3 Types of Struggles

There are three types of people when they are in the midst of struggling. The first are those who struggle in the public eye. The second are those who struggle all alone. The third are those who struggle amongst their inner circle.
The first are those who tell everyone every detail of what is going on with their life. They can appear to be dramatic. One day they are great, and the next day they are awful. So every person who can peek into their world sees their roller coaster of a life, moment by moment, from day to day.
I have witnessed some people going through trials and tough circumstances in the public eye. They have asked people to pray for life or for their loved one. I have actually heard people who knew of their circumstances pray death over their loved ones—that they would be comforted and it would go quickly. They didn’t actually listen to the heart of their loved one. They listened to their own understanding. That is a con of living in the public eye. 
The pro of this is everyone knows what you are going through and they can throw resources, food, or anything else you need in your direction. They know what is going on, so if you actually lose a battle, you don’t have to explain what was happening behind the scenes that no one knew anything about. They are able to pity you or empathize with you. They are also able to pray with you and pray over you.
When I was pregnant in 2000, I had not told many people yet because my little sister had gotten pregnant at the exact same time. Because this was my second child, I really didn’t want to upstage her. I really wanted her to enjoy the attention of having a baby. So I only told a handful of people. I hadn’t made it public yet. When I miscarried at twelve weeks, right around the time when I was going to make it public, no one knew I had been pregnant. So I didn’t have a crowd of people gather around me to grieve with me; no one understood what I was going through. They couldn’t have empathy or pity, and there was no help.
Second, for the people who are struggling all alone—no one knows their circumstance. They have told no one. It’s all internal. The roller coaster is still happening, but no one has seen it. It’s not outwardly expressed. It is completely inward. No one knows about it. No one knows how you are doing. Outwardly, you look amazing.
These people are so susceptible to suicide because no one knows how they are doing. When I was a teenager going through abuse at home, I didn’t tell my mom. I didn’t tell a single friend. I was too ashamed. Every day was like a mask. There was not a single person who knew what was truly going on in my life. I am positive that the drama I had with all of my friends stemmed from drama at home with my stepdad—and they had no idea.
It’s when you are struggling all alone and there is no one to give you a hand and lift you out that your thoughts become increasingly negative to an extreme perspective, where the negativity can make you take your own life.
I cannot think of a single pro to struggling all alone. I can’t think of one.
Third, those who struggle within their inner circle—these are people who aren’t really in the public eye. They don’t tell anyone and everyone. They may share it with some stranger because they may feel their story or testimony can encourage someone. But other than that, they really have a close few who they share it with.
I think I generally fall into this category. I’ve witnessed so many people struggle in the public eye. I’ve witnessed so many people die because they have struggled on their own. For me, I have people in my life who I know will stand firm and fight for me. They will speak boldly to me and speak truth into me. I have known them and respected them long enough to receive it. I know they will be a source of encouragement. I know I can reach out to them at any time, in weakness or in strength, and they will never shame me or discourage me in any way. They hold my feet steady on a rock. 

I am so very grateful to those who hold up my arms like Aaron and Hur. It wasn’t a crowd holding up Moses’ arms. It was two people holding up his arms. Gossip can’t be stirred in amongst the few. Jesus didn’t have a zillion disciples. He chose twelve. He definitely spoke and taught the word to the masses, but He chose twelve who were drawn in and were close with Him all the time.
I am thankful for those of you who are in my circle. You know who you are. I love and appreciate you so much. I praise God for the depth of roots in the truth and your intimate relationship with Him that makes me want to draw close to you, too, because I recognize the Spirit in you.
If you are struggling through something, don’t be discouraged. The Bible says, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NIV). Struggles will come. It’s not if, it’s when. So when they come, be sure you have people around you who will remind you of the overcoming promises of Jesus, people who won’t try to explain or lean on their own understanding, people who will stand firm with you in Christ. That will be their position, and they won’t change their mind. They will remind you of God’s promises of who He is. 

The last thing I want to hear is someone who is unsettled or unsure of what is coming from the enemy and what is coming from God. I can tell you right now, it will make you toss to and fro and be dramatic, up and down, all over the place. Find some people to help you remain steadfast because in the shelter of the Most High God, we remain stable and fixed, under the shadow of the Almighty. Thank you, Jesus.

