Tag Archives: daughters

The Bond of Peace | Part 2

This is the second half of a devotional I taught at my church’s Mother-Daughter Banquet last month, the first half can be found here. 

The first half shows us that our need for God is of the utmost importance within our mother daughter relationships and urges us to live out the traits of lowliness, meekness, longsuffering, and forbearance. It is also a call to look towards our specific God given vocations as purpose for striving towards healthier relationships and supporting one another in our races for Him. The next half will outline a few of the specific commands given to children and parents in the Bible.

We will start with the passage Ephesians 6:1-4

Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. 

As I pointed out in the first post, both commands to children and parents point back to the Lord. He is the ultimate balance and guidance for our relationships. The two commands given to children are to obey and honor their parents. There is only one condition attached to this and it is not “-if what they say is easy” “-if what they say works for you” “-if what they say doesn’t intrude on what you want”. No the only condition is that you obey them “in the Lord”. Sadly there are abusive parents out there and if you are in need of help to get out of that situation then seek it immediately, but for most parent-child relationships this is not the case. I’m not saying all parents are perfect, or right all of the time. They most definitely are not, but if what they have told you to do doesn’t go against the Bible or God’s true will for your life, then we are commanded to obey. This may seem like a great tool for parents to use to get their way, but it is not, more about that in a bit.

The second command we are given actually doesn’t have any condition attached to it. Honor can be another word for respect. We are commanded to respect our parents, no matter what. Respect does not mean we have to love them, does not mean we have to obey them, but it does mean we have to acknowledge those relationships, the weight of parenthood, and treat them at the very least, as well as you would any other human being. Unfortunately, many times since children are most comfortable being exactly who they are, emotions fully unleashed, with their parents, that disrespect and attitude permeate their interactions. This goes completely against what God  has commanded us to do. Even when our parents are wrong, or are upsetting us, or their rules are “totally uncool”, we still must speak and act respectfully towards them. Realize that they are flawed humans, just as you are, and are just trying their best. No one wants criticisms shouted back at them when they make a mistake, and no one will compromise or even listen to a different side of the story if it is laced with rude remarks and a closed mindedness. This is when we must step back and remember to not think of ourselves as better than anyone else, to purpose in our hearts and minds that we want to have good communication and honesty with one another, and remember that just as God is working on your parents in that moment, He is also working on your longsuffering and patience as well. God actually gives  us a promise that if we follow this command, our souls will be well and our days long on the earth. The Holy Spirit inside of us will feel unsettled, we will bear emotional scars and baggage, and we won’t be able to enjoy our day to day life if we are constantly butting heads and disrespecting our parents. Many of us bear the scars of our upbringing not because our parents weren’t perfect and damaged our psyches, but because we are unable to honor their effort and forgive that very fact.

Even though most of this passage is speaking to children, the commands are fairly simple. These are the commands given for us to follow in relationship to our earthly parents, however the entire Bible is showing us how to live as children of God and that is where our focus should be. The simplicity of these commands fits the maturity and capabilities of their intended audience. The nuanced and complicated command here is to the parents. The weight and responsibility of bringing up a child in a way that both honors God and prepares them for their own walk is unfathomable to a child until they experience it themselves. But hopefully this gives a little more insight to them and direction to parents.

We all know of funny warning labels we’ve seen on products right?

chainsaw

Well, they are there for a reason. Someone, somewhere, didn’t realize the obvious and hence the warning label was warranted. I think this applies to Eph 6:4 as well. God wouldn’t warn us as parents to not provoke our children to wrath if it weren’t bound to happen. Also in Colossians 3:21 we are warned not to provoke our children to anger or else they will be discouraged. I think a huge step in the right direction when parenting is to acknowledge this will happen. We have to stop acting like we are perfect, like we know what we are doing in every situation, like we have it all together all of the time. We don’t! No one does! It doesn’t mean we stop striving for the best we can give, but it does mean we have to admit when we are wrong. I think it would be a healthy move to discuss with our children ahead of time that we will make mistakes, and tell them that if they truly feel angered, wronged, or discouraged to come to us so we can discuss it. And then we have to be willing to listen to their feelings. I know it’s quicker and easier to lay down the law, no questions asked, and expect them to comply but we’re not dictators and we’re not God. We have to show what truly living with God’s grace and mercy looks like, and give our children a living example of how to right our wrongs and how to live out the traits of lowliness, meekness, longsuffering, and forbearance.

