There are different ways to label disobedience and defiance is the label for our most recent issue. Defiance is not just disobedience, it is disregard. Back talk. It is challenging me in opposition.
It usually takes me about a week to notice that we are dealing with an issue like this. It could be noticing anger in the boys, fighting, fear, seeing discouragement in them, etc, but this week defiance is on the menu.
The way I finally wake up and notice we have an issue on our hands is that I find myself responding in harsh anger to the boys.
If I am having to raise my voice and my tone has to change to a harsh tone in order to get obedience, that is my red flag that a deeper issue is on our hands.
Take yesterday morning for example. I was in the bathroom, with the door locked, getting ready for the day. My son knocked on the door telling me I had four really long text messages. Ok I said, lay my phone down and I will deal with them when I am done getting ready. He said, "But Mom, they are really long" and kept on giving me some more reasons why I should open the door and take the texts. That is when I closed the deal by responding with the final line in the dialogue we were having. I did it by raising my voice and speaking in a harsh, authoritative tone and told him to put my phone down-I would deal with it when I was done getting ready. He finally obeyed but only after I got angry on the inside and spoke in an ugly tone.
That is one way to run the house and I hate that way. Having to yell or talk harshly to get obedience just creates the most ugly atmosphere in the home. Ick. We've been dealing with this issue for a good week so that means for a good week the atmosphere has been gross around here.
Yesterday I was so frustrated because I just wasn't sure how to handle the situation. How do I get this child to start obeying the first time? And that is not even the biggest issue for me. I wanted to figure out how to get to the bottom of the issue-some call it reaching the heart. Yes, I can demand first time obedience but the buck doesn't stop there. There are more layers to be addressed and I was at a loss.
Later yesterday morning we had some friends over to bake cookies together. It was almost time for them to leave and the candy centered cookies were hot out of the oven. I knew they needed to cool because the candy center is really hot and burns you if it is not completely cooled. My son was excited to call the other kids in to see their candy creations. I told him no-we will wait to call the kids in until the cookies are cooled. He started to call them in anyway. I blew my cork, sent him tearfully to his room, we said our goodbyes to our friends, and then I went in for some training time with my son.
Demanding first time obedience is one thing. Taking the time to get to the heart and explain why is another thing that takes time.
He was on his bed crying and feeling unheard. I had to pray for wisdom in talking because I was at a loss. With my Child Training Bible in hand, we got to talking. We talked about how Romans 13:1 says that all authorities that exist have been established by God. That means that the authorities in our life are ordained by God and given for us as an umbrella of protection. When we choose to submit to that authority we are safe under the umbrella. When we choose to challenge/disobey that authority we move outside the umbrella of protection and we are open to attack and hurt.
"Son, today when you called the kids inside after you were told to wait, you moved outside the umbrella of protection. That is why you were not allowed to engage in telling me why you did what you did. It is why you lost that privilege and ended the play time alone in your room."
We talked about two Bible verses. "Those who turn away from their training become poor and ashamed. But those who accept warnings are honored." Prov. 13:18 We talked about how poor can mean you feel poor in your heart, you are lacking something inside that you need. It can also make you feel ashamed, like having to end the play time alone in your room. But accepting a warning will bring honor to your life.
We also talked about how Jesus left heaven, came down to the lowest level, and obeyed God completely, even though it ended in death. (Phil. 2:8) Sometimes obeying completely leads to death for us as well-the death of not getting our own way every time.
Lots of tears were cried as his little heart began to soften under the truth of God's Word. I really wanted him to know not just what he was doing wrong, but that dealing with sin is normal and it is possible to overcome it. God is the one who can change us.
He said, "Mom, I've been trying to change," and that is when I crumbled on the inside. As we talked I saw a little boy who was struggling. He knows he has been wrong and like Paul, he keeps doing what he doesn't want to and the thing he wants to do-well, he doesn't do it.
Our time together ended with me scratching his back and praying for him. He did not want to pray out loud for forgiveness so he prayed in his heart. In my prayer I affirmed his character, affirmed the fact that God forgives us every time we come to Him, and tried to bless my son in my words prayed over him.
His last assignment was to stay in his room to think about what we had talked about and to write Philippians 2:8 while he thought through things.
This is what getting to the heart looks like. I can get the response I want by talking harsh and ugly and they'll do it but this way is so much better. It is the way that takes time and effort. That child came out of his room and he had a different demeanor to him. His face was filled with life and joy.
I don't always get it right and even yesterday there were times I got it wrong but I wanted to share this with you that maybe it would encourage you. The Child Training Bible is the best resource I have ever found to help me in training my boys.
Not only does it give you scriptures that speak to different sin issues, but it gives questions to ask your children. Are you receiving instruction with a good attitude? Has your behavior demonstrated wisdom? Did Jesus ever have a stubborn and defiant attitude? What attitude did Jesus have? (Phil 2:5-8)
Lord, help my child to have a compliant and humble heart that heeds reproof. (Phil 2:8, Prov 13:18). Thank you Jesus for always having a perfectly righteous attitude. (Heb. 4:15)