Rethinking The Racial Issues

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Last night, I had a disturbing dream.  I dreamed that I was a slave and living under harsh and horrible circumstances.  I awoke, thinking it was odd I was dreaming about such a matter.  I could only chalk it up to weird pregnancy hormones because this had not been a current topic of conversation or thought for me.

I have also come to see that God has in different situations revealed truths to me through some of my dreams. In this case, I wondered if it was to turn my thoughts towards important issues in regards to today’s racial tensions and issues.  Otherwise, I am sure I would not have been thinking about such a topic early this morning.

As I began to think about today’s racial issues, I began to realize anew that the conflicts and dilemmas we face as a nation in regards to this matter continue to our present.  We think we have made progress, and we have in many ways.  Yet, there are many issues that remain, and the heart issue persists.

As I pondered this, I realized with great sadness that it is because two groups of people still have unresolved conflict.  One group of people has truly never fully “owned” or claimed responsibility nor repented for the grievances of its people enacted on another race.

The other group of people still harbors much bitterness and unforgiveness towards the group of people who committed such gross atrocities against themselves and their ancestors.

What is not recognized is that unforgiveness perpetrates the crime.  It keeps the unforgiving group imprisoned by its own bitterness.

The other group remains “imprisoned” through their own lack of repentance.

The evidence is before us.  We see a culture of co-dependency.  This speaks of great bondage.

One people group is still being kept under another form of oppression or “slavery” because the other people group has treated them as sub-standard, less capable, less intelligent, and as dependents upon themselves for survival.  Creating or causing another group to become dependent upon us unnecessarily can also reveal an attitude of superiority.

The other people group perhaps subtlety enjoys the feeling of power and a false sense of worth by keeping the other group co-dependent upon themselves.

There are reasons why it is sometimes good to give some assistance so that a person or group has opportunity or at least the same resources to succeed.  Yet, too much assistance actually is an injustice.  It victimizes and produces weakness and dependence.

For example, as a parent, if I do everything for a child who is capable of doing things for himself, I speak of disrespect and distrust towards him/her.  I will, in the long term, create weakness and dependence in my child and will ultimately lead to that child having less ability to succeed.  A child to whom I give responsibility and much trust speaks of respect and worth and independence.

It is not an honor for my husband to be demoted to a job that requires little or no skill.  It is an honor when he gets a job promotion that speaks of authority and requires skill and trust on the employer’s part.

Yet, we think by giving unnecessary assistance, we are helping one people group to be given opportunity.  I would challenge this actually speaks of great disrespect and dependence and reveals a major heart issue at stake.

Our heart attitudes are still regressive when it comes to how we treat one people group verses the other.

Have we not as a nation expected nothing more from one people group then to be barely above the capabilities of the lowest sector of the other people group (African-Americans lumped in with “White Trash”)?

I know this is a sticky subject, and if misunderstood, many may react to this.

Why is this so sensitive in nature?  Because there are still so many hurts and abuses.  Why is that?  Because this nation has truly not healed from generational sins that have been passed on for decades.  There is still unresolved conflict because the heart issue hasn’t been truly recognized and resolved.

What is the solution?  Following my dream, I had a picture of the one group of people lining up city to city, suburb to suburb, across from the other people group.  One group of people steps forward and with sincerity and humbleness owns up to the grievances from past generations and ongoing grievances that have and are being inflicted on the other people group.  Forgiveness is asked with tears and true repentance.  The other people group then steps forward and extends hugs with tears and simply states, “I forgive you.  I forgive your people.  I forgive your ancestors.”

Do you know what such an occurrence would do?!!!

Then new policies would need to be set forward.  This time with respect and healing and opportunity in mind.  Both people groups coming together for the purpose of bringing healing and restoration.

Until we truly recognize that the way we have dealt with social issues among the races continues to perpetrate a dependency and therefore spirit of bondage between one people group to another, we as a nation have yet to heal and to deal with the racial tensions that have plagued our nation.

Co-dependency speaks of bondage and unresolved conflicts.  It reveals that the heart of our nation has yet to heal.

May we as a people be convicted and enlightened as to the truth of these matters.  May true healing finally transform this nation into a nation that is truly “One Nation Under God … indivisible… with life and liberty for all…”

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When It Is Okay To NOT “Protect” Your Child

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Last evening, two of my boys had soccer practice.  As usual, I loaded up the soccer balls, water bottles (boys brought their own), and folding lawn chairs.  I instructed each boy to dress warmly since it was cold outside.  I recommended long-sleeved shirts and jackets and even went so far as to find them both clothing items since we are still in the process of moving the seasonal clothing around in their drawers and closets.

My one son promptly dressed himself in the recommended clothing and was ready for practice without delay.  The other son ignored both mine and my husband’s instructions to dress warmer and to wear or at least bring a jacket.  He did neither.  Knowing how important natural consequences are, I took him the way he was to soccer practice.

As I thought would be the case, he immediately began to complain that he was cold.  I then gently reminded him that I had told him several times, as well as his father, to dress warmer but that he chose to disobey us and as a result was cold.  I encouraged him to listen to his parents next time, knowing that Daddy and Mommy give instructions that are for his good and well-being.

