Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Week of Challenge

Exodus 14:14, "The Lord will fight for you. You need only be still."

When I read this in a text last Thursday evening I had no idea how much I needed it! The funny thing was that I had been searching for that reference when a dear friend (love you Tracey girl!) sent it my way! And like I mentioned, I had no idea how much I would come to rely on its promise over the next few days!

Saturday was absolutely a wonderful day with my kiddos! We played games, we joked around, we had a blast!! AWESOME!! Sunday morning worship was fantastic! Again - incredible time! Sunday afternoon, however, the figurative grey skies moved in - big time!

Joshua, my 9-year-old son, got very upset with me because we were not spending the afternoon at home but were going out of town for the evening to attend a worship service in Columbia. He pouted the entire way to the meeting. He huffed and puffed the entire time we were in the meeting. And, being the mom I am, I pulled him out during the meeting and took away some privileges. Clearly, this did not improve the mood!

The battle continued all the way home, and very quickly took a rather scary turn. Joshua, with a very "let's see how you deal with this one Mom" attitude, stated that he wasn't sure he really bought into all this "God stuff." He expressed a belief that it was all make-believe and that when we die that is it. I tried my very hardest not to react to the attitude and add fuel to the fire of his frustration. We talked about it and I presented arguments for Christ that I thought he would be able to comprehend and process, but still he was adamant that I was wrong and he was right.

I shared with my husband Ray all that was going on and his opinion was that Joshua was just trying to strike me where it would cut the deepest out of his anger that I had taken away some of his privileges... what can you say - nine year old boys are rough! I prayed and tried to be OK with this but just couldn't let it go! I mean, although I want Joshua's decision to be a Christ follower to be authentically all his own, it's so difficult for my mother's heart to hear him doubt and question the one thing I want for him to believe in above and beyond anything else in life - the most important thing!

So I struggled and cried and prayed... and then it dawned on me that in a lot of ways Joshua is just like me and as an almost adolescent he's probably struggling with so many of the same identity issues I dealt with - what is personal power, how do I use it, who am I apart from my parents, what do I have control over???? With that in mind I redoubled my efforts to come up with creative solutions to the real problem - Joshua's desire to get his own way and be able to decide for himself some things. So, I prayed for the direction of the Holy Spirit and stopped asking "Jesus-y" questions. What are things that Joshua can help decide for himself and for our family?

What did the Holy Spirit lead me to? Well... a couple of fairly basic things... When I pick Joshua and Isobel (our daughter) up from school I give them a dinner ballot. On the ballot are the choices of main dishes, side dishes, or restaurants we will enjoy for dinner that night. If the two ballots don't agree we work together to come to a common ground by presenting rational reasons for our selection and come to a consensus. Another way we're addressing this need of Joshua's for personal success, identity, and exertion of personal power is to play video games with him. Most games he can beat me at with his eyes closed and the controller behind his back - yes - I'm that bad... the positive lesson of self expression comes when he either whoops me and has to win graciously, or when he has to give me instructions on how to play. I'm finding that when I show him I'm willing to listen to him, acknowledge his strengths, and give him choices within healthy parameters we get along SO much better!

It's been three days now... a long three days! And last night as we sat at the dinner table Joshua leans over and in a half whisper says, "I'm sorry mom. For the way I acted this morning [he had acted out harshly towards his sister], and for the things I said on Sunday night. I'm really, truly sorry." Ahhh - a sigh of relief, of joy, and of thanksgiving!

All this to say a handful of things - 1)The Lord is fighting for you - if only you will be still and trust in Him! 2) It's important to make sure our kids know we believe in them and love them even when we don't agree or love the things they are saying. 3) Our kids need the space to grow on their own but need healthy boundaries to do it within and... 4) Adolescence is gonna make me CRAZY!!

Do you have a similar story or experience? Post a comment sharing the solutions, suggestions and creative parenting God led you to in order to deal with the situation!


  1. Whitney:

    You are a beautiful, strong, amazing woman! I have always been honored to know you, but seeing and knowing what you have gone through in your own process, only makes me respect you more!

    You are awesome!

  2. Thanks Doug! And back at you and Storm! I can't imagine 4 boys in as many years! What a gift and a challenge - great to know that God uses our kids on a REGULAR basis to bless and challenge us in our faith walk!!

  3. I have so much to learn from you! Mine are 7 & 5 - this is sooooo coming my way... YAY for the counsel of edifying friends!