Not long ago, as I was starting to drive my two (school-aged) children to school, I asked my son, “So where is your toothbrush?” For we had agreed that he and his sister would bring their toothbrushes to school from now on, even though (apparently) none of the other children were doing that. As far as I was (and am) concerned, teeth are too precious not to go the whole day without brushing, so that is why the rule was established. Well, my son answered, “I don’t know (where it is).” He checked his school bag, but sure enough it was not there (or the toothpaste).
If we left at that precise moment, we would ‘just’ make it to school, I thought. Any more delay and we would risk being late. I flew off the handle and got very angry at my son! I was like a bull, unleashed. My son had to bear the brunt of my anger … there was nothing else he could do. After hammering my son concerning the whereabouts of his toothbrush, the thought came into my mind, “Well, maybe you had better discipline him by taking away any ‘goodies’ that are in his lunch bag.” Now his lunch bag was separate from his school bag, and he had not checked there when looking for his toothbrush. “Please open up your lunch bag,” I said to my son. He did. When he did, he exclaimed, “Oh, here’s my toothbrush! (And toothpaste).
Still feeling caught in my own emotional state, and not “knowing” just what to do about it, I silently asked the Lord for wisdom. The thought was in my mind, “How can we do better next time?” Without trying to be presumptious at all, I simply patiently waited for the Lord’s answer. One can imagine many “things” to do at time like this. However, the Lord has the real answer. I have learned that it is best to follow him, no matter how “dumb” the answer seems to be. Well, this is what came to my mind, and it was as crystal clear as day. As we drove along, I felt the clear unction to say to my son, “Daniel, when I drop the other children off, I want you to stay behind.” It sounded like punishment, to be sure. However, the Lord had other plans.
I dropped the other children off, and my son and I were left there in the car. I could not help but think of my deep and terrible and grievous failure in communicating with my son. I was deeply convicted. I began thinking about Galatians 5:22 and 23, which says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against these things there is no law.”
I said to my son, “Remember the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5?”
He said, “Yes, dad. Love, joy, peace …”
“That’s right,” I said, as we continued on saying them together. “… patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” I continued, “The Bible says that there is no law against these. In other words, God will never be angry at me if I am loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled.” I continued, “I failed you today, Daniel, when I got angry at you.” I took out a piece of paper and scribbled down three words that came to my mind. “Patience. Gentleness. Self-control.” I showed them to my son. “Here’s where I failed you,” I said to him. “I was not patient. I was not gentle. And I was not self-controlled.” The presence of the Lord was very very strong at this point, and tears were coming out of my eyes.
The Lord said, “Hold your son’s hand.” I did. I held his hand tenderly, and gently, and with compassion. I said to my son, “Please forgive me.” My son is eternally forgiving, of course, so he did. But then we continued on talking about these three fruits of the spirit. My son said that he had a problem sometimes in the area of self-control, for he sometimes talked out of line, without raising his hand, or without waiting for the teacher to say it was his turn to speak. The Lord said, “Pray with him about that.” It was very subtle, but clear, and I almost missed the immense blessing that would come through the prayer. As I prayed for him, still holding his hand, the Lord showed me that there was a link between my son’s problem with self-control and patience. Though my son had not mentioned patience as one of his problems, yet the Lord clearly revealed to me from a standpoint of revelation the tie-in, and I was able to say to my son, “You know, if you were more patient, you probably would not talk out in class but you would wait your turn.” My son saw it immediately and agreed. But this was not all. The Lord clearly showed me, “You know, his problems are really your problems.” It was very very clear now that the Lord was really showing me that where my son got his ‘problems’ from was dad. Plain and simple. This was the ‘spirit’ that dad emanated in the family. My son was just ‘following through’ on what he had been taught, by dad.
Well, it was a very emotional time for me, needless to say. I drove off in tears.
Where does the healing start in a family? The healing starts “right here” with the parents and not with the children. It starts with confession of sin. Does this mean that parents should never discipline their children? Absolutely not! Does it mean that parents should be wimpy? Again, no! Making yourself vulnerable and confessing your faults does not mean you relinquish your responsibility to discipline and the authority of a parent. What it does mean is that your authority in the eyes of your family begins to take on new meaning. No longer does it mean “strict and harsh” but it means “loving and gentle” and it is much more in tune with who God is and it will bring along the blessings that God wants to bring into your family.
Who is this God that we serve, anyway? What is His character like? And what does it mean to act like Him and do those things that please Him? I leave you with these Scriptures quotes to medidate on and think over. May God so bless you as you do.
“But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, long suffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.” (Psalm 86:15)
“The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy. The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.” (Psalm 145:8-9)
“The LORD is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked.” (Nahum 1:3a)
“Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” (Romans 2:4)
“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)