"Patience is like my car keys; I lose it and find it in the strangest places."
I love it!
She then went on to talk about a lesson she learned in patience, a time when she had to rely on the Holy Spirit to give her some insight into a situation with one of her children. She has an adopted daughter who had grown up in a difficult situation before adoption and, as a defense mechanism, had learned to lie about things; even when nothing was wrong, the child's natural tendency was to lie. Susan knew of one thing her daughter had done wrong but she knew she would not admit to any wrongdoing. Because Susan wanted to build a relationship with her daughter, she hesitated to come down too hard and possibly increase her daughter's resistance and build walls between her daughter and herself. She talked about the delicate balance between discipline and building relationship. She said she became so tired of the struggle and the lies that she came to dread picking up her daughter from school. This is when she came to the end of her rope and asked God for help. She said she just lay down and asked God to show her how to handle the situation. Susan then told her daughter to go to her room, that she knew one thing she had done wrong and that her daughter couldn't come out of her room until she had written it down and confessed it. Susan said that all sorts of things came to light in that situation, and that her daughter made several lists of things she had done wrong before writing down the one thing Susan knew about. Susan said that when she was finally willing to let go and patiently let the Spirit do the work, God was able to do what Susan had never been able to do--get the child to tell the truth!
This story immediately reminded me of a very recent struggle that took place under my roof and the way God brought something to light. I realized that I should record it for my girls because they might need it some day when they are mommas.
For weeks, probably more like two months, baby girl was hitting my big girl. And I don't just mean every now and then, but every day, multiple times a day. I couldn't understand it. I tried everything--time out, increasing the time out, lecturing my head off, separating them, taking away privileges, giving natural consequences (if the situation allowed the opportunity), flipping out, and finally (this is going to raise some of your hackles) spanking. Yes, we occasionally spank. But, let me be really honest: I did not like this consequence for this particular behavior, because as I was telling baby girl not to hit, what was I doing? It felt wrong, but I had exhausted all possibilities and nothing was working and I had lost all patience! (After a few days of spanking and realizing that wasn't working either, I went back to time-outs to ease my conscience.)
What did I finally do? Pray.
Not that I hadn't prayed over discipline before. Believe me, there have been MANY times that I have fallen to my knees right in front of my kids and asked God to show me how to discipline them. And I clearly remember sitting in the kitchen floor with baby girl one day after she had sat in time out for hitting, yet again, and crying for some help. We sat there, in front of the stove, knee to knee, while I dropped my head and prayed aloud for God to give me wisdom. I was exasperated. I felt like I had tried everything with absolutely no improvement. And I was at a complete loss. I just wonder now...why did it have to drag on for so long before I came to my senses and prayed?!
And, no small miracle occurred soon thereafter: I inconspicuously witnessed the prelude to a hit. And I began to witness such preludes frequently. To keep this relatively short, I'll spare you the details, but let it suffice to say that big girl was antagonizing when she thought I wasn't looking. I was slightly surprised to see this bit of deviousness in her, but we are ALL sinful from birth (Psalm 51:5). She wasn't doing anything blatantly wrong, but she would get in baby girl's face or block the way to the sink or repeatedly boss baby girl or...anything to push her sister's buttons. And it worked. Every time. Baby girl, not being quite as articulate as her big sis, would get so frustrated that she would eventually push or hit. Then big girl would come running. But God had given me new eyes. The first time I realized what was happening, I only punished big girl; she had to sit in time out and received a long lecture while baby girl's hitting was "over-looked." The subsequent times, both girls sat in time out, both girls got the after-time-out lecture, both girls had to 'fess up or own their part of the argument, and both had to apologize and give their sis a hug. Guess what? After a day or two, baby girl stopped hitting.
When I relinquished control and placed the situation in God's hands, patiently waiting for Him to resolve the situation, the problem was resolved quickly. I just wish I would patiently wait consistently, rather than patiently waiting after I've lost my patience. I wish I would learn to wait patiently--now! Smile.
"I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry." Psalm 40:1
For more about Susan Merrill, visit her website.
When I visited I read another bit I loved:
My go-to answer is panic, not prayer. In a tough situation, I’ll have a good cry, but then, as the tears subside, my mind takes off as if it’s in a NASCAR race, around and around and around, but not in a good way. (click to tweet) Every circle around the track is a different scenario of the situation, in a thousand shades of depressing gray. I overreact in fear.
Fear, worry, anxiety and panic are not the solution, but prayer is. Prayer is the only guaranteed panic prevention. It is OK to have a good cry, but we can’t allow that grief and concern to convert to fear. We must cap off the panic and download all our passion into fervent prayer. (click to tweet) It is not easy to choose to be still in prayer and resist spinning into action of some sort. It is still hard for me.
(Read the rest here.)
Yep. All that hitting? My go-to panicky thought was, "My kid is an emotional wreck like me! She doesn't know how to handle her emotions and she just hits! What if she never learns how to handle her emotions? What if she is always emotionally unhealthy?" I smile now, but I was seriously and intensely concerned that she was spiraling out of control. Panic made me fearful; prayer made me tranquil.
Attitude of Gratitude:
#232. a Sabbath, in every sense of the word
#233. watching my sweet pig-tail girls sing and smile in front of a full sanctuary, growing before my eyes
#234. holding my big girl's hand as she stood, back to the crowd, and recited, "God is truthful...God is truthful, John 3:33."
#235. wild strawberries
#236. the mystery of the iris bloom that splits paper-thin leaves right into and emerges from the middle when no one's watching
#237. the courage to step outside my door each day and brave the black-widow infested world
#238. gardening gloves!
#239. the familiar, but too-long missed smell of home-made sourdough bread--truly, it is a miracle that the starter is still alive
#240. lunch at the tea house with three friends and their daughters for derby day
#241. watching my little girls hold big glasses with both hands and drink lemonade iced tea
#242. having another tea party at home with daddy, using our new tea cups and tea pot
#243. the squish of saturated ground underneath my wellies =)
#244. a man who does his own labor
#245. a yard that makes me feel warm-fuzzies
#246. a visit from my sis
#247. a beauty that loves life, loves to learn, and simply loves (as evidenced by every creepy crawly thing that she picks up and begs to keep
#248. the wisdom to know what to feed the caterpillars to keep them alive--ask, and you shall receive!