Yesterday I shared how I wanted to protect my first-born from any pain. The first lesson God taught me as an over-protective parent was about faith, or more accurately, my lack of faith. God revealed that my fear for my children was actually a lack of faith in His ability to protect them. The question I had to answer was do I trust God or do I just say I trust Him. But that wasn’t the only lesson God taught me early in my parenting. The other significant lesson had to do with allowing my children to experience pain.
Now I’m not talking about physical pain. I didn’t trip them hoping they’d learn to deal with bumps and bruises. I’m talking about the pain of discouragement or failure. Even though everything in me wants to step in and save the day (da-da-da-da! Super Mom to the rescue!) I learned that experiencing challenges in a protected environment was actually good for my children.
One of my mother’s best gifts to me was teaching me to be a problem solver. It’s because she was and is one of the best problem solvers I know. If I had a school project to tackle, she taught me how to break down the components and address them one by one. She equipped me with tools and techniques that benefit me today.
I realized I had to teach my own children to be problem solvers – and then let them try, and possibly fail, on their own. By trying to protect them from any problems, I was in fact thwarting their ability to become independent. God showed me I needed instead to prepare my kids to deal with problems, because trouble will arrive on our doorsteps our entire lives.
I did my children a disservice by trying to protect them from trouble, because I could only do so for a short time. Instead, teaching my children to effectively deal with trouble and hurt, instead of keeping them from it, was spring training for adulthood.
Allowing some pain to enter our children’s lives also teaches them to turn to God. If a child’s life is free from all pain, she can easily miss her need for God. Although this seems paradoxical, I have experienced this in my own life. It is in times of deep pain that God teaches me things I would never learn in the easy times.
When things are going smoothly, I deceptively think I have life under control. At those times, I neglect to seek God’s help and miss tremendous blessings. While I never seek out pain in order to grow closer to God, I’m thankful He can use pain to reveal Himself to me.
You see, I have not learned to trust God in the good times. Oh, I love Him easily in the good times. I’m thankful in the good times. But I have learned to trust God in the bad times. It’s in the hard times, when I cry out for help, that I experience His miraculous intervention. It’s in the lonely times, when I cry in despair, that I am comforted. It’s in the fearful times, when I pray for peace, that I am overwhelmed with His protective presence.
I haven’t learned to trust God from reading a great book. I haven’t learned to trust God by listening to an amazing sermon. I haven’t learned to trust God by hearing how my friend trusts God. No, I have learned to trust God by experiencing something difficult, by stepping out in faith and obedience, and finding out for myself that He is trustworthy.
We can give this same “gift” to our children. We can actually help them experience the reality of God in their own lives by how we coach them through hurt and trouble. I believe we serve a God who longs to intervene in our lives when given the invitation. What better time to experience the power and majesty of God, than when a child is young.
I’ve had to seek God’s wisdom in how and when this happens. Some times I need to intervene, other times I need to step back and allow them to deal with a situation. The more I’ve sought God’s help, the more I “hear” His direction. I believe God longs to do the same in your life as well.
Let’s see what God’s Word says about this:
Romans 5:3-4, “…we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”
Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”
Deuteronomy 31:8, “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
Do you ever hear: “Mom, there’s nothing to eat for breakfast”? Do your kids storm in the door ravenous for an afternoon snack? Or do you face the fridge and pace the kitchen each night wondering what to cook?
As much as I love to eat, food is the cause of lots of stress if I’m not careful. So my tip today is to make menus for your week. Most every week I make a dinner menu that’s day-specific. For instance, if I know Monday is particularly busy, I’ll plan a slow-cooker dinner that day. Or I’ll plan Thursday’s dinner based on Wednesday’s leftovers. And I always plan my menu based on sales.
But there’s another type of menu I’ve created, and that’s a menu of options. For example, this past summer I grew weary of having my kids open the fridge, then shut the fridge. Then they walked to the pantry and stared. Then they walked back to the fridge and opened the door … were they hoping I’d ran to the store and put something interesting in there in the past two minutes???
So I created a menu of lunch options and put it on the refrigerator. That way, they always had options. When I posted this on my blog this summer, my wonderful readers added their lunch ideas. We put all the ideas together in one document and you can find them all on the Resource section of my blog.
Maybe lunches aren’t a problem, but breakfast is. Why not make a list of 10 things you or your children can fix for breakfast? Then you might make a snack menu. If you do this, make sure the ingredients are on hand, otherwise you’ll trade one frustration for another.
I have one more suggestion regarding this tip. Make your menus when you are hungry. When I’m full, nothing sounds good. So don’t sit down after dinner and try and do this.
That’s it for today – thanks so much for joining me. Please stop back tomorrow when my friend Karen Ehman will be guest posting. I believe she’s got a special giveaway planned too.
Grace & Peace,