I had tried all those other diets. The ones where you only eat this. Or never eat that. The ones that called for extreme measures. They were appealing in theory largely because they made me believe that by drawing a firm line in the sand I would lose those pounds I had been trying to get rid of for years and years.
Except they never worked in the longterm.
The only thing that did work, after a lifetime of being overweight, was joining a program with no gimmicks-one that taught me how to have self-control. It was a program that educated me about healthy eating, allowing me to enjoy anything I wanted within certain boundaries, and giving me lots of time and encouragement to practice, fail, learn again, practice some more, and model what success really looked like by experienced leaders.
Guess what? It worked. I lost 65 pounds over the course of a year and two weeks. And then I kept it off.
The reason for my success is that the program and leaders allowed me to be human, learn over the course of time, and develop the much-needed and Godly discipline of self-control. Even as an adult, I had much to learn. It took many long months but they let me struggle and then cheered for me when I met my goals. I didn't need to change my environment, I needed to change my heart and mind. If my leaders, who were more mature than me in my weight loss journey, had become frustrated, removed the temptations, or punished me when I failed, I would have never gone back. And I certainly would not have lost the weight. I may have even acted out. Kicked my bad habits up a notch in rebellion. Eaten a dozen donuts on the way home.
Why then, would I go to extremes when it comes to teaching my children the principles of self-control, moderation, healthy choices, or any other discipline of life?
When they act like the children they are and forget to pick up their toys, I want to be patient, keep modeling a good work ethic for them, encourage them, and provide reasonable boundaries. I don't want to take all their toys away, show my frustration or condemnation, punish them by sidelining them from an event they were looking forward to, or impose restrictions that stem from my own inability for self-control when they need time and patience to learn good habits, just like I do. I want to be a reasonable mom. And no, I'm not talking about removing standards (mine are very high), overlooking disobedience, or letting discipline go by the wayside. I just think that most of my kids' struggles are really more about me being refined.
You must let no unwholesome word come out of your mouth, but only what is beneficial for the building up of the one in need, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29
Refined to be patient. Refined to be more creative in problem solving. Refined to be gracious. Refined to be forgiving. Refined to guard my tongue. Refined to be more loving. I don't want to expect my kids to behave like adults or mature Christians. I know that I often forget to put myself in their shoes, and I miss the joy of what it is to teach because “I have finally just had it” that they aren't measuring up to my adult expectations.
I often ask myself, am I willing to teach them again, tell them again, model for them again? Or should I just impose a new rule? The new rule may be a good idea. The plumb line for me is to carefully consider why I am making the rule in the first place. What is my true motive? What is the possible positive outcome? What is the possible negative outcome? How am I feeling when I make the rule, and how will it make my children feel? Is this decision the result of fervent prayer for wisdom? I always want them to feel the weight of responsibility for reasonable expectations we have for them as parents, but I never want them to feel that I resent them, think they are incapable, or that they are being punished instead of lovingly corrected with their good in mind.
The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down. Proverbs 14:1
I hope this issue isn't something that affects you as a parent. But if you are like me, you too can become overwhelmed by the same old parenting issues that can become a plague and be tempted to impose extremes that are not well-thought out. I know that these times, are for me, a reminder of how patient and loving God has been and continues to be to me as a Father to His daughter. I'm praying daily that God would hold me in check over every word, action, idea, correction, and encouragement towards my children. It's a different kind of weight loss to be sure. The kind of weight that burdens my heart when I know I have not dealt justly or kindly with my children. And so much more eternally important than a measurement on a scale.
YOUR TURN! How does God challenge you to become more refined as you deal with your children? What life lessons have you personally experienced have helped you to be a Godly parent? If this post blessed you, please share it with others! I love to hear from you!
Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory. Psalm 115:1
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