Speak to Your Mountains, Don’t Pray about Them

There’s a song that says, “I will climb this mountain with my arms wide open.” One day we were singing it in the prayer room, and the Lord said, “I never asked anyone to climb a mountain. I asked them to speak to their mountain. I also told them that I would give them a new threshing tool so they could thresh their mountain into chaff. I also told them that mountains of human obstacles would be made mere molehills.” God never asked us to climb a mountain, yet we are striving to overcome and become overcomers. We think it’s our religious duty and sacrifice to suffer and climb a mountain. 

We say, “Oh, we’ll do it with our arms wide open in worship to You, God. As I worship You and give You everything, I will lay down my life in sacrifice and climb this mountain for You because You are worthy.” That is really what the song is saying. The song is really not about God. It’s about them and what they will do for God. 

But what did God ask you to do? He asked you to love Him with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength and then love your neighbor as yourself. He never said, “I want you to suffer for Me. I want you to struggle every day for Me.” No. He sent the Holy Spirit to be our guide and comforter, to help us get out of our comfort zone, and to be our teacher so we can learn all the ways of God. We can learn that through the Holy Spirit and His leading in our life.

Behold, I will make you to be a new, sharp, threshing instrument which has teeth; you shall thresh the mountains and beat them small, and shall make the hills like chaff.
      Isaiah 41:15 Amplified Bible (AMP)

And Jesus, replying, said to them, Have faith in God [constantly]. Truly I tell you, whoever says to this mountain, Be lifted up and thrown into the sea! and does not doubt at all in his heart but believes that what he says will take place, it will be done for him. For this reason I am telling you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe (trust and be confident) that it is granted to you, and you will [get it]. And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him and let it drop (leave it, let it go), in order that your Father Who is in heaven may also forgive you your [own] failings and shortcomings and let them drop.
        Mark 11:22-25 Amplified Bible (AMP)

Then he said to me, This [addition of the bowl to the candlestick, causing it to yield a ceaseless supply of oil from the olive trees] is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit [of Whom the oil is a symbol], says the Lord of hosts. For who are you, O great mountain [of human obstacles]? Before Zerubbabel [who with Joshua had led the return of the exiles from Babylon and was undertaking the rebuilding of the temple, before him] you shall become a plain [a mere molehill]! And he shall bring forth the finishing gable stone [of the new temple] with loud shoutings of the people, crying, Grace, grace to it!
        Zechariah 4:6-7 Amplified Bible (AMP)

It’s not by our efforts. It’s not by our sheer will. It’s by God’s Spirit that we have the power and are empowered to do anything at all. It’s from that close, intimate relationship and knowing Him—knowing that He’s got it covered, that His promises are true.

Every single one of His promises, the answer to it is yes and amen. It doesn’t matter what you see with your eyes. His answer is still yes and amen. But our understanding becomes a roadblock and a stumbling place where we think: “Oh, it hasn’t left yet.” “This hasn’t been healed yet.” “The struggle hasn’t left me.” “Maybe I’m supposed to be sick.” “Maybe I’m supposed to be poor.” “Maybe this is the banner I’m supposed to carry.” “This is a mountain I am supposed to climb, and I will climb it, Lord. With everything in me and every humanly possible striving in my body, I will climb it with my arms wide open and worship You.”

This is a bold statement I am making to you. I am saying there is a mountain you are climbing and you weren’t designed to climb it. You are designed to thresh it, to speak to it, to command it to leave. God moves mountains. He is a mountain mover.

I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]
      John 16:33 Amplified Bible (AMP)

We will face trouble, but take heart, for the Lord has overcome the world. This doesn’t mean that when you are troubled, you should suffer and struggle and have pity upon yourself. It means in your trouble, you can look through it almost as if it’s a glass to the other side and see the promises of God. The answer is yes and amen. There is a way out. There is freedom. There is a miracle coming.

Jesus died for you to have life and life abundantly, and only deception can keep you from having that. Our deceived mind, not fully understanding what Jesus Christ has paid for us, can keep us from receiving what Jesus already provided. What? Yes. It is true. It’s for lack of knowledge that we perish, for lack of understanding. Yet in Peter, it says that we have been given everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him. That knowledge is relational knowledge.

