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One Last Call for Hope

hope

“The nature of human beings is to be inactive unless influenced by some affection:  love or hatred, desire, hope, fear, etc.  Those affections are the ‘spring of action,’  the things that set us moving in our lives, that move us to engage in activities.”  — Jonathon Edwards

“We have this (hope) as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul…”  –Hebrews 6:19


This post was originally written in 2014, but seems appropriate to post again.

While written as the final part of a 3 part series to encourage us to parent out of hope instead of fear, the quote above is helpful in understanding this last season in American life as well.  Many finally felt heard (hope) under President Obama, while many felt threatened (fear).  Many feel finally heard (hope) with the election of President Trump, while many feel threatened (fear).  It would have been the same had the white house gone the other way.

A quick glance at the news or your Facebook feed shows us how these affections, as Edwards call them, lead us to action.  That’s not to say that these feelings aren’t justified at times.  However, the question we have to answer, in both parenting and politics, is it possible to cultivate affections (the kinds we want to determine our actions and therefore our lives) apart from current circumstances?  Or for the purposes of the post here, is there a source of hope that speaks louder than any fear we might have?

I think the quote above is right that we are naturally inactive unless provoked by the above affections.   What ‘springs of action’ are you allowing to take root in your heart and life?

“Every decision we make today will be driven by fear or love.  Who we toss the keys to determines a lot about the destination.”  –Bob Goff


October 7, 2014

I never intended to write more than one post on fear and hope, but as I’ve gone about my days I’ve found that many people need hope in a very real way in their lives right now.

I need hope.

Let’s be honest, we live in a world where fear can easily be an influence in the way we live our daily lives.  If it’s not personal fears specific to your day, it’s Ebola or the Islamic State!

Currently, as a youth pastor and a dad of two young girls (now three!), I need hope.  I’ve seen enough and been in enough counseling situations to know what this world is capable of.  I’ve seen the students who are truly good kids get swept away in the currents of adolescence.  And here’s where it gets tricky:  If I allow fear to rule the day on this as I think about my own kids, I will go crazy!

I have no choice but to surrender to God my worries and fears and declare that I ultimately have no control over the future.

But this isn’t a passive surrender, it’s a daily surrender.  It’s daily choosing hope over fear.  It’s actively letting hope determine my thoughts, motivations, and actions.  And this hope brings about drastically different results than fear.

It’s a ‘spring of action’ that allows hope to grow into confidence.  Confidence into rest and trust.  It becomes an anchor that can handle the realities of this world, knowing that God can influence the future and ultimately already has!

“Happy is the one whose hope is in the Lord” (Ps 146:5) isn’t just a scripture to be memorized, it’s a real state that motivates how we live our lives.  Sure, Ebola and ISIS gives pause and cause for concern, but “I have this hope that anchors my soul.”  I will not be shaken.

An Exercise to Determine Your Motivations

In the above quote, Edwards states that we would all be inactive if it were not for our “affections”, as he calls them.  What motivates your actions – love, hope, fear, hate or a softer version of hate?

TRY THIS:

Examine your actions, simply writing down the things you do without any judgement.  At the end of the week sit down and pencil in a probable motivation for each action.  Try to be honest as you examine why you did what you did.

I would love to hear what you discover!

This was part 3 of a 3 part series.  To catch the other two posts click here:  Hope, Not Fear.  Hope, Not Fear – Part II

(Exercise taken from a great book.  If you are looking for a book to stir affections in your spiritual life, this book is a great option –

How to Ignore the Noise and Focus On What Really Matters

busy

“It is difficult to overstate the unimportantance of practically everything.”

As parents, our lives are just naturally busy.

Things change without warning.

Distractions are limitless!

It’s no wonder that research, articles, and books are constantly noting that we, as a society (and as parents), have essentially traded long-term thinking in for short-term, “just-make-it-through-the-day” thinking.  And it’s not serving us well.  The minute we start thinking about something we want to begin addressing long term, we get distracted by an email about soccer practice changing times and the consequences of that on the rest of our day.  In the process we often don’t get back to the important, long-term thinking.

If the above quote is true and there are few things in life that are truly essential – few that truly matter, then how do we train ourselves to begin to invest time into those things and ignore the noise?

“People overestimate what they can do in one day and underestimate what they can do in 10 years.”