The compassionate Mommy side of me wanted to relieve him of his discomfort.  In fact, if his discomfort was a result of my negligence, then it would have been necessary and important for me to have immediately found a solution.  I would have probably removed my jacket and offered it to him and suffered as a result of my poor choices.

In this case, I knew that if I tried to relieve him of the discomfort that came as a consequence of his wrong choices, then he would continue to never learn the lesson.  As a Mom, this can be very tempting.  What we must ask ourselves though is, “How is this preparing him for when he must get his homework done in college, get himself out of bed for work, manage his checkbook, wash his dirty clothes as a single, pay his bills,” etc…?  In other words, if I always spare him from any discomfort, he will never be required to learn personal responsibility for his own actions.

I was grateful that I had just heard a radio program that morning, discussing something very similar to this situation.  It was a great reminder to me, going into this situation.

The responses of other parents to me in this situation were interesting.  One mom heard my son complaining he was cold and immediately offered her spare jacket to him.  In this situation, I did allow him to wear the jacket because I thought this was an opportunity for him to experience grace, which God so often demonstrates to us.  If God provided a solution, I wasn’t going to turn it down.  The mom though later said, “I always carry a spare jacket for when things like this happen.”  There wasn’t opportunity to properly respond to her comment so I let it go.  I couldn’t help but think though that if I had brought a spare jacket, my son would again have not learned the lesson.  In fact, I would have done him the injustice of teaching him that he doesn’t need to take responsibility for his wrong choices/actions because Mom will always “protect” him from the consequences of those very choices/actions.

A mom who is also a teacher was standing nearby so I asked for her input as to how to handle the situation.   She encouraged me to let him face the natural consequences of his actions, which I had determined to do.

The situation had escalated though.

My son went from complaining he was cold to then refusing to wear the jacket because it was too big, and he would be embarrassed.  I told him that he shouldn’t worry about what others thought but should do what is right for himself.  I also suggested rolling up the slightly too-long sleeves.  At this point, my son began to cry and refused to practice soccer.

Ugh! There I sat, trying to figure out what to do.  I tried to firmly but reasonably talk to him but to no avail.  I then led him back to our car.  There, I more firmly warned him of the further consequences of his choices/actions.  (We had paid a lot of money for the kids to be enrolled in soccer so his refusing to practice was a loss of our investment.)  I told him that he would not be allowed to watch movies (his favorite activity) for the rest of the week and that I would have to speak to his daddy about further consequences should he refuse to practice soccer.  I told him that we had invested a lot of money for him to play, and it was not okay for him to refuse when he was perfectly capable of practicing.

I then encouraged him to make the right choice and to practice with his friends.  I reminded him that movie time would not be removed should he obey.  My son refused.  When I tried to lead him to the soccer field, he dug in his heels.  Now, I was really in a predicament.

I didn’t want to leave my son, standing alone by the car and freezing without a jacket.  I also knew that I couldn’t carry him to the soccer field.  So, I firmly but calmly explained that I was not going to drag him kicking and screaming to the field, but that until he chose to do the right thing, he would be standing by himself in the cold.  I encouraged him to join me, where he would be safer and warmer.  I then walked away.  What a tough place!

I sat down and watched my other son practice soccer, while at the same time, trying to keep an eye on my child, standing by our car.  At one point, I saw another set of foot-prints near him and immediately walked over to check on him.  Another mom was trying to persuade him to come. I watched patiently while feeling like the father of the Prodigal Son, wanting so desperately to swing him up into my arms and to wrap warmth around him.  The other mom finally managed to get him to walk to me, which is when I mouthed, “Thank you!”.  I have no idea what she thought of me, but sometimes it does take another person removed from the situation to help positive progress to occur.  I was too close to the situation and had come to represent the person who wanted my son to do something he didn’t want to do so I was not as effective.

My poor son stood there shivering and blue with cold.  We did persuade him to put on the jacket.  He still refused though to practice soccer, complaining he was too cold.  I tried to encourage him that he would get warmer if he played and to point out that all his friends were playing and no one looked cold.  This was to no avail.

I didn’t yield to the temptation to coddle him or remove some of the consequences because other moms didn’t understand and thought I was “cruel” or something.  I did rub his hands for him to warm them and then gently reminded him that because he had still refused to practice, movie time was still removed for the rest of the week.

I share this with humility.  I know that there may be those who will pick apart what I did and think that they could have said or done something differently or better.  Perhaps, they could have.  What I am learning though is that God created me to be me and to be this child’s mother.  I need to obey God alone in the way I conduct myself — not discipline or parent in a way that pleases all the other parents watching.  I am also learning that being a good parent doesn’t prevent all problems from occurring.  Disciplining correctly doesn’t mean my child won’t ever embarrass me or misbehave in public. 

I also learned that being a good mom doesn’t mean that I “protect” my child from every discomfort, hardship, or pain in life.  By trying to relieve my child from feeling the discomforts of his wrong choices, I may be actually putting him at greater risk/harm’s way because he will not understand how our choices do carry consequences with them.  My son should make wiser choices that will protect him if he learns that consequences are a natural occurrence of our choices.