I feel many times we mess up when we are at our weakest, the end of our earthly limit to the hardships of life, adulthood, parenthood, and everything in between. We must learn to live out these principals and show children what it’s like to lean on God in our weakness. It’s worth it to point out that this command also has no conditions attached. God is telling us to not provoke our children to wrath or discouragement, period. Not only when they are following the rules, only when they are achieving the desired results in school or extracurricular activities, only when they are respectful to you. No, we are to live in God’s strength no matter our children’s reactions to us and life in general. This can be incredibly hard but if we expect it of our children, we must expect it of ourselves as well. We are not living this way based on the people around us and their reactions, we are living this way for God.

So how should we be parenting our children? God answers that in the latter half of verse 4, “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Quick definitions here-

Nuture- used as a noun here, not a verb, so the meaning is the care and attention given to someone or something as it develops; the sum of the environmental factors influencing the behavior and traits expressed by an organism

Admonition- a gentle or friendly reproof, a counsel or warning against fault or oversight

So, we must bring our children up in an environment of the Lord with gentle counsel from the Lord when they are going astray. Just as we are commanded in Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” The word train here is rooted to the word catechise which means “To instruct by asking questions, receiving answers, and offering explanations and corrections.” So it’s not what we may think of training as some harsh process like basic training or physical training, but instead a communication process sort of like the Socratic method. This allows the child and parent to work together in reasoning and teasing out the right, Biblical answer, instead of a direct order of right or wrong with the child not understanding why. While yes, there are certain times that children need to just accept right and wrong, as they get older and move out from under the parental protection, they will need to know the reasons backing up what they were taught. If they are not, then they will easily depart from the ways of the Lord because they are not connected to it. I’ve seen this happen so many times, and lived it in my own life as well.

This is not to say children shouldn’t be punished, far from it,  both Proverbs 13:24 and 19:18 acknowledge that there is a time and place for punishment and reproof. However, I feel there is not enough calm communication and explanation included with the punishment.

The nurture and admonition in our passage references back to Abraham and the commands that were given to the nation of Israel in the Old Testament, Genesis 18:19. From there, there are three specific instances referenced, Deuteronomy 4:9-10, Deuteronomy 6:6-7, and Joshua 24:15. I’ll talk more about these in the next post. I wasn’t expecting a Part 3, but this is already long, and I don’t want to rush it. Many blessings my friends!

The Bond of Peace

I gave a devotional a few weeks back at my church’s Mother-Daughter Banquet which was my first time really sharing something that God had placed on my heart for a long time. The title comes from the passage that first spoke to me when praying about this event and that is Ephesians 4:1-6

“I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”

Now, I knew this wasn’t a passage specifically about mothers and daughters but more about Christians in general getting along with one another and working together despite our human flaws. But as I reflected on what a mother daughter dynamic tends to be, especially in the teen years, a bond of peace seemed like a beacon of hope. That is what I want with my daughter some day, and that is what I needed when I was a teen. I started to wonder, why is it that as little children we all love our moms, then as teens we tend to lash out, rebel, push away, and then once we’ve grown, matured, possibly had kids of our own, find our way back to loving and appreciating our moms. I know every relationship is different, and I was very nervous to share my thoughts because I didn’t have a great relationship with my mom as a teen but it is improving. And I know I held back some thoughts or illustrations during my talk 1) because it was already pretty long and covering a lot and 2) because it’s hard to find a balance of how much to share about my life/my perspective while respecting my mom as well. After much prayer, studying, more prayer, worry, nervousness, more prayer, and a deep breath, I laid it out there. Here is the beginning…

First, a few definitions from our passage because I can be a word nerd and like knowing not just the general idea behind a word but the nuanced meaning behind why God decided it had to be that particular word and not another similar one.

Vocation- A summons or strong inclination to a particular state or course of action.

