Monday, February 4, 2019
Devotionals for the Heart: How to let God guide you and your children
On Godly love and stepping back
A devotional by Jessica Brodie
I love my kids. If I’m not careful, they have the danger of becoming idols in my life, distracting me from God, but still—I love them. God created me to love them. It’s part of my job as a mom and as a woman.
But I have a little bit of a problem. See, I come at this with the best of intentions, but as a driven, Type A kind of person, if I see an issue, I immediately want to fix it. So when my kids are struggling, my instinct is to swoop in and attack the so-called predator. While I refuse to do her work for her, if my daughter is having trouble with math homework, I don’t hesitate to sit down and help her find her way through. If my son is having a conflict with a peer and asks me for advice, we could talk an hour about the many ways to get past it. If my stepson loses his special bag somewhere in the mess of the playroom, we find it then and there.
On the one hand, yes—it’s good to be there for my kids. It’s a good thing to support them and guide them. They’re not yet adults, and that’s why God tasked us parents with being responsible figures in their lives to model, teach, and help them.
But here’s the thing: There’s a fine line between guiding them as a parent and swooping in as an enabler and saving them from their problems. Even if I’m not doing the actual work for them, by rescuing them from their problems, they’re not understanding what it means to have that valley experience, that wilderness, that critical low when they realize they’ve exhausted all options and their only hope is in the Lord.
By trying to help them, to love them, sometimes I’m actually hurting them. I’m stifling their emotional development and their spiritual development.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding,” says Proverbs 3:5 (NIV).
Lately, I’ve been working on stepping back and letting them figure out their own way through things. So if my daughter is stumbling over her math sheet but all she really needs is moral support, I sit back and tell her to work it out. I’m in the vicinity, but I don’t need to be there at the table with her step by step. If my son is venting about a classmate, instead of offering up the many solutions I can think of, I just listen. At the end I’ll ask him what he thinks he should do—or better yet, what Jesus would do in his situation.
I am not perfect at any of this. I am learning as I go. But I’m trying, and I think that’s half the battle.
The other day, my kids were talking about a problem and I was nearby. Instead of getting involved in their conversation, I pressed my lips together and listened. And then I heard my son ask my daughter, “Well, is that what Jesus would do in this situation?”
I did a silent mom-cheer.
A few nights ago, my daughter was really stressed out and had a stomachache, which is her go-to complaint whenever she gets anxiety. I kissed her on her for head and said I was so sorry for her. Then instead making a suggestion, I kept my mouth shut.
Then her own words came: “Mommy, I think we should ask God to help my stomach.” Yes!
This New Year, I pray I can love my kids in a way that helps them be better children of God. I pray I can rein in my own desire to “rescue” them, and instead help them figure out how to surrender to God on their own.
Jessica Brodie is an award-winning Christian novelist, journalist, editor, blogger, and writing coach and the recipient of the 2018 ACFW Genesis Award for her as-yet-unpublished novel, The Memory Garden.
She is also the editor of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate, the oldest newspaper in Methodism.
Learn more about her fiction and read her blog at http://jessicabrodie.com/shiningthelight.