Today, I had a such an amazing victory with my son, Josiah. I have to share it with you all. My sister told me I should blog about it, so I decided to take her advice. Besides, I want my son to see this someday and know how God's hand was working in his life even at such a tender age.
This last month as been one of extreme testing. He's been working the system, if you know what I mean. As a parent, you think your doing good, being consistent, but then you get tired and let a couple of things go (without even realizing) and before you know it, you've got an all out war on your hands. We finally got a handle on it a couple of weeks ago. Things have been much better since, but I could tell he has been obeying simply because he doesn't want to get in trouble. I've been reading a book called, "Growing Kid's God's Way" and it is giving me a fresh perspective on parenting. I think I was actually trying too hard, doing and saying too much. Trying to tackle too many virtues and character issues at once. This month, we are working on lying. We picked a verse (Proverbs 12:22) and put in on the fridge. It will stay there all month for us to refer back to it. The idea is that it takes a month to kick a habit, and we're hoping that he will learn this virtue through and through by the end of the month.
Anyway, back to today. I was having him do his chores and we've been working on "First-Time Obedience" a principle in Growing Kid's God's Way. This is something I thought I was doing, but upon further self-examination, I realized I was still giving him too many chances because I was hoping he'd be successful. Since I've been working on this with both my kids, things have been going smoother, although there has been more conflict. Well today, I told him to clean his room. He kept getting distracted and I caught him playing with his Legos. He lied to me and told me he was just pushing them off to the side to clean his room. I told him I'd been standing there and don't lie to me. I told him he couldn't play with Legos for the rest of the day. Of course, here comes the freak out moment. I just shut the door to his room and walked away. He was in his room saying how horrible he was and on and on. I decided to just ignore it and started praying that God would give me the words to say to him when it was time to talk about it.
I started doing the dishes. Here comes Josiah and I'm braced for what is to come, fully ready to discipline him some more if he starts getting disrespectful. He comes up to me and says "I don't care how many codes you give me or what I have to do as punishment". I made the mistake of interrupting at that point because I thought he was getting disrespectful with me. So I told him, "Them's fightin' words, don't threaten me because you'll be in your room the rest of the day". I basically told him I wasn't going to put up with anymore attitude. He had a really confused look on his face and then very seriously repeated himself, but then added, "I'm going to take my punishment like a man." Huh? O.K. This is where the Holy Spirit stopped me in my tracks and prompted me to start asking questions.
I asked Josiah what he meant by that, and he said he wanted Jesus to come into his heart. I told him Jesus was already there because I had witnessed him ask Jesus into his heart. He told me that he would take whatever punishment I would give him like a man for all the bad things he had done and all the bad things he might do in the future. Oh my, can anyone say, "teachable moment?!!" I was amazed that even at his young age (7) he was able to understand that his sin had to be paid for. I was able to explain to him that he didn't have to take that punishment, that Jesus already did that for him on the cross, for his past, present and future sins. All he needs to do is repent when he knows he has sinned and try not to do those things again. Yes, there would be consequences and yes he needs to take those consequences like a man, however, he didn't have to pay for those sins himself. We hugged and cried together. He was literally crying out of happiness.
The rest of the day I saw a transformation in him that I've never seen before. He was obeying me to please God, not out of fear of punishment or even to please me. I could see the difference and it was incredible and startling all at once. Josiah was so kind the rest of the day, not only to me, but to his sister and to others when we ran errands. He was opening doors for people, having good manners, OBEYING! It was wonderful. While he was making lunch, he asked me, "Mom, I bet you're wondering where that other boy is, huh?" Doesn't that just say it all?!!! I don't know how long this will last, but God KNEW how much I needed this encouragement. I know the Holy Spirit is working in Josiah's life and it encourages me to pray for him. I'm ashamed to admit that I don't pray for my kids the way I know I should. This shows me that God honors even those little SOS prayers that we send up when we don't know what else to do. He is so good!
If you are struggling with parenting issues right now, I sure hope this encourages you. I know that parenting is like a roller coaster. It feels like I'm mostly in the valleys, but man, being on the mountain top, even for a moment is sometimes all we need to regroup, keep focused and keep going.