This morning, I opened up my Bible to read the devotional passage and knew as soon as I read the first two verses that God was speaking to me. I don't always make New Year's Resolutions, but I did this year because God let me know what I need to work on this year. It was truly exciting for me to realize that God was meeting me right where I was at and letting me know He would be with me every step of the way this year.
Luke 6: 27-28 says “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you." Those of you who know me probably think these verses struck me because of all we've been through with our neighbors, but you would be wrong. These verses struck me because my daughter is officially going to be a teenager in one week. That's right, my daughter Sarah is turning 13 years old. Where has the time gone?!
Now, I know at least one person is probably thinking "You consider your daughter your enemy?!" No, I don't; but I think anyone who has been through the teen years with a child will understand where I'm headed with this. My daughter has always been strong willed. She has always given me an attitude when I tell her do something. She wants things HER WAY and does NOT like to be told what to do. There are days I wonder "What did I ever do to make my daughter hate me so much?!" Yet if I allow that question to verbally emerge from my lips, she will be the first one to say "I don't hate you mom!" It sure feels that way though when she is being defiant, yelling at me, arguing with me, stomping up the stairs, and/or slamming her bedroom door. Yup, my daughter is becoming a teenager and things are bound to get even worse. So, I have no doubt God gave me these verses to tell me what I've been doing wrong and show me what I need to do so that my relationship with my daughter can be repaired and strengthened.
I am going to be brutally honest again in this blog because I want everyone to know that I am not perfect. I have a feeling I am not alone in how I feel and have reacted to things in the past. I have good intentions and want my children to grow up to know, love, and serve Jesus. I want them to be honest and trustworthy individuals. I want them to know that their actions have consequences and that they need to accept those consequences if they choose to do something wrong instead of blaming someone or something else. I am the first to admit though that even though I have the best of intentions, I do not always handle things correctly and I don't always react in a Christlike manner. I have asked for forgiveness from God and from my kids numerous times. It's a good thing that God is so quick to forgive and hasn't given up on me. He knows my intentions are good and He wants to help me become the person I want to be, which is also the person He wants me to be. He understands I am not perfect and gently reminds me of things that I need to work on. Oh to be more like Him!
Getting back to those two verses, let's break them down.
1."Love your enemies". Since God brought my daughter to mind as I read these verses, I can say that I do love my daughter very much; but I also know that I don't always show it to her by my actions when she is acting like an enemy. I need to work on showing love more often. When she starts screaming at me, I don't need to scream at her. I can calmly tell her to stop speaking disrespectfully to me and to show her by example how to speak to someone respectfully. If I don't speak respectfully to her when I'm upset, how will she learn to speak respectfully when she's upset?
2. "Do good to those who hate you." When my daughter is angry with me, do I need to be angry back? Do I need to give her the silent treatment and show how mad or disappointed I am with her for the rest of the day? NO! I need to start finding a way to do nice things for her regardless of how mean she is being. I could make a meal I know she will like. We could play a game together. I know I can find something nice to do with her or for her. Eventually, she will realize how much I love her in spite of how she has acted and hopefully she will learn to change her attitude so that she can also show me how much she loves me.
3. "Bless those who curse you." No one in my family uses profanity, but "cursing" can also mean speaking at someone in a mean way, calling them names, putting them down, or just talking in a disrespectful tone. Sadly, I need to admit that I am guilty of doing all of these things when I am upset with my kids. What I need to work on this year is using more encouragement with my kids, especially when I'm upset. I need to find something to say that builds them up instead of tearing them down. I can encourage them instead of discouraging them. I need to speak kindly and respectfully to them so they learn how to do the same.
4. "Pray for those who mistreat you." This is the most important thing I need to remember to do. In the past, I have prayed.... for Sarah to change her attitude, to quit lying, to quit making excuses for her bad behavior, to stop fighting all the time, etc. What I should have been doing and what I will work on this year is for me to be praying for ME to change MY attitude and that I can find ways to show love, to encourage, and build up my kids when I'm upset so that they can learn by my example how to be a better person.
So there you have it. I'm not perfect, but I know what I am going to be working on this year so that I can get closer to becoming the person God wants me to be and who I want to be. God knew my heart. He knew I was frustrated that my relationship with my daughter was not what I wanted it to be. He knew I was frustrated with the fact that I kept failing in my attitude. I knew that I shouldn't start yelling and stuff when Sarah was giving me an attitude; yet, I would fail over and over again and get sucked into the yell and scream and say nasty stuff routine. UGH! There were times I could control it, but I failed more times than I succeeded. Thankfully, God didn't give up on me. He hasn't given up on you either. He knows the areas where you struggle and He is always willing to help you. I know there may be times I fail this year, but I know what I need to be doing and I am confident I will have more successes this year than failures. With God's help, I can do this!! And so can you!
Enduring Love/Mercy # 23
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