My six-year-old son follows me into the cool room; last bits of sunlight cascade onto the brown couch where we sit down. Looking down at my son I search for the right words to speak to him.
I quietly pray, “God, help me not lose my temper. Help me talk to him gracefully and not become angry.”
There is a fine line with my son when speaking to him.
Through many failures of my own, I have sharpened the tipping point. If I am too harsh and yell when he screws up, his heart shuts down towards me, rendering me useless in getting through to him.
I had just found out that he had done something quite harmful; sinful.
My wife called me at work to let me know what had happened, asking me to talk to him when I arrived home.
Anger, frustration and uncertainty clouded my mind through the remaining hours of the day. I was uncertain about how I should handle the situation.
Should there be discipline?
If I go soft on him, will he not take me seriously?
Doubts of my own ability to handle the situation creep in.
Sitting on the couch with my son, looking at him, his body language telling me he doesn’t want to be there. Fearfully he sits, quietly, intently waiting for me to explode.
Processing through my mind I realize (insert God telling me because I am utterly helpless in this area) that if I come down hard on him, yell or be insanely firm, he will throw walls up and I will lose his heart.
Often I have bought into the lie that if I am soft on him, he will grow up to be wild and out of control. I have allowed my fears of my son not being an honorable, upright, truthful follower of Christ, to guide my fathering of him.
I have been parenting most times out of fear.
Because of my fear, the very thing I am fearful that my son will become, I have parented out of. I end up fathering him dishonorably and untruthfully. Through being quick to anger, ruling his heart with an iron fist at times, and not extending much grace to him when needed, I am the one who is then repelling him to the very things that I fear most he’ll be.
I turn to my son sitting on the couch and by the grace of God, softs words come out towards him. I see him ease into me. Because I am being soft to him, he softens his own heart to me.
And we talk.
And he hears me.
As time passes he inches close to me and embraces me.
Through the softness I had once feared would turn him from the Way, it has now steered him towards the Way.
I squeeze him tight.
I quietly thank God for His own graces with me and for this moment with my son. I thank Him for being soft with me, working with me patiently to see the errors of my ways so I can have restoration with my son.
You can find Jesse writing about his attempts (failures) at being a good father, husband and follower of Jesus. The good news is, Jesus is the redeemer. And that is what he clings to. There is no amount of failing or screwing up that He can’t redeem. He writes on his own blog here.