Monday, January 30, 2017

Control Freak

Hi, my name is Angela and I like control.  I want everything my way.  I think my way is best and I will stop at nothing to have things my way.  I am in DA...  Dictator's Anonymous.   I had to seek out help because I was ruining my kids. 

My one goal in life was to raise some really great kids.  My strategy was to control every aspect of their lives.  When they slipped out of my control the consequence was punishment, guilt trips and condemnation. 

A few years ago I started to notice how this was beginning to take a real toll on my daughter.  She had no confidence and felt like she could do nothing right.  She began to lie about little things that meant nothing.  She was plucking her eye lashes and eye brows.  My beautiful flower was wilting under the hot sun of my scrutiny.  She didn't measure up. 

I was devastated to see what I had done to my child.  I started to see how she wasn't the only who was showing signs of living with too much stress, but in all honesty I didn't know how to change the situation.  I thought I was right.  I thought being hard on them would bring about my desired results.  I started reading every parenting book I could find and there were so many conflicting theories out there.  I was really confused.  One week I would try this method and another day I would try that method.  My children were confused as well.  There was no consistency and with my moody nature it was impossible for them to predict what I would do in any given situation.

Finally, I started praying for some wisdom, because God has always answered my prayers before and in James it says, "ask for wisdom and He will give it to us liberally." 

I'm not going to say I have figured anything out or that I have become the perfect parent, but God did begin to show me a few things from His Word.  It was like he had shone a little light on all the places his Father heart was revealed to us in scripture.   I could see from His Word how different He is from me.  I could see the contrast between how He treats his children and how I treat mine. 

"The Lord is gracious, and FULL of compassion (he feels what we feel); SLOW TO ANGER, and of great mercy.  The Lord is good to all and his TENDER MERCIES are over all his works." Psalms 145:8-9

As a dictator I was none of these things.  I was often angry and cruel.  My anger was like a light switch...  but in this verse I could see that God was slow to anger and had great mercy.  Well, I knew that He had been that way with me (his child), why couldn't I be that way with my children?  There is a real answer to that question.  Fear.  Fear controlled me and I used it to control my children.   I feared that if I didn't control everything, then they would do something that would make me look bad as a parent.   Oh and tender, yeah right.  I didn't know how to be tender.  

I LOVE this definition of tender- easily moved to sympathy or compassion...  God understands that we are weak and therefore he is tender with us. 

Mercy- compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an OFFENDER, an enemy, or other person in one's power. 

IF God is tender and merciful toward us...  WHY should we be any different with our children and notice that these words are used WHEN we do something wrong or we are enemies.

Look at John 3:17 "For God did not send His son into the world to condemn the world, but that through him the world might be saved."

What does condemn mean- to express an unfavorable or adverse judgment on; INDICATE STRONG DISAPPROVAL of.

Don't get me wrong.  The Bible says that God disciplines those he loves and He will correct our behavior, but HE NEVER CONDEMNS. 

Another definition for condemn- to declare incurable.

I believe that I was declaring my children incurable.  I was speaking death into their lives.  Let me give you an example between discipline and condemnation.

This morning one of my sons whirled around in the kitchen, arms swinging wide, and knocked over a glass of orange juice.

I wanted to scream and cry and say "NOT AGAIN, WHY DO YOU ALWAYS DO THAT." and then maybe tell him his punishment was to NEVER COME IN THE KITCHEN AGAIN.  Kidding/not kidding.   That is condemnation.   That makes kids discouraged.  Discouragement is losing courage.  Losing life.  This is how a dictator would respond.

Instead, I turned away and cried inside, opened a drawer and handed him a towel to clean up his mess.  His discipline was to clean up after himself.  He felt badly enough that he had spilled the orange juice.  I didn't need to beat him down about it. 

Discipline is a word that we associate with punishment, but discipline is really training. 

Discipline - activity, exercise, or a regimen that develops or improves a skill; training.

Training our children is a must.  God trains us.  He teaches us his ways.  Sometimes the consequences for our actions or for theirs is painful and pain is a good instructor, but our treatment should always be in love and never in condemnation. 

"Or do you despise the riches of His goodness and forbearance and LONG-SUFFERING; not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?" Rom. 2:4

It is in fact the goodness of God that makes me want to do the right thing.  My nature LOVES to do the wrong thing.  I'm not going to lie.  I am not pure in heart.  I can identify strongly with the lyrics of the One Republic song "Counting Stars":

I feel something so right
Doing the wrong thing
I couldn't lie, couldn't lie, couldn't lie
Everything that kills me makes me feel alive.

I have a couple children who are just like me.  They love to do the wrong thing.   I have to remember that God's goodness and forbearance and patience with me  keep me coming back to him.  It's His mercy that makes me love him and want to follow him.  How I would benefit from dealing with my own children the way He deals with me.

Listen to what Paul says,

"If I speak in the tongues of men and angels, BUT HAVE NOT LOVE, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to move mountains, but DO NOT HAVE LOVE, I AM NOTING." I Cor 13:1-1-2

Love is patient
Love is kind
Love does not envy
Love does not boast
Love is not rude
It does not insist on it's own way
It is not irritable or resentful;

Being a parent like my heavenly Father does not come naturally to me.   I have to die to myself, to my nature.  To truly love my children I have to let go of my need to control everything.  This is not easy.  That's why it's called death...  It hurts.

I'm not an authority on anything, especially parenting, but I do have an inside track on learning about Amazing Grace...  I've done it all wrong and I've have had to learn more from mistakes than anything else, but God has always been good to me.  He's always drawn me back in his arms with tender mercy and understanding and acceptance!  That's the kind of parent I want to be.

Hello, my name is Angela and I'm letting go of the control. 

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