddler boys was partly because she was receiving all these negative comments and criticisms and comparisons.  This sweet octogenarian Southern Belle coached my friend to respond like this to such messages:

"I do not receive that.  It's a lie from the pit of hell!"  

Yes, I had been told that freeing truth, learned that response, and have actually practiced it at times.  I've passed it on to many the girlfriend.  

Yet, here I am. I had fallen into that pit of hell myself again, falling for the trap of all the negative comments thrown my way.  Hook, line and sinker.  Forgetting to weigh the comments and criticisms with the plumb line of God's truth about myself and my family.  Forgetting the wisdom of prayerfully considering if there is any valid points requiring change or apologies...and then throwing all else out.

Refusing to receive them.  I have even rehearsed this at times with my kids.  Like when my then 6-year-old daughter was told by a friend that she was, "The meanest person in the whole world!"  And my girl fell apart.  So, I asked her if this was true?  Was she the meanest person in the whole world?  She sobbed a no between her tears.  Then I asked her if she had treated her friend in a mean way--was there anything she might need to change in her own behavior?  She considered this carefully.  I encouraged her to make the changes and apologize where needed.  And then, to remember when such comments are made that she does not have to receive them! She can dismiss them and move along.

Like so many truths of God's Word, I fall into spiritual amnesia.  I know what I'm called to do.  I know the truth that sets me free.  And I forget.  I let my natural inclinations kick in.  And for me, receiving criticism can become a very slippery slope.  Because I over think it.  I'm an overachiever and my own worst critic.  So, I allow any criticism--constructive or otherwise--to just choke me to death.  To steal my joy and fester and grow and condemn me.

And I allow it to cloud my perspective about myself and my children.  

Instead of continually reminding myself the freedom of not receiving lies, recognizing them for what they are, and speaking the TRUTH of our identity in Christ over myself and my children.  

My friend Amy painted the perfect word picture for this struggle.  She said it's like walking down a long hallway in life, where lies and deceits line the walls.  And we have to constantly be aware of not hanging those pictures up on the walls where they can repeatedly speak to us.  But instead, pulling them down--time and time and time again.

Telling ourselves, "I do not receive that!  That is a lie from the pit of hell!"  Reminding ourselves and our children instead who they are in Christ.

For we are wonderfully and fearfully made (Psalm 139).

God has plans and a purpose and good works for us to do (Jeremiah 29:11, Ephesians 2:10). 

We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us (Romans 8:37).

He sees our heart, not our outward appearance (1 Samuel 16:7) and we are set apart for his purposes.

We are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, belonging to the God of the Universe (1 Peter 2:9).

No matter what evil is intended against us, God can use it for good (Genesis 50:20).

His love for us has no end, and he will fulfill his purposes for us and he will never abandon us (Psalm 138:8).  

He is gracious and compassionate and slow to anger and rich in love toward us (Psalm 145:8).

He will contend with those who contend with me.  He will fight for our cause and we can let him be our defender (Isaiah 49:25)

We are dearly loved--not just tolerated--and he loves us so much that he preferred to die for us rather than live without us (Ephesians 5:1).

And a million more promises and truths which should become our mirror.  His Word is our plumb line and our faith is our shield whenever darts of criticism or deceits about our value and worth are thrown our way. We must remember to not give them power over us.

We should be on guard and alert, deflecting those things that are designed to pull us down, make us feel badly, question our worth, and deny us our value.  Man's opinion must be weighed against God's opinion.  And God's opinion of us trumps all else.

Yet, how easily we fall into the trap of believing false things about our kids.  How easily we measure our success as a parent and their success as a person with the standards of the world.  Their beauty, their popularity, their academic achievements, their athletic achievements, and on and on.  

How easily these insidious and subtle deceits creep in and we completely forget the truth that sets us free.  We are wound in the chains of criticism--from others or ourselves--and we walk around, tied in knots.  When all we must remember is the Truth.  And choose to not receive anything less.  Choose to call it out as it comes, and remember that which is a lie from the pit of hell, designed to defeat us.  

That we would rise up and speak the truth over ourselves and our children.  That we would boldly remind them always what the Bible has to say about us.  Teaching it to them as we walk down the road, day and night, as we sit and as we stand, as we go about our business (Deuteronomy 6:7)---continually teaching our children to see themselves only through the lens of who God says they are to him and to chase after God and not the opinion of man.

That we would quit being so spineless but would gather our strength and stand tall and stand firmly on the truth.  Tying God's commands and promises as a symbol on our hands and binding them on our foreheads and writing them on the door frames of our houses and our gates (Deuteronomy 6:8-9).  Praying against spiritual amnesia so that we can remember who we are, and who our children are to the God who loved them so much that he sent his only son to die for them.  

That we would speak this gospel identity continually and constantly to our children.  Literally writing it on mirrors or printing off Scripture to post around our house.  Praying these truths over our children--audibly as we tuck them in and send them out to the world.  Equipping them to not receive the lies and the criticisms and the deceit about them, but to recognize the lies from the pit of hell and immediately dismiss them.  

To walk out their identity as sons and daughters of God.  As saints who can rest in the salvation he brought us.  As students who study the word and obey it and hold each other to it.  As servants of the Most High God called to the greatness of serving others.  As stewards of the incredible gifts and talents that God has given each of us, sharing our time and giftedness and resources with those around us.  As sent ones--saved ones--who can swim long and hard in the ocean of God's grace and love and can engage others to do the same.

Oh, yes.  How he loves us.  Not because of our grade point average or extracurricular achievements or checklists we can conquer or approval by others.  Not because of what we do at all.  Ever. 

But because of what he did for us.  He calls us redeemed and precious and chosen.  Uniquely equipped to impact the world through the power of the TRUTH of who we are in Him.

Let's receive nothing less.  Let's quit believing anything less.  Anything less than that which God speaks over us, in chapter after chapter, throughout His written word. Allowing His truth to set us free from all the lies of the pit of hell.

Now, Warrior Mamas, when that lie comes your way, throw that hand on that hip and repeat after me..."I do not receive that!"

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