We can be misled in the teaching. We can be taught by believers—people like me, or your pastors—who are teaching through their personal filters. Maybe they were hurt. Maybe they were let down. Maybe they didn’t get their miracle. So they teach through that. Sometimes it doesn’t happen. Sometimes it doesn’t work. Sometimes God’s word doesn’t come to pass. Sometimes God doesn’t do that. Sometimes God intends to put these things on you.

The truth is that we cannot filter God’s word through our own circumstance. We cannot filter it through what we see or what we know or our own reasoning. It cannot be a strainer for the word of God in our lives.

If something does not come to pass, if we don’t see the miracle, if we don’t see God’s hand at work in our lives, we cannot question if the promise is true. It is, regardless of whether you see it or not. It is truth beyond truth. It is unchanging. It is black and white. I will tell you that you can stand on it.

There are times when we don’t see it come to pass. But we cannot change our belief in God’s word when we don’t see the miracle happen. You believe it every time. I believe, every time, God wants people well when I pray for them. Not every person is healed, but I know it’s a desire of His heart. If I begin to compromise and think, “Well, sometimes He heals, and sometimes He doesn’t. Sometimes He wants people well, and sometimes He doesn’t,” then I become an ineffective vessel of God because I am doubting His word, and that is idolatry. I am putting my own understanding above God’s word, and that is unacceptable.

Have you done that in your life? Have you faced your own reasoning and reasoned God’s word into a package you can swallow, tolerate, or deal with? That is unacceptable. God’s word is true every time. It says by Jesus’ stripes we were healed. What does that mean? It means that Jesus, when He died, took stripes on His back. He was marred beyond human likeness, not only for our sins but for our physical health as well. That was two thousand years ago. That was all provided for.

Sometimes I don’t see that come to pass, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true. It doesn’t mean it’s God’s will for that person to die. It doesn’t. We are in a true spiritual battle with an enemy who wants to steal our lives. He wants to kill us and destroy us and infect us with his STDs (spiritually transmitted diseases). He wants to twist the truth, suppress the truth, and make us doubt the truth, and then sidetrack us from God. He wants to fix our eyes on circumstances and put our understanding on our own analytical reasoning. He wants us to have a filter that processes our understanding of God through what has happened to us. This is the greatest way we can be deceived.

There is no mountain that can stand in the name of Jesus Christ because His name is above every name. It’s either above every name or it’s not. In Mark the Bible says we can speak to our mountains and they will be cast unto the sea. When you speak to your mountains, do they move or do they stay? Many times you speak to them and they stay. Does that mean the word is not true? Absolutely not. It is truth. You can stand on it. You can bank on it. If you speak to your mountain and it doesn’t move, then you need to ask yourself, “Why do I doubt? What is causing doubt?”

Mark 9:29 and Matthew 17:21 both say, “This goes out by prayer and fasting.” I believe, with everything in me, that doubt is eradicated in prayer and fasting. Many people pray and fast to move God, but prayer and fasting move us. They move our hearts closer to God. They remove doubt because we are focused on the kingdom. Seek first the kingdom of God and everything will be added unto you.

As you fast and you starve your body, your body no longer gets to control you or rule you. Suddenly your body learns, “Hey, I need to listen up. I am being retrained here.” Your flesh is no longer your ruler, and instead you’re fasting and starving it. You’re saying to it, “Feast on the word of God.” The more you do this, the closer you draw yourself to the Lord and the more doubt is weeded out. Therefore, faith can be effective. Your faith can become effectual by hearing the word and by prayer and fasting.

Many times, people think, “I’m going to pray and fast this mountain out of here!” Basically, “I’m going to give my sacrifice to God so He will have pity on me and see my great works, and then He’ll move.” I can tell you right now, God does not move based on you. He moves based on His will and who He is. He is just that good. His love and His grace are irrational. He is uncontrollably generous. It is the kindest love you will ever know. It is so fruitful and so radically true that you can bank on it every time. He moves because of who He is and His great love for you. He does not move based on your behavior. He moves because that’s who He is.

The name of Jesus has been granted to you for you to use the authority to speak to your mountain so it will be cast into the sea. If you are not seeing that happen, check out those other verses because God did not call you to climb your mountain with your arms wide open. He called you to speak to your mountain. He called you to tear it down using His name, using His authority. It’s His power behind it. It’s His life. It’s Jesus’ blood. It’s Him being marred beyond human likeness that gives you great authority to use His name.

God has already done it. He has already provided. But will you reach out and grab it and take possession of it? Will you use it in faith, knowing God’s promises come to pass because His answer to them is always “yes” and “amen”?

