Are High Expectations Bringing Me Down?

Are_High_Expectations_Bringing_Me_DownI wonder how often in life I am let down because my expectations were too great. It isn’t that the event itself was poorly run (although it might have been) or that a certain person failed horribly in their attempts, but rather that I had a greater expectation of the results than I should have.

Since I was young I have always pushed myself to the limit. I knew what I expected of myself and what I could produce. Knowing this, I never settled for less than my best and never let myself stop until the most could be done. While there is no problem with setting certain expectations for myself, I need to be careful that I don’t set high standards for others, expecting them to perform at a level I would impose on myself.

I find this to be especially true in homeschooling. It can be a danger to expect my children to learn at a certain rate, pursue a skill with dogged mindset, or keep working until the job is “perfect”. While my children should have goals, they need to be realistic. The aim should be to do their best, not mommy’s best nor anyone else’s. The intention of learning being that they continue to grow and achieve their best, not what someone else expects.

If I force my children to constantly live up to my own standard of performance, I run the risk of overburdening them and perhaps turning them away. The probability of them becoming frustrated and giving up is high.

Instead, I try to set an example for my children; allowing them to see for themselves what great expectations can accomplish. It isn’t by pushing, prodding, and certainly not by setting the bar too high; it is simply by living and living well.

“As it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now, as always, Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.”
Philippians 1:20

Your Turn!: Do you find yourself expecting too much of other people, or yourself?

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Grace Abused

Grace_AbusedI hate having to discipline my children. I don’t know of a single parent who actually enjoys this aspect of life. However, I realize it is important in raising children up properly. Our children need to know there are immediate consequences for poor choices. They need to understand that obedience, temperance and respect are essential.

Early on, my husband and I read a wonderful book about training up our children in the ways of the Lord. This book helped us understand what the Bible had to say about raising children. It was also instrumental in helping us decide the best manner of training and discipling, as well as the difference between the two. We have used the principles in this book for the last several years and have always found them to be sound and true.

Unfortunately, as of late, I have found myself to be lacking. Far too often we are repeating ourselves in order to be obeyed. Far too often the children are asking why they need to do something, instead of doing it. Far too often we are allowing them to be disrespectful and blaming it on those “teen” years. Mommy is starting to feel tired, irritated, and frazzled.

Recently, it hit a point where I realized who was at fault… ME! I was using grace as an excuse to be lazy. I was justifying my lack of action by thinking that giving them more of an opportunity to obey would make them want to obey. I thought if I extended grace, they would rise to the occasion, be grateful, and quick to obey next time. Well, that certainly wasn’t happening. I was only giving them more opportunity to disobey. I was slowly, but surely, getting more irritated with not being obeyed the first time. I was becoming more and more disrespected because my children were being allowed to get away with it.

After a few bouts of disobedience and disrespect from the kids, I knew this needed to come to an end. I called all of my babies into the front room and sat them down. I sincerely and thoroughly apologized for not being more patient and kind. I apologized for not doing my job; namely training them immediately. I explained that my God-given responsibility was to teach them to be respectful adults who feared the Lord. I explained that in order to do my job I needed to be training them, and I was no longer going to tolerate disobedience under the guise of grace.

Afterwards, I knew we needed to come up with a better plan of encouragement. Not only did I need to be training them more, but we also needed to be keeping each other in line with God’s will and His Word. What better way to do this than prayer? Together we came up with the plan that whenever we see someone starting to get out of line, we will immediately stop them and pray with them. This works for Mommy too! If Mommy is getting frustrated, the kids have been encouraged to walk right up to me and say, “Mommy let me pray for you.”

Through prayer and a return to training, I know our home will be one filled with joy, peace, and love. I have confidence in knowing the Lord is helping me to raise our children with wisdom and patience. I can proceed into our upcoming school year, knowing that our learning will be more easily accomplished without the challenge of disobedience. Now I know that when grace is offered, it is because it is truly meant and that it is not laziness masked by grace abused.

“Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not!”
~ Romans 6:1-2

Your Turn!: When do you become aware grace is being abused?

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Killing Joy

KIlling_Joy“Would you please stop running around! I’m trying to think, and all the noise and movement is preventing me from focusing. Just… please… stop!” With sad eyes my son looked up at my frowning face, puzzled by my words. He nodded, slowly trudging off to his room. It took about two-point-five seconds for the Holy Spirit to finally get through, reminding me my focus was the one off point. I had killed my son’s joy, and now needed to repair the damage.

I’m sure we all have days when our kids get a little cranky, causing a household disturbance of the peace. It can be all too easy to forget those occasions when we are the ones who step out of line. When I’ve killed my children’s joy, it’s time to get on my knees and ask the Lord to fix what I’ve broken.

Pray – Before I do anything else, I want to spend a few moments in prayer. Forgiveness is needed for both my actions and any misrepresentation I might have given of God Himself. Thankfulness should be expressed; for His willingness to not only forgive, but for the children He has given me to raise. Wisdom is needed if I am going to move forward, doing my best to not repeat my foolish mistakes.

Ask For Forgiveness – God has already forgiven me, but I also need to approach my children and ask their forgiveness. I want them to know I recognize what I did was wrong, and I am sorry for my poor behavior. I also want them to know I’ve asked the Lord to help me with this issue. I’m not perfect, but with the help of the Holy Spirit, mommy is growing and learning, too.

Recognize the Problem – Why am I struggling with this issue? Perhaps I am choosing the wrong moment to tackle this task. As with my son, maybe I needed to simply remove myself from the room in question. If I don’t fix the root issue, symptoms might change but my problem still exists.

Learn From Mistakes – Okay, I’ve made a mistake. But, it’s not the end of the world. (Even though, in that moment, I feel like the worst parent on the planet.) Just as my children make mistakes, so do I. This setback can attach itself like a boulder of guilt onto my shoulders, or I can allow the Holy Spirit to minister to me. I am not perfect, I should not expect myself to be perfect. However, I should try to learn my lesson and move forward.

Reaffirm Relationships – It’s not enough for me to simply ask forgiveness and then walk away. I must rebuild my relationship with this child. In short, we need to TIE STRINGS! Rebuilding takes time, effort, and care.

I pray the Lord continues to show me ways in which I can improve. While every aspect of parenting is not going to be fun, my approach to correction, training, and discipline should be Spirit-filled and edifying. I desire to draw my children’s hearts to Christ and share with them the joy He so freely gives.

“A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”
Proverbs 17:22

📢 Chime In!: When you’re having a rough day, what brings joy to your heart and refreshes those ‘dry bones’?

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℗ Sparrow Records 2012

On the way home from church this morning, I heard this beautiful song from Matthew West, “Forgiveness“. In this simple song, Matthew lays out the truth regarding this hard principle of life.

It is the hardest thing to give, it is the last thing we want to do, the person receiving it doesn’t usually deserve it, and it is far from how we feel. It injures our pride, it causes us pain, and it takes everything just to say the words.

Even when all the world says we have a right to be angry and remain upset, forgiveness must rule the day. It makes anger flee and removes bitterness; the person who is really set free is you. There is no end to its power.

Listening to this song, it reminded me of how important this lesson is for us to learn. It is essential that my children see us forgive and for them to give it in return.

When I make mistakes, I need to seek my children’s forgiveness and make things right. Through my humility, perhaps our children will learn to diminish their pride.

When my children make mistakes, I need to be quick to forgive. This will teach them the blessing of grace and mercy.

What touched me the most, was that Matthew gets to the heart of the matter. Forgiveness isn’t easy and it often causes pain, but in the long run we are only hurting ourselves by holding back. Even when we feel we have a right to be hurt (which we might), the answer is to set it free.

Only when we set our anger and bitterness free, by granting forgiveness, will we truly be able to live a life of joy and peace. And after all, if my God in heaven can forgive me, who is most unworthy, how dare not forgive others?

What, do you find, is the hardest aspect of forgiving someone?