“But I want to be the boss, Mummy. I don’t know why Daddy God made you the boss.” – the 3 year old toddler argument. This training of our children in Biblical Joy, starts right here.
“Because Mummies know what is good for their toddlers, and you need to have a rest.”
“I don’t have to obey. I am not tired! I am happy!” Pulls the corners of her mouth into a smile with her fingers and simultaneously bursts into tears.
It’s the whinging and whining that get to me, the pure illogical emotion, and my head feels like it’s swirling like a washing machine. It just goes round and round in circles, and saying ‘Just stop or I’ll XYZ’ doesn’t work, she’s like a tape on repeat, until one day I just started singing to her.
She stopped and listened and forgot whatever it was she was weeping about. It was like a reset button, and we could move on to the next thing, which may or may not have included a sleep.
(And before you click off thinking this is about some silly children’s song, if you stick with me, you’ll hear about how singing a song to oneself brought about a real miracle for a real adult.)
When we’re arguing about obedience we sing
Listen to the words they say, obey your parents every day. O-B-E-Y, obey your Mum and Dad.” (The Donut Man)
And when she’s desperately weepy and emotional she now asks me to sing
I know that worship music resets my attitude, so why not my toddler’s too?
This certainly doesn’t mean we never have any negative emotions in our home, it just means it cuts down a little bit on the melodramatic arguments and allows us both to reset slightly.
This is about training ourselves in Biblical joy
Joy is not just a happy feeling and we probably all know that, but what is it?
In Psalm 103 David is telling his soul to bless the Lord. Many times he didn’t feel like it and he was stuck in a far worse situation than you know, getting peas when he wanted mash potato, but this is where it starts.
We are training our toddlers/ children to choose how they react by choosing a positive attitude when they would rather throw themselves on the floor.
We are training ourselves, because when we choose Biblical joy and thanksgiving in our mundane, grumpiness or disaster, yes, it makes us feel better but it also opens the door for God to work.
Grumbling, whining, complaining, is slamming the door on our miracle, whatever that may be.
It might not look like it right now and here, but it’s setting a pattern and one day our ‘life defining moment’ as John Bevere calls them in Honor’s Reward, will arise and our pattern of either grumbling or thanksgiving will be set.
The Israelites grumbled and they missed out on the promised land. It wasn’t a once off, it was a pattern long established.
Thanksgiving precedes the miracle
Ann Voskamp says this in her book One Thousand Gifts, how Jesus broke the bread, gave thanks and it multiplied.
Then I heard a missionary to Asia sharing on Sunday, about how he’d crossed the border into a different country after a long train ride to get a passport for his son.
He didn’t realise it was a public holiday and when he got there the Australian consulate was closed and he was fuming mad and about ready to hit the button into the lift and leave. But he stopped and disciplined his soul according to the word of God that he should give thanks in his trials.
He made himself sing. You know that old song, put on a garment on praise for a spirit of heaviness. Sang and danced in the hallway and g e n t l y pressed that button into the lift.
There was a woman in the lift. From the Australian consulate. Who helped him get the passport for his son. What are the chances?
He gave thanks, chose joy, chose to dance and when you do dig deep and look at the Greek and Hebrew words for joy, it’s about moving, dancing, declaring God’s goodness despite the circumstance. It’s not passive.
We train our children: we train ourselves, and it is in them seeing us train ourselves that they realise we aren’t perfect. My children are still so young, and I’m preaching to myself sister.
When we model apologies to our children; perhaps it is easier for them to say sorry and mean it?
When we teach them a song about the fruit of the spirit and then when we are less than kind, gentle or joyful they remind us of the song.
We teach them how a gentle answer turns away wrath, turn it into a video with actions to share on the internet and the next day can’t hardly live it out.
And she knows. Reminds me.
Some would say it’s insolence . . . but is it just authenticity?
My parents didn’t pretend to be perfect. They told it how it was. We didn’t go to church every Sunday and they didn’t make us come all the time either. Shocking, I know.
Mum read us the Bible, we memorised it, we wrote it. We asked hard questions; she didn’t always know the answer and told us so. We read big books, explored deep issues.
Somehow they raised children who knew how to really pray.
Is it because we saw them cry out hard questions and saw miracle answers even when it wasn’t what we expected? There were crazy prayers and crazy answers.
There was much prayer, period. Prayer can be our most incredible weapon. Prayer from God’s Word can take it even deeper. We are agreeing with His Word and it won’t return void, but will accomplish what it was sent out to do.
My children are still little, and I’d love to hear how you are training your children in the ways of God?