The One Thing Keeping You Down!

I’ve got LeCrae in my CD player. He is a rap artist. He knows who he is. Everyone wants to be like him. But he is an original—an original creation. He’s not tame. He’s got his name. He knows it from the beginning of time. His fingerprints are like a birthmark that no one can imitate. He’s the real thing.
It made me think about how fun it is to sit here and try to rap. I mean, I’m forty-something years old, and I’m sitting here, trying to make up a rap song like LeCrae. I had this thought pop into my head: maybe I was supposed to be a famous rap artist, too. I’ve been rapping since the 80s for fun. And I’m really horrible at it—but horrible by whose standards?
Some of us have such a lack of confidence for so many years that we never really reach our true potential. We allow the fear of man and the fear of failure to hold us back. 

The one thing that can hold you back from all God has designed for you is FEAR. Fear of what? Fear of losing? It’s interesting. When you have nothing, you’re afraid of losing nothing. Instead, you’re willing to risk it all because you realize you have nothing.


I wonder how my lack of confidence over the years has held me down and kept me from being catapulted to where I was originally designed to be. Maybe there’s something else you’re supposed to be doing, but the fear of not being able to pay your bills and provide for your family has kept you from moving forward. Maybe fear has you on lockdown.
I believe that God wants to release us from that fear. He is calling you and me to step out in bigger ways than we ever have before. In what ways and areas do you need to trust God more? It’s time to throw down every chain that’s been keeping you down!
Father, I ask You to release me from everything that is holding me back from fully engaging with the confidence that I can come before Your throne with anything. Help me to remember and truly believe that You are for me and when You are for me, no one can stand against me. Set us free, God. Set me free, Lord, in Jesus’ name.

Parents Are Asking the Wrong Question

“Did you have fun today?”
“What did you do for fun?”
“Did you have fun with your friends?”
What is the one consistent word here? Its the three-letter word fun


F-U-N. 
Fun.

This type of question is ruining our children’s ability simply to BE. I hear parents, grandparents, and siblings asking young people, “Are you going to have a fun day? What did you do that was fun? Did you have fun with your friends?” 

I hear people asking this sort of question all of the time, even in my own house.
Is this really the question we should be asking? Should we gauge the quality of a young person’s day based on whether he or she had fun? 

We need to ask ourselves what we are teaching our children by asking this.

We are giving them the impression that 
life is all about having fun.
I’m not trying to suggest that children—or adults for that matter—should never have fun. We should love what we do. We should be engaged; we should have energy for life. We should enjoy our lives because Jesus came to bring us life “to the full” (John 10:10 NIV).
On the other hand, Jesus also said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NIV). 

Hardships are part of life. We will experience struggles. We must often deal with troubling circumstances. In times of trial, however, we can have peace and find strength because we know Jesus loves us. He understands our pain and is both able and willing to help us in all things. We can find joy in the growth of our relationship with Him.

It will not be fun, but there is GOOD in it.

Recently, I took care of a child for a friend of mine. When my friend came to pick up her daughter, one of the first things she did was ask her child, “What did you do for fun today?” Her daughter replied, “Nothing. I haven’t done anything fun today.” The reaction to this statement bordered on shock, as if such a circumstance were unthinkable. 

Why is it unthinkable? What is horrible about a child not having fun all of the time? You shouldnt entertain your own children, and I shouldnt entertain them, either.
If I gear my children’s lives toward fun, I am setting them up for future failure, depression, and battles when life isnt fun. I am setting them up for disappointment in marriage because they won’t be able to appreciate those low-key days of rest and recovery with their spouses after hectic times. I want my children to be able to treasure the quiet moments of simple companionship. 

When we emphasize the value of fun, 
we are sowing in our children 
the need to be entertained continuously. 


We are setting them up to view other people in terms of how they can make life more fun. We are encouraging our children to seek relationships based on fun. We are teaching them that it is okay to avoid or abandon tasks and relationships that don’t seem fun.

Many children today are constantly asking, “What are we going to do now?” They are always seeking new ways to entertain themselves. Next time your kids are with a play date or hanging out with teenage friends, listen to them talk with each other. Take note of how often they ask each other what they will do next. 

