As parents, we really try our best not to parent behaviors, but to parent hearts. No matter the background of a child, their behaviors spill out of their little hearts that are broken, trying to navigate through this life. Life in a world that is as broken as their hearts, broken but not beyond repair. Broken in selfishness, broken in greed, broken in anger. The first signs that this is not our home, this is not where we belong.
When our kids are struggling to share, or to be kind, or to be loving, we talk to them about what their hearts are saying.
A selfish heart says ‘mine, mine, mine’ but a generous heart says ‘here, you have a turn.’ You get the idea.
At night we pray with them before bed – we pray about how our day went, give thanks for our blessings, and pray for our friends.
The last couple days have been hard. Pull-my-hair out frustrating. Behaviors from the back and forth of visits are in hyperdrive.
As I started to pray with Bella last night, I didn’t even know where to start, what to say. I was physically and emotionally exhausted. So I just started out really honest.
“God, some days we have a lot of trouble listening. We just don’t have listening hearts.”
As the words came out of my mouth, mostly intended for the kind of day that Bella had just had, my prayer hit my heart.
I had a lot of trouble listening. I didn’t have a listening heart.
All I could hear all day was our struggles, when God was speaking to me something completely different.
This tantrum, this is your opportunity to love her. Go. Love her. Do it well.
Your little two year old that is so stubbornly (frustratingly) strong willed? She will do great things someday because she doesn’t. give. up.
The mess that you see when you look at your house? There is beauty in it. It is the sign of a day full of life. It is the beauty of having my children under your roof.
If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times (he chuckles), slow. down.
But I didn’t hear these things in the moment, because I was focused on how my children just weren’t listening.
Some days I think God just shakes his head at me. Out of love, of course.
For all the times I pray that my children would have listening hearts, I pray the same for myself.