If you haven't been following along, I've been briefly (or not so briefly!) covering what I'm going to be sharing at an upcoming conference. You can catch up by scrolling down or clicking on these links~
Taking Advantage of the Pre-School Years~ Part 1
Yesterday I left off talking about how true obedience requires not only obedient actions but an obedient heart as well. "How" to get the heart to be obedient is really a complicated question and I'm sure there are others who could give you a more complex answer. For me, my advice would be, draw you child's heart as close to your own as you can.
Around here we talk about a concept called "heart strings". I can't even remember where I first heard this word picture but I use this in my attitude toward all my girls and I try to help them understand this picture also.
Imagine between your heart and the heart of your child there are beautiful little strings tying them together. The more strings there are, the stronger the bond is. My desire is to maintain a close, loving and understanding relationship with all of my children through all of their years. To some this feels like an impossible task. I don't believe it is. But I do know that it will take work. I desire to tie more and more heart strings and to protect them with all of my might.
I tie heart strings by~
Listening eagerly to their stories and ideas
Celebrating their joys
Caring about their heart breaks (even the little ones)
Appreciating their best efforts
Encouraging when they feel sad
Surprising them with delights
Helping them see how amazing I think they are
Finding the time, no matter what
While it takes time and effort to tie as many heart strings as possible, I find it takes more effort to make sure that I am not cutting those heart strings. The best relationships in the world can be quickly undone by unloving actions and behaviour. As a mom with young children life can be hectic, and it is in daily life that our children are either drawn closer to us or driven away from us.
I cut through heart strings by~
Not listening to their ideas, their dreams, their aspirations
Being too busy
Talking at them instead of to them
Discouraging them when they are struggling
There is one thing that creeps into my life that I call the "chainsaw of heart strings". It truly feels like I'm just slashing through those precious bonds. That thing is, frustration.
I never imagined I would be a frustrated mom. My own mom was one of the least angry mothers I've ever seen, so I never had that as an example. When frustration sets in, its as if everything I know flies out the window. The words I speak, my facial expression, my actions are consumed with anger and I find myself slashing through these precious heart strings and driving my darling girls farther and farther from myself.
It is the easiest thing in the world to feel "out of control" during those times but let's face it, giving in to frustration and being out of control is about as contrary to the fruits of the Spirit as it comes.
Galatians 5:22-23~ But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
Every single one of those is a contradiction to feeling angry and frustrated.
When I'm feeling frustrated, the only thing I can choose to do is to surrender myself, my words, my actions, my emotions to the Lord. I can do nothing in my own strength. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.
If you feel frustrated as a mother, please don't feel alone. But please don't allow yourself to remain in a place that is dishonoring to the Lord.
As my children have grown older it has been wonderful to pass on the idea of heart strings to them. Lydia has always been quite honest and forthright with me. A few weeks back however, I caught her trying to deceive me about something. Instead of only addressing the issue of dishonesty, I also reminded her that my desire is have our hearts be close, and that if I can't trust her, that chops away at our heart strings. Because she has watched my desire to draw our hearts close, that greatly impacted her. She did not want to do what is right only because "it was right" but because it impacted her relationship with me.
That is what we want our children to understand in their relationship with the Lord. In fact that's what I want to understand in my relationship with the Lord! We obey Him because we love Him. I remember being impacted as a teen with the thought that God's laws reflect God's heart. So when we break His laws, we are breaking His heart.
If we want our children to have the heart for obedience, we must continue to draw their hearts towards us and towards the Lord!