I want my son to develop into a mature, young man, who has learned how to make wise choices that result in positive results.  I want to help my son develop personal self-control.  I want my son to develop fortitude, courage, responsibility, and faithfulness.

Sometimes, the best choice — not the easiest — is to NOT “protect” your child but to give them the opportunity to develop their own strength of good and godly character.

For The Desperate Mom

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I finally finished reading the book, Desperate, by Sarah Mae & Sally Clarkson.  I found the book so beneficial that I bought two more copies and mailed them to friends.  My copy of the book has notes all over the margins.  There are so many paragraphs and sentences underlined.  Many stars and exclamation marks decorate the book as well.  I don’t normally mark up my books so this book definitely made an impression on me — a very good one.

I wanted to include some more quotes from the book, taken from the last two chapters I read.  If you haven’t read the book, I highly recommend it.

“Having little ones is a season … children, Lord-willing, do grow up.”

“A mama’s primary domain is her home. …your first and main purpose is to deeply invest in the souls He’s given you, and you will struggle immensely if you do not have resolve regarding your role as a mother.”

“…there is nothing more important or sacred than being an intentional mother whose time is focused in the home.”

“Give in to your season of life. … the more you allow yourself to be fully and completely invested in the discipling of your children, the less defeated you will feel.”

“…the forming of their souls is a hard, long-distance race.”

“The work of motherhood was the way He wanted me to serve and love Him.  I have always found my source for this inspiration in the way Jesus was willng to lay aside His life to serve and love His disciples and those around Him, and to invest in their lives.”

“…are you choosing in your life to cling to God’s goodness and instruction in righteousness?  Is your heart turned toward Him in a posture of trust and submission, as an earthly child to your heavenly parent?  Is your own soul being formed by His Word and the power of the Holy Spirit?  The call to train up a child is more than a one-time choice; it is a day-to-day, long-term commitment to shape your children, the greatest gift that God has given you stewardship over.  The attitudes and choices you practice now in your day-to-day walk will determine your ability to endure the distance in your ideals.”

“…develop a heart of contentment and trust in God’s faithfulness.”

“…turn your heart toward joy, and celebrate the goodness that God brings into all parts of your life.”

“…engage your heart in God’s grace.’

“….seek to love them and to see the potential in them, knowing that in whomever God begins a work, He will be faithful to complete it in His time.”

“…turn your heart toward being faithful to the end, knowing that God will never leave or forsake you in your journey.”

“…a mother … a warrior who will not give up or cease to keep fighting the battle for her children’s souls.”

“Your labor is not in vain.”

“…overcoming is always rewarded with great blessing.”

“…God wants us to be those who prevail, who are willing to engage in the fight and to hold fast, waiting for His blessing.”

“…don’t measure your worth to God by the times you fail.”

“He is committed to helping me grow.”

“…faith is the key element of the power behind my commitment to be a good mom.”

“He weaves the beautiful thread of redemption through the pattern of your life.”

“…to live within the limitations of your own family puzzle in such a way that cooperates with your personality and with the gifts God has given you.  There is no one ‘right way’ or formula to follow for every family, mother, or child.  Live in the freedom of faith and the abundant life Jesus came to provide.  Understand that children are a gift.”

“…seek to enjoy your children and love them and you will be happier…”

“Filling my mind with truth is the attitude adjustment I usually need.”

“God is the only who can meet your needs.”

“Begin and end your day with prayer.”

“Pray for your husband and children.”

“Cultivate a heart of gratitude.”

“Do not practice comparing your life or limitations to others.  What you water the most is what will grow, and the weeds of a whining spirit will choke your own joy.”

“Create a cheerful atmosphere.”

“There’s nothing like living day to day with children to show you exactly where your own soul still needs work!”

“When you see motherhood as your service of worship to Him and that how you treat your children is your obedience to Him, it gives more importance to treating your children as He would.”

“Remember, training and maturity take time.”

“…give them a foundation of security in their relationship with you…”

“…loving my children, and my husband, was more about my choosing to love them and to extend God’s grace every moment I could decide to do that, and not an issue of how I felt.”

“…failure does not ever have to define us.  Failure and pain become foundations for wisdom and understanding and strength to face life’s battles.”

“…discipline is an issue of training, little by little, year after year.”

“Children are more likely to respond to discipline if they feel loved and affirmed.”

“…many moms try to micromanage every single behavioral issue with their children and feel a need to win every battle, especially when they are young.”

“I should have enjoyed my kids instead of worrying whether I was always doing it right.”

“Do not expect it to be static [the home environment], and you will not be as impatient.  This is a home first, and homes have life and the swaying of days and growth and love.”

“…it is never too late for Christ to change things around in the lives of our children.”

“Choose words that heal, bring life, and empower those in your life.”

These were such excellent thoughts and advice!  They were so timely, following a stressful situation with a son at soccer practice.  It was so encouraging to know that I can kindly and firmly enact consequences, but that I can also remember that such challenging moments don’t define our children permanently nor our success as a parent.  Rather, it is those moments that give us opportunity to walk by faith, to walk in grace, and to walk with unconditional love towards our children.  May desperation no longer define us!