Lowliness- the absence of any feelings of being better than others

Meekness- a quiet and gentle nature, not wanting to fight or argue. Enduring injury with patience and without resentment

Forbearance- a refraining from the enforcement that is due; A calm patience especially under provocation

Peace- a state in which there is no war or fighting; a harmony in personal relations

The first idea that struck me in this passage was the request that we walk worthy of the vocation God is calling us too. Vocation does not necessarily mean our careers or where we are employed. Being a mother is a vocation. If God has given you a child through pregnancy or adoption then He has called you to be the mommy to that child. So daughters must understand when our parents, moms in particular, are guiding us and setting limits that it is because God has called them to train us up in His ways. But as mothers, we also have to remember that God is calling our daughters to their own vocation and we do not know what that is. I know as parents, we all want to see our children be successful, but unfortunately too many of us define success by earthly standards. We want our children to go to college, get fancy degrees, have “respectable” careers that fit our ideals, but that’s not necessarily what God wants for them. I know many mothers and daughters who have struggled because where the daughter is feeling lead is not what the mother had in mind. I love that peace is defined as harmony in personal relations. Harmony is not two people playing the same note, it is two people playing complimentary notes to one another. One is melody, the lead, and the other is harmony, the support.

I think one of the hardest aspects of parenting is discerning when it is our place to be the lead and when we need to switch to harmony in our children’s lives and let God become their lead. As parents, control over our children’s lives is something we lose a little more of each day, and it’s a test in our faith in God because it was never about us. Our children were given to us by the Lord for a short while and we must do our best to guide and lead them with our own walks and teachings, but at some point we must let the arrow go. And as daughters, we must know the importance of following, learning, and trusting in God before we can step out on our own. We must realize the privilege it is to be alive, and to be serving our Lord, and seek out His Will and vocation for our lives not what mainstream media and society says is success. It is so hard to be a child or teen and be different than the world, set apart, and called for a divine purpose. God has given you parents for this reason, a direct line of support, advice, and leadership in meandering through the minefield of adolescence but it is our human nature to fight that and push it away.

Both mother and daughter must not think they are better than one another, must purpose in their hearts that they do not want to fight, and must be patient through it all without resentment. I know that’s tough but it is necessary, for both parties. I think the hardest part is to continue without resentment. Holding grudges and anger inside of us truly eats away at our souls. We must learn to see each other through God’s eyes and forgive as God forgives. We are all parts of the body of Christ and we must work together for His glory. In our physical bodies, our major muscles are set up so that there are always opposing forces, one push muscle, one pull muscle. The only way to move is for one to yield to another, to allow the action the working muscle is trying to accomplish to take place. It’s hard to see which member in the mother daughter relationship should be doing the yielding or should be doing the work, but God gives us the answer to this.

When we look for passages in the Bible associated with parents and children many times Colossians 3:20-21 and Ephesians 6:1-4 come to mind. In Ephesians, both commands to children and to parents end with a direction back to the Lord. God is our balance, our counselor when there is a struggle. He is the one both mothers and daughters should be turning to in order to find that bond of peace. If both are believers then God in them wants to be at peace with the other. The anger, resentment, rebellion, and hate are not from Him, they are of the devil, placed there to hinder the bond between sisters in Christ, to hold both of them back in their race for the Lord. We can’t allow this to happen. I urge both moms and daughters to look past the outside evidence and emotion and see that deep down there is love there for one another. That each others actions are rooted in love and any misunderstanding or clashing of opinions is not meant to cause harm but to do good.

Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.” God perfectly designed a child for the parents. Not only do the parents have life experiences and wisdom that God knew that child would specifically need guidance with but also God designed that child to challenge the parent, their faith, and their character. We wonder why our children know just how to push our buttons or drive us crazy. God created them that way to show us where we still need work to be more like Him. Because guess what? We challenge God, we fight, we rebel, we push against His Will, we run away, we yell and scream and cry and wonder why us? We can be the moodiest of teenagers in our walk with the Lord at times… and sometimes, it takes a teenager or toddler to point that out to us in a very visceral way. But God still loves us. Just as we must still love our children. Not just the “I love you because you’re my child” love but the I love you because I see your struggle, your pain, your abilities, your opinions, and I see you fighting with the Lord and His Will and learning the hard way, and I’ve been there too. It’s usually at the times that we are most pushing away help and love either from a mother or from God that we are most hurt, confused, upset, and in need of that exact love. God is strong and gracious enough to take the punches, forgive, and still love and fight for us, are we as moms able to be like that for our own children?  And daughters can we trust that the limits set by our mothers, their wishes, and the experiences we have with them are all overseen by God and will ultimately shape us into who God wants us to be? Neither mother or daughter can do this alone, which is why we still need God living and breathing into our lives everyday.

So what exactly does God specifically command to children and parents? That will be part two, coming soon! I know I included it in the lesson that day but I felt like it was too much for one post, and probably too much for that one lesson, but I trust God worked through my mess of a talk anyways. Many blessings, my friends!