Listen to them tell each other that what they’ve been doing is getting old; they are bored and ready for the next source of entertainment. Girls who play indoors are always jumping to the next activity: “Hey, lets edit pictures. Lets do a photo shoot. Let’s play a game. Lets make a video. Lets make a song. Lets do all of these projects together. Lets go play this sport. Lets go play that. Im tired of this—lets move on.”
As a mother, I certainly appreciate when my children can entertain themselves and come up with activities on their own. The trouble is that kids don’t stay focused on a particular goal. They don’t stay engaged and committed. You don’t see kids building a fort all day long the way we did when we were young. These days its more of a frenzy. Kids dart from one activity to the next to the next to the next. Theres no break.
I don’t hear kids suggesting to each other that they hang out and talk for a while or read a book or study the Bible. I know these suggestions sound odd, but they shouldn’t. Life isnt about bouncing wildly from one fun activity to the next. I’m afraid that children who live in restless pursuit of entertainment will grow into adults who are never satisfied with simply being. God created us as human beings, yet we allow our children to be only human doings. We are setting our children on a dangerous course because, let’s face it, most entertainment for kids and for adults is of this world and not of God. 

The desire for stimulation can distract us from 
the values and purposes of God. 


Will our children be too busy ping-ponging around to realize that?

I believe we need to stop asking children, “Did you have fun today?” We need to stop telling them when they leave the house, “Be sure to have fun!” Since it’s in our power to influence our children’s focus, let’s choose some different questions: 

Whom did you encourage today? 
How were you encouraged today? 
Did you share your beautiful smile with someone? 
Did anyone surprise you with a beautiful smile? 
Did you see someone do something kind today? 
Did you share with a friend today? 
Did you help your friends mommy when you were at their house all day? 
Did you leave their place better than you found it? 
When you spent time with your friends, did you ask how they were doing and actually listen to the answer? 
Did you ask them if they were hurting in any way?
We assume our children are too young and emotionally immature to have those kinds of conversations with us and their friends. How can we believe this when we know that children are not too young to be hurt? They could already, on any given day, be suffering rejection and deep wounds. They are already being challenged morally. They are already struggling with matters of the mind and spirit and body. Our children need adults who are willing to be transparent and dig deeply with them at the earliest ages.
We should never look down on people because they are young. We shouldnt assume children are incapable of deep conversation. It is up to us to teach them. 

If we raise our children to pursue fun, we cant expect them 
suddenly to transform into insightful, compassionate 
human beings when they reach adulthood. 


We need to teach them while they are young: “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” (Prov. 22:6 NIV). We need to teach our children how to be introspective, how to search their own souls and seek the Lord. We need to teach them to pay attention to their thoughts, emotions, and experiences. We need to teach them to take a genuine, loving interest in other people’s thoughts, emotions, and experiences. People are never too young to learn the Lord’s ways and do the Lord’s work.

It is important for our children to learn how to connect with their friends on a deeper level. Otherwise the friendships they have when they are young won’t be sustainable beyond this particular season of their lives. We should teach kids from a young age the value of developing sound, lasting relationships.
Spending time with other people isn’t about cramming in as many fun activities as possible. Rather, it’s about companionship. It’s about relaxing your guard and getting to know each other. It’s about learning how to love each other. Close friends know how to rest together. They find refreshment in each other’s company. Kids need to understand that it’s okay to say, “You know what, Im tired. Lets chill and hang out. Maybe we can read together or talk for a while.”
What’s not okay is complaining about being bored. Maybe one person enjoys sharing some quiet time while another person doesn’t. The main objective isnt to have fun and be entertained. When you are with the people you love, you can find enjoyment in the busy times as well as the quiet times.
I notice many children today who seemoverstimulated and utterly exhausted. Adults allow and expect kids to stay on the go all of the time, jumping from one activity to the next to the next to the next. No wonder kids are tired! No one has taught them how to be still. No one has taught them the value of being still.
Stillness calms people. It is enjoyable. It allows us to rest and reflect. Kids, too, can learn to be comfortable enough with themselves and the people around them simply to be. 

How else will they ever hear the still, quiet voice of God?



Parents Are Asking the Wrong Question

“Did you have fun today?”
“What did you do for fun?”
“Did you have fun with your friends?”
What is the one consistent word here? Its the three-letter word fun


F-U-N. 
Fun.

This type of question is ruining our children’s ability simply to BE. I hear parents, grandparents, and siblings asking young people, “Are you going to have a fun day? What did you do that was fun? Did you have fun with your friends?” 