Greg McKeown

First, we need to quit putting so much pressure on today and remember that what is done over time is more important.  Not only is it more important, it has a longer shelf life.  If we are willing to do small things over time, the cumulative effect will be far greater than what we can accomplish in one moment.  Anyone else tried to download an entire life lesson in a moment of frustration?  It’s been building and next thing you know you lecturing your child on a major life lesson in the checkout line at Target.  You ultimately know this doesn’t work, but you desperately want them to be growing into the right type of person, so all the pressure falls on getting it right today.  However, major life lessons are best served over time.
(Check out 6 Things Over Time Every Kid Needs for more on this idea.)

Second, identify one thing that you believe is essential and start to work on it.  Just pick one at this point.  Remember, since we are no longer overestimating what can be done in a day and we are done with underestimating cumulative effect, we are going to be starting really small and trusting this will build over time.  So, pick one thing that has value in the long-term and identify one small thing you can do today to start working on it.  (Our brains actually work against us here, check out Play the Long Game to learn more.)

Third, remove some distractions.  Bob Goff is someone I greatly admire and he has a great way to help us here – it’s called Quit Thursday.  The idea is simple, every Thursday look for something you can quit.  It’s funny how when you start doing it you look forward to Thursday and figuring out what else you can quit.  I’ve quit some small bad habits, but I’ve also made some big decisions.  Most recently I’ve deleted a time sucking app on my phone and quit watching a TV series that was stealing too much valuable time.  Bob has resigned from a Board on a Thursday.  The possibilities in our distracted lives are endless…So, what are you going to quit this Thursday?

Here’s what I know to be true – you have what it takes!  You are more than capable of accomplishing incredible things, especially as we take the pressure off getting it all right today and leveraging the cumulative effect of time.

It’s Good to Be Known

known

“Sometimes you want to go…

where everybody knows your name

and they’re always glad you came.”

We all want to be known.  It’s just wired in us.

When it comes to parenting, how do you get to know your kids?

I’ll never forget the AHA moment where I realized I needed to get to know my kids better.  I have two kids close in age and for weeks they were both a little clingy/needy, they were both melting down way to often, and I was doing my best disciplining and redirecting.  My efforts weren’t working, so I had to try to figure this out.

As I begin to pay attention, I noticed that one was desperately needing attention and the other was needing reassurance.  It’s as if the older one was asking, “Can I please have some attention?” and the younger was needing comfort, in a sense, asking “Am I going to be ok?” but all I was hearing or seeing were behavior problems.  There was a new baby in the house and life was busy, and if I hadn’t slowed down to get to know them, I might have missed this and grown in my frustration.

When it comes to faith, being and feeling known matters.

If you’ve been around middle school kids, this is very evident.  As they enter a room full of other middle school kids, they scan the room – looking – asking – “Where do I belong?  Where am I known?  Where am I safe?”   If they find it, they rush towards it.  If they don’t they are (noticeably) uncomfortable.

It makes sense that before a young person can really start to grappling with big ideas and concepts like faith, identity, meaning, hope…they need the sense of stability being known brings.  If they have the security and confidence of being known, they are much more willing to engage on a deeper level.  I watch a lot of kids spend their time chasing being known and rarely get the opportunity to be comfortable enough to consider issues around faith and life.

Here’s some help.

There’s a great project called, It’s Just a Phase (justaphase.com) and I want to share with you one element of their work in hopes that it will help you know your son or daughter just a little better!

In each phase, there’s a question that is central in a developmental sense.  As my example above indicated, these questions can be hiding under a lot of other behaviors and attitudes.  Once you know the question, you have a better shot of knowing and understanding your child.

In each phase, this is what each child wants to know:

Zero to One:  Am I safe?
One to Two:  Am I able?
Three to Four:  Am I okay?
Kinder to 1st grade:  Do I have your attention?
2nd to 3rd grade:  Do I have what it takes?
4th to 5th grade:  Do I have friends?
6th grade:  Who do I like?
7th and 8th grade:  Who am I?
9th grade:  Where do I belong?
10th grade:  Why should I believe?
11th grade:  How can I matter?
12th grade:  What will I do?

Next week I will share the One word that the project discovered that helps us engage these questions with our kids.  This week, take a moment and see if you can recognize this question in behavior or other areas of life.  Take a moment and answer this question, even if they aren’t verbally asking it, and see if it leads to some results.

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