Our church put out a prayer guide to for us pray 10 minutes every day in January on our own, and this morning as my husband and I were spending 10 minutes going over it and praying together, I had QUITE a revelation about what is inside my daughter's heart. And, if you can believe it, it has to do with this JACKET:
If I've heard it once, I've heard it a million times from my second grade daughter. "I don't want to wear my jacket." "I can't situate my hood and my book bag. Can I just take this jacket off?" "Mom, I don't really like this jacket."
I normally hear these comments while we're running a hundred miles per hour out the door to first drop their dad off at his school to start his teaching job, and then zooming the girls 12. minutes south to their school to start their school day. Honestly, at that point, I don't CARE if she likes the jacket or NOT. I just want it shoved on, and us going out the door, because we are NEVER early and hardly ever on time. We're pretty much always flirting with tardiness for both schools, and there is not really a smidgen of time for whiny complaints about hoods or jackets or ANYTHING.
So, anyway, no, yes, I am getting back to the praying and the prayer booklet. Right now, in fact. There we were, spending our 10 minutes praying together. Here's what we read in the little prayer booklet this morning right before my big revelation:
Did you know that we can live out of lie-based patterns? For example, imagine someone grows up in a home where their dad is emotionally unavailable, working all the time, and when he’s home, he’s angry and doesn’t want the kids around, and everyone in the house walks around ‘on eggshells,’ not knowing when he’s going to fly off the handle in anger. That person might end up growing up concluding, “I’m unwanted. There’s something wrong with me that makes people not enjoy being around me.” They might go through their whole life with that underlying conclusion. (Which is NOT what God concludes about them! That’s why we call it living life out of a lie-based pattern.)
BUT!!! Someone can also have truth (i.e. God’s conclusions) reign in their mind: they can be renewed (and re-taught) in the conclusions of their mind and emotions. They can live in patterns of reacting to life based on truth about who they are, and who God is.
Can you identify a lie-pattern that you live out of? Write it down.
Can you identify a potential lie-pattern that your child might currently be living out of? Write it down.
So my husband and I spent a few moments talking together about lie-patterns that we tend to live out of, and then we moved on to our daughters. As we discussed our one daughter (the Jacket Complainer), we started realizing that she worries that if she does anything wrong, she'll be exposed. So when we talk with her about something she's done wrong, or bring a consequence, she often acts closed-off, or hard, or angry. Underneath that anger, though, is embarrassment. She's embarrassed that's she's been seen in her imperfection, in her mistakes.
Or when she gets half-caught in something that she knows isn't quite right, we might notice her talking really fast to try to cover it up, so that no one will notice she did the wrong thing. Or she might even say that she didn't do something that she DID do. She doesn't want anyone to see her in her mistakes, in her failure.
In that moment of discussing our daughter's pattern of not wanting to be exposed, we realize that even the jacket plays into it: if we listened long enough and deep enough, we'd realize that her issue with the jacket is that she doesn't like how her hair lays on the hood...because she thinks it makes her hair look bad. And she's worried that something not right, not good enough, about her will be exposed (in front of her peers). And so she wants to not wear it, take it off, hide it.
I write this because, as a mom, it is so easy for me to be running a hundred miles an hour in the details of my daily routine, and miss listening deeper and longer to understand what's really controlling the hearts of my children.
My job is many things to these girls: I pack their lunches, I get them to school, I wash their clothes, I help them bathe, I plan their after school activities, I teach them manners. But let me not forget that there are more foundational jobs that I am called to in their lives, and one of those jobs is to shepherd them. To pay attention to what's happening inside, what's ruling their actions, what's influencing their emotions...and then to get close. My shepherding closeness will require "casting all (my) cares [all (my) anxieties, all (my) worries, and all (my) concerns] on Him, for He cares about me [with deepest affection, and watches over me very carefully]" (1 Peter 5:7), crying out for the Lord to bring new freedom into their lives, and talking to my girls in a way that makes Jesus' rescue and Jesus' way of living very understandable and desirable. (More blog posts on that to come).
For now...when it's time for that jacket...(cue the tiniest bit of rolling eyes)...I'm going to remember that it's not just a jacket. It represents a reality of the heart. And I'm going to slow down to listen longer and listen deeper.