JESUS ONLY: Part 2 (Day 24)
In today’s scripture we are going to zoom in on Colossians 3:21, “Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.” (NIV)
In other versions you will find the words "exasperate, provoke, or aggravate" in place of "embitter," and you will find “lose heart” in place of “discourage.” I think we can all agree that as parents and influencers of children we never want to be the one that causes a child to lose heart.
If you look online there are a myriad of ways to exasperate a child. However, my experience with this is more personal, so I will give an example of a way that my own father exasperated me as a child. Then we will discuss how to avoid doing this in our own families.
I want to begin by saying that I don’t think my father realized the effect that his actions would have on me. I don’t think he decided to have a child just to intentionally crush her spirit. I don’t believe any parent does that. However, with all of our good intentions we can still have the end result of exasperating our children and causing them to lose heart.
Growing up I was keenly aware of my father’s high expectations for me. I don’t think he realized, however, that he was basing those expectations on a version of me that didn’t exist. Essentially, what he desired for me was not realistic. It wasn’t based on my personality, my gifts, or my interests. I fumbled for years attempting to mold myself into the person he wanted me to be, but in the end, it just wasn’t an attainable goal. It wasn’t possible for me to genuinely be someone I wasn’t. I fell short of his unrealistic expectations and he was disappointed in me. The worst part, the part that caused me to lose heart, was that I knew it. I understood and this deeply embedded into my young heart that I was not enough, and it crushed me.
Expectations (desires) in and of themselves are not a bad thing. They can be very inspiring if they are realistic. The way to set a realistic expectation is to truly know someone. To see their unique personality, the gifts that God has placed in them, and what their interests are, and then to set a desire in them to excel, to become the very best version of who God created them to be.
The best way to avoid exasperating children is, in fact, to see them as God sees them, a unique and beloved creation. We are each members of the body of Christ. We are many parts, yet one body (paraphrased from 1 Corinthians 12: 18-20). I encourage you (and myself) to continue to develop relationships with our children. Build the relationship by being consistent, by being available, by making them feel that they are a priority in your life. Win their hearts so that you can plant seeds for how to develop character traits that will, in turn, enable them to focus on God and who He made them to be. Let His love ripple out of you into your children, and through your children, into the lives of others.
“Lord, I pray for a heart of love towards my children. Help me see them through Your eyes and love them with the unfailing, unconditional love of Christ.
Cleanse my heart of impatience and selfishness, bitterness and anger. Help me to parent by Your Spirit so that the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control will be evident and abounding.
Give me a heart that seeks to glorify You through my parenting. Remove all selfish motives and rid me of the impulse to make it about me — my comfort, my convenience, my reputation, and my pride.
Fill my heart with love for others, that I may be a model to my kids of what it means to be like Christ.”
Is there anything you might be doing with good intentions that could actually be exasperating your child? (I strongly encourage you to check out some articles online).
Do you see your children as yours, or God’s?