Tuesday, July 10, 2012

On Either End of Wit

Last week, feeling like a kid about to blow out her birthday candles, I grabbed my “retreat notebook” and headed out the door on my way to a couple of nights alone, an invaluable gift from Jeff.  When I got settled, I pulled out my worn spiral, opened it up and saw this in fast, sloppy, oh so familiar handwriting,

“I have failed- over and over and over.  I do not want my children to be the person I am.  I don’t want them to live this ugly inconsistency that I experience.  I plead with You to bring me to a place I can say to them-- ‘Watch me!  Do as I do!  Respond how I respond.’  Father, what is my obstacle??”

Candles out.  All the friends around the table, gone.  Sobering.

Hmmm....  when was that?  It wasn’t dated but honestly, it could have been 2 years ago or 2 weeks ago.  Sometimes these journals, these scratchings depress me, because I find myself often on this merry go ‘round of questions.

I was feeling a little like that about my parenting at the beginning of my weekend away.  Earlier in the week I texted a friend, “I’ve to get a hold on my parenting!”  She shot back, “You know we both say that after every family vacation!”  She’s right. We do.  But what is it about raising kids, at home, on vacation, or anywhere that makes me as a grown woman feel so utterly helpless and incapable--- and the biggie-- and at wit’s end?

From Wiki-- “To have one’s wits about one is to be alert and capable of quick reasoning.  To be at the end of one’s wits is to be immensely frustrated.”   The two ends of the wit spectrum-- there I seem to live.  On either end of wit.  Alert and capable of quick reasoning.  Pure gold.  As fast as situations and conflict develop, there’s hardly room for contemplation before decision making.  We must depend on Holy Spirit to speak here.  This happens from time to time but the “immensely frustrated” edge of wit is at the end of a familiar, worn path.  The road in those yellow woods, taken.

I read such great insight and reminders from James Dobson from his two books, Bringing Up Boys and Bringing Up Girls.  So much of what I read or listened to {audio of Bringing Up Boys} was review-- much needed and critical review.  Some example are:

~Believe that I have the authority to be in charge and take it, but do this with much love and tenderness.
~Don’t move the the line!  He says nothing frustrates and confuses children {especially boys} when there is a moveable line.  Just don’t move it.  It creates insecurity.   Don’t make it if you are going to move it.
~Create as many opportunities for memories as possible, making close ties to home.  We cannot underestimate the power of this on our children’s hearts.
~Don’t interact with your children with “harshness, gruffness or sternness”.  Dr. Dobson calls for a “confident firmness”.  {Shame jeers at me here.}
~Dedicate as much time as needed for supervision and guidance, especially with boys who tend to “flounder in chaotic, undisciplined, and unsupervised conditions.”

If I could stay within these parenting boundaries more often than not, I could avoid the unhealthy end of wit.

As I wrote down more, I heard Jeff in my mind, remembering many of the parenting talks we’ve had.  With my expectations as high as they are for my children, I need to express more and more love to them AND acceptance of them AND enjoyment of them.  You’ve heard it-- High Discipline/High Love.  Dr. Dobson says the “unbeatable combination” for raising children is “the application of confident leadership and discipline at home tempered with love and compassion.”  So for me, practically, every time I exert my authority, I need to communicate love in some form or fashion-- in a way that speaks to my child’s heart.

I decided to read and study Colossians over these couple of days and in true Father form, He used His Word to enhance the parental reading I was doing.  He knows my burden and my desire.  I picked up a short study on Colossians by the Blackaby family.  I was encouraged by the prayers and each one is applicable to my needs in parenting.

Being fruitful in every good work- “To be fruitful means to be productive in ways that benefit or bless others.”  Much of the time, my works, my authority, and my discipline are fruitless and unproductive.  I want those things to benefit and bless my family first.  Only then can I bless others.

Strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy- “It is the Holy Spirit who strengthens us to endure all situations that we encounter in life, and to do so with an inner wellspring of joy that is unrelated to outer circumstances.”  Now, there’s a rub. “Unrelated to outer circumstances.”  How many times do I try to blame my “immense frustration” on the behavior of my children?  Teetering on the wrong end of wit? I wish I could say, “That’s so last decade!”  I’m 41, for Pete’s sake!  No more excuses!

Giving thanks to the Father-- This is eucharisteo.  And this is big.  Thankfulness to the Lord Almighty CAN change your life.

And from a related prayer in Philemon, “the hearts of the saints have been refreshed by you”.  I have two little saints in my home who, on many days, hardly feel “refreshed” by me.  But as their sister in Christ, that is something they need from me!  It sounds so elementary.  Who could forget to refresh their children with words, to speak words of life to them each day?  My hand goes up and I am asking the Lord to change it.

On either end of wit.  Alert and capable or immensely frustrated?  The path that must be earnestly sought after or the road most taken?  Words of grace and life or words of condemnation and death?  Walking in the Spirit or walking in my flesh?

May He answer this prayer from His Word.

“......asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10 And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”  Colossians 1:9-14


tanya said...

Someone shared something with me once. Not sure who. For all I know, it was you! She said (or typed), "Give yourself some grace."

Grace, grace! God's grace...

andrea said...

Thank you for sharing your heart and the struggles you face. I know it is hard to admit to shortcomings and sins opening with us all, so Praise God for your courage!

Boy, I can tell you that I find myself at the bad end of wit more often than I want (your note that you found could be one of my own) frustrated by a little 3 and 1.5 year old...but I also realize that it is not them but my sinful nature.

I heard a sermon on Romans 7 last month and it spoke to me and my parenting 'skills', just like your blog entry did.

'I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?

25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!