Over the years we’ve seen different reactions to some of our children’s behavior. I always hesitate to say such things as “my children’s behavior” because it conjures up in your mind a picture that all of my children have been difficult. That is by no means the truth. I have had children who have been compliant and respectful of our parental authority trying their best to be a blessing. So when I start out a posting like I did above, please understand I am not referring to all of my children. Also do not assume we do not love our “difficult” children, or wish them ill in any way. I am just stating the facts so that I may bring across a truth that I have learned or because I wish to encourage others to remain faithful and not lose heart if they are in the midst of trial with one or more of their children.
It’s pretty typical to get a reaction of, “Oh, you have such a nice family.” That’s a reaction of someone who sees us for the first time. They haven’t gotten to know us or had much interaction with us. Of course the statement is true, for we have had many wonderful times together as a family.
After they get to know us a little better and see some of our difficulties, we’ll hear something like, “Oh, but what you are doing is such a great thing, don’t get discouraged over the tough times, you are doing this for the Lord and He is pleased.” These are the ones who have seen some difficulties and give us encouragement because they see we’re doing something they’d never consider doing. These people get misty when thinking about what could have happened to our kids if we hadn’t pulled them out of the world’s system.
Then when people are affected in one way or another by a misdeed of one of our children, we’ll see one of two different reactions. I’ll give you an example of something we experienced about two or three years ago. I was out of town for a missionary event and someone took over my classroom. One of my boys was called a “girl” by the substitute in jest. She didn’t know it was a sore spot in his life because his brothers had been unkindly taunting him in that way for years. This had been something we’d dealt with over and over in our family but hadn’t gotten victory over yet. This boy ran down the hall in anger and bumped into one of our teachers, Mrs. Wright, without apologizing. Of course then she called him back and corrected him, but she didn’t receive a proper repentant attitude from him. She decided to pray with him because she was disappointed in his wrong spirit. When I came back, she discussed it with me and I looked into it. When I discovered the story behind the behavior, Mrs. Wright understood and then felt bad for him. She called him back into her room and talked to him about it and acknowledged that she understood and then instructed him on what a proper behavior ought to have been, removing the demerit she had given him earlier (which had been his third one, leading to a detention). She had expressed her love in her correction.
Her loving heart administered correction and even though it wasn’t received right away, she still cared enough to check into it and amended her correction later when she found out the source. In our experience, most people administer the “punishment” without care over the catalyst that caused the behavior. After all, we all ought to respond correctly even when we have been wronged. Yes, this true, but compassion added to the mix will bring the child closer to God. Harshness and an unloving attitude in correction will only drive a child’s heart away. To this day all my sons love and respect this lady because they saw her good heart.
I just asked my son if he remembered the incident and he said “Yes,” with a smile on his face. My boys love Mrs. Wright to this day and consider her one of the kindest adults in their life. Comments we get from this type of person are usually like, “God will bless you for being faithful, don’t get discouraged.”
Here is the next example. This one represents a lack of love when dealing with my children. One of my sons was kicking a ball in the gym that was hitting the ceiling. He was told not to do it but did it again anyway. He was told to stand by the wall and that he would be taken to his parents. When he started to walk out with the other kids at the end of the activity, he was picked up and thrown against the wall and chewed out for being disobedient. That was years ago and everyone who witnessed the scene remember it very well to this day.
I just asked my son if he rememberd the incident I described above and he said “Yes,” and then said with a less than cheerful face, “I never did know why he was so mad.” Comments from this type of person would be like “Those kids are so bad, I wish the parents would train them better.”
Romans 12:14-20 “Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.”
A vengeful attitude of, “I’ll make them pay,” will not bring God glory or benefit the one being corrected. It will only cause bitterness and hatred, especially in a child. But a loving attitude of, “I want you to see that what you are doing is wrong so you can become better through it,” is a way of showing God’s love and bringing them closer to a better understanding of that love. I call that the “Wright” way to correct. Of course we can make that statement with our mouth, but too often our actions do not match our words. We need to be careful that we execute judgment in a way that shows we desire restoration.
God has given me many such incidents to learn from and has changed my perspective through the years. I often struggled to have a proper spirit when correcting a child who would repeatedly choose to defy the rules and purposely sin against others. It’s been a hard road to travel and I have not always been successful in reacting as I should. It is true that hindsight is so much easier to learn from. I shutter to think of all the opportunities I missed to show God’s love to others around me. But I have also determined to look for those who need encouragement and to be the one to give it. Of course I cannot justify sin or walk down the road of destruction with others, but if they step off that road and need assistance, I want to be the one God used to offer it. There will be many who don’t want help, but there will also be many who need it and would greatly appreciate a helping hand. Too many years I walked around wishing someone would see my pain and heartache and offer the healing balm of acceptance or support. If we truly are beloved of God because we have chosen to be a part of His church, then we need to make it a safe place where others can find rest. I have never received one unkind comment from anyone “in the world” about my children. Unfortunately that has not been the case in the Christian realm. I want to be like Mrs. Wright who was so kind to my erring son that day a long time ago. I want to be remembered with a smile by a child that happened upon me while in he was distress. That’s what we call the love of Christ.