I am trying to learn to see my trials through eyes that say "Okay God what are you wanting to teach me?" instead of "Great, now what!" Even when that trial is coming in and through my kids...
I am learning to always remember that I am a child to my Father in Heaven. So when my children do things or act in a way that gets all up in my crawl, I have begun to stop and ask God if I behave the same way toward Him.
I began doing this several years ago... but it seems I forget about it for a while... then when I am about ready to knock all my girls out I realize I need to stop and examine myself and my current relationship with God to see if He is trying to teach me something about my relationship to Him or someone else through my relationship with my children.
He has never failed to greatly enlighten me when I come to Him with this question. I don't think He has ever said, "Nope, Nicole, we're great. Your kids are just little hellions and they need their heads pinched off." It usually is a response of opening my eyes to some things that I need to work on.
Sometimes it is to open my eyes to something between me and Him. Sometimes it's something between me and my husband. Sometimes it's between me and my girls. Sometimes it between me and another brother or sister in Christ. Sometimes it's just to teach me so I will be ready because a future issue is coming and God is getting me ready to know how to respond. Sometimes it is just to help me give my children more grace as I sit before Him praying that He will extend more grace to me.
I currently have one child that has been having a whinefest that hangs around the it's-all-about-me-festival and it seems to be becoming a perpetual statute for all days until all eternity and then another that is struggling with truth-telling and truth-doing and trusting to receive the right answer, not one gained by manipulating a situation to get their own way.
These are all areas that God is constantly pruning in my own heart as well... and as I look at my kids and tell them what they should do, and know that they know what to do, and see them struggle to walk in that knowledge, I learn to give mercy and grace.
And not just to them but to others.
Because God gives it to me.
Now I did not say that I let it slide, that I ignored it, that I don't deal with it... but I do it with mercy and with grace. (And I praise God that He doesn't let foolishness slide with me either.)
It's just that there is a big difference in having knowledge and actually walking and living out what you know to be true and right. This stupid flesh, and the pull of this world, and that old, nasty, sneaky serpent take their toll on our strength and convictions... and they love to offer us up a big ole plate of condemnation when we struggle and especially when we fail.
I have learned that the only sure thing in this life is Christ and all that stems from Him. Like the stem of grace, mercy, faith, love, hope, forgiveness, redemption... I have to keep my eyes on Him at all times... and He's really a beautiful sight... so our eyes on Him should not be that difficult... right?
I have learned that my children will fail. They will struggle. They will desire this world. Their flesh and the desires of this flesh will be used by Satan to tempt them and to lead them to follow the world instead of Christ. But Jesus has prayed for them and we have prayed for them... so that when they fall their faith will not fail.
So I love them. I learn how to discipline them with "discipleship" mentality instead of "you're getting on my last nerve and I have had it up to here" mentality. I am a trainer at all times. I am learning how to do this because this is how I realize my God disciplines me.
Training me up to serve and to live an abundant life of overcoming victory in and by grace alone.
With much patience my God trains me up...
So when I hit the point that my flesh is screaming "Great, now what!"
I know now to stop.
To just stop and pause for a moment and say "Okay God, what are you wanting to teach me?"