Sometimes I think we walk around with invisible signs hanging around our necks like, "Hi, my name is bad parent, or bad child, or bad husband or wife..." People walk into Tapestry so discouraged at times. The struggles that brought them here seem so never ending that the conflict, pain, and feeling of failure becomes their identity.
The constancy of the battle of wills with your child can wear you down over time. Not only do you as a parent become discouraged but it becomes increasingly difficult to delight in this child who is defying you or disrupting your family life at every turn. Some children as well as adults take on that cognitive distortion of grabbing hold of every negative criticism like Velcro while affirmations slide off like Teflon. A good friend of mine says we all are well-rehearsed in what's wrong with us but rarely can name the good things. The constant push-back, soaring anxiety, all absorbing OCD, and battle for control distorts your view of your child as well as yourself. What happens in that tug-of-war is that it becomes harder and harder to see the real heart of your child.
Even the delightful things - the childish chatter, constant whistle and wiggling become irritants as they are bouncing off the wall and off the conflict with every other sibling or member of the family. For a while, for your child and for yourself - the outward smile remains as this negative identity takes hold. In time, both the inward and outward smile begins to fade.
"Don't grow weary in well-doing." Ask God to show you what delights him about your child, your spouse, and yourself. Then choose your battles, bite your tongue, pray for wisdom, humor, timing, and patience. Lean into God for your own re-filling. What everybody needs is hope and a new perspective! God offers new mercies every morning. We don't have to drag around a lifetime of hurt, regret, and failure into each new day. Equipping ourselves with new strategies, re-connecting, encouraging, and leaning into each other brings fresh hope.
As we offer ourselves and our loved ones the grace that God so freely offers us, we can begin to see ourselves and our difficult situation with fresh eyes. Hebrews 12:3 is so rich on so many levels. One of the many benefits of fixing our eyes on Jesus is that we can view ourselves more accurately in the reflection of his eyes on us. There is love, forgiveness, grace, mercy, compassion, and tenderness. There is delight in His gaze on you. The waterfall effect of such amazing sacrificial love is energy to meet our challenges knowing we don't have to drag around our own inadequacies but can meet the issues head on with His life-giving strength.
"Hi, my name is loved, redeemed, saved, and set aside, what's yours....."
- Beverly Elliott