Terri and I have a famous parental prayer that we have prayed many times beyond the most frequently prayed, "HELP GOD!" We seriously asked the Lord to teach our children major lessons of life through minor failures or setbacks in life. That God would not allow that devastating events and breakdowns be necessary for them and us to get into the frames of mind and spirit that He desired. (And...as I write this...I realize that there have been a few devastating events that have occurred in our extended family that don't seem to relate to a need to "learn a lesson". I insert this because this is obviously not a rigid law of life that I am addressing here.)
In those moments in which they would come face to face with their vulnerability as a weak human being, we, as parents, would seek to be alert and then uncover "the bigger redemptive story" that God was possibly (sometimes even clearly) intending to write on their hearts through their poor choices, the injustices of others toward them or challenging/painful circumstances beyond anyone's control. And...it seems to us as we now look back that He really honored that prayer big time.
One way to take advantage of this "training tool" is to take the time with our kids in those teachable moments to to talk openly and personally with them about what they are experiencing--conviction of sin, shame, embarrassment, disappointment, rejection, isolation, failure, anger, fear, despair, vengeance, envy, etc. and then help them find in Jesus and in Scripture the truths and experiences that will comfort and release their hurting hearts into the Father's hands. These moments can be too easily minimized, discounted and overlooked--often because of the emotional awkwardness's for both us and our kids that are typically associated with them. It is this tension that we must confront and surmount to minister to their need if we are to succeed in this particular point of training. And for another reason...dare I mention the speed of our lifestyles?
I remember many times in which my children (both at younger and older ages) would end up in my arms with tears of relief rolling down their cheeks because they felt they could interact directly and freely with us and, more profoundly, with God--the Biggest Daddy--who absorbs the pains of our lives into His Being and mysteriously comforts us in the "melting down" process of it all.
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I am a child of God, husband, father, grandfather, spiritual father, author, speaker and hope coach.