It amazes me how quickly I can go from boasting to a friend about how amazing my children are to grumbling about how difficult they make my life. In a culture that sees children as creatures that demand our time and drain our finances, it is easy for me to embrace the world’s view of children when life gets chaotic and the children start annoying me.
But God says that children are a blessing. They enrich our lives, remind us to cling to Christ and bring glory to God the Father. While Jesus’ disciples saw the children as an annoyance, Jesus saw them as a treasure and welcomed them to himself. (Mark 10:13-16)
As a Christian mother, I want to view my kids as blessings and not annoyances. But how do I turn those annoying situations into blessed opportunities? Here is what the Lord has been showing me….
When an irritating situation arises I ask myself a few questions.
1. Is this annoyance due to sin in my child’s heart or sin in my heart? Or both?
I remember trying to wash the dishes while the kids played in the adjoining room. There noise level was consistent with the number of kids and the amount of fun they were having. They weren’t doing anything wrong but I wanted to listen to worship music while I cleaned up the kitchen and their playful noises were hindering me from worshiping while I worked. Or so I thought.
I realized that my irritation with my children was not a reflection of any sin in their heart but of a selfish attitude within my own spirit. I wanted to worship God in a way that made me feel good (not in the way God was asking me to worship Him, by loving and finding joy in my children). I wanted to wash my dishes with music and peace and quiet instead of listening to the squeals of my children. I wanted what the Lord did not intend for me to have that day and I became filled with selfishness and bitterness.
Asking myself the question of whether this annoyance was due to sin in my heart or my children’s heart quickly showed me that it was me who needed to repent. God turned the annoyance into a blessed opportunity for me to address the selfish nature of my sinful heart. I could then thank God for the opportunity He had placed before me to make me more like Christ.
Sometimes the annoyance is due to sin in my child’s heart. Instead of becoming irritated with my child’s behavior, I thank the Lord for the blessed opportunity He has given me to point my child to Christ. When my children sin, I need to view it as a wonderful opportunity to share the gospel story with my children… that they are sinners, that they have no hope without a Savior and that Jesus has already come to rescue them and has left the Holy Spirit to be their helper if they put their faith in Jesus.
2. The second question I ask is, “Lord, how do you want to use this situation to point me or my child (or both of us) to Christ? How do you want to work and speak into this situation for your glory?”
The Bible says that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him…” (Romans 8:28) That means that those annoying situations are part of God’s plan to make me and my children more like Christ (or to point my unbelieving children to Christ). I want to make sure that I am relying on the Holy Spirit to speak to me and through me in any given situation. I don’t want to miss the opportunities God has given me to grow in my walk with the Lord, encourage my children in the Lord or bring glory to God.
3. And finally, I ask myself this one last question. “Lord, how can I praise you in this challenging situation?”
1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, ” Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Perhaps it means thanking God for the opportunity he has given me to point my kids to Christ or to teach them an important life lesson (like how to respond in conflict). Perhaps it is praising God for the work he did in the hearts of me and my children through the irritating situation. Or maybe it is just praising God for who He is because no matter what my circumstance, God never changes. He is always good and worthy of praise. And praising God makes the irritations much easier for me to endure!