I hear people asking this sort of question all of the time, even in my own house.
Is the focus of this question the right one parents should be asking? Should we gauge the quality of a young person’s day based on whether or not they had fun? 

We need to ask ourselves what we are teaching our children by asking this. 

We are giving them the impression that life is all about having fun.
I’m not trying to suggest children—or adults—should never have fun. We should love what we do. We should be engaged; we should have energy for life. We should enjoy our lives because Jesus came to bring us life “to the full” (John 10:10 NIV).
On the other hand, Jesus also said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NIV). 

Hardships are part of life. We will experience struggles. We must often deal with troubling circumstances. In times of trial, however, we can have peace and find strength because we know Jesus loves us. He understands our pain and is both able and willing to help us in all things. We can find joy in the growth of our relationship with Him. It will not be fun, but there is good in it.

Recently, I took care of a child for a friend of mine. When my friend came to pick up her daughter, one of the first things she did was ask her child, “What did you do for fun today?” Her daughter replied, “Nothing. I haven’t done anything fun today.” The reaction to this statement bordered on shock, as if such a circumstance were unthinkable. Yet why is it unthinkable? What is horrible about a child not having fun all of the time? You shouldnt entertain your own children, and I shouldnt entertain yours, either.
If I gear my children’s lives toward fun, I am setting them up for future failure, depression, and battles when life isnt fun. I am setting them up for disappointment in marriage because they won’t be able to appreciate those low-key days of rest and recovery with their spouses after hectic times. Will they be able to treasure the quiet moments of simple companionship? 

When we emphasize the value of fun, we are sowing their the need to be entertained continuously. We are setting them up to view other people in terms of how they can make life more fun. We are encouraging our children to seek relationships based on fun. We are teaching them that it is okay to avoid or abandon tasks and relationships if they don’t seem fun.
Many children today are constantly asking, “What are we going to do now?” They are always seeking new ways to entertain themselves. Next time your kids are with a play date or hanging out with teenage friends, listen to them talk with each other. Take note of how often they ask each other what they will do next. Listen to them tell each other what they’ve been doing is getting old; they are bored and ready for the next source of entertainment. Girls who play indoors are always jumping to the next activity: “Hey, lets edit pictures. Lets do a photo shoot. Let’s play a game. Lets make a video. Lets make a song. Lets do all of these projects together. Lets go play this sport. Lets go play that. Im tired of this—lets move on.”
As a mother, I certainly appreciate when my children can entertain themselves and come up with activities on their own. The trouble is, kids don’t stay focused on a particular goal. They don’t stay engaged and committed. You don’t see kids building a fort all day long the way we did when we were young. These days its more of a frenzy: Kids dart from one activity to the next to the next to the next. Theres no break.
I don’t hear kids suggesting to each other to hang out and talk for a while or read a book or study the Bible. I know these suggestions sounds odd, but they shouldn’t. Life isnt about bouncing wildly from one fun activity to the next. I’m afraid children who live in restless pursuit of entertainment will grow into adults who are never satisfied with simply being. God created us as human beings, yet we allow our children to be only human doings. We are setting our children on a dangerous course because, let’s face it, most entertainment for kids and for adults is of this world and not of God. The desire for stimulation can distract us from the values and purposes of God. Will our children be too busy ping-ponging around to realize that?
I believe we need to stop asking children, “Did you have fun today?” We need to stop telling them when they leave the house, “Be sure to have fun!” Since it’s in our power to influence our children’s focus, let’s choose some different questions: Who did you encourage today? How were you encouraged today? Did you share your beautiful smile with someone? Did anyone surprise you with a beautiful smile and prompt you to smile back? Did you see someone do something kind today? Did you share with a friend today? Did you help your friends mommy when you were at their house all day? Did you leave their place better than you found it? When you spent time with your friends, did you ask how they were doing and actually listen to the answer? Did you ask them if they were hurting in any way?
We assume our children are too young and emotionally immature to have those kinds of conversations with us and with their friends. How can we believe this when we know children are not too young to be hurt? They could already, on any given day, be suffering rejection and deep wounds. They are already being challenged morally. They are already struggling with matters of the mind and spirit and body. Our children need adults who are willing to be transparent and dig deeply with them at the earliest ages.
We should never look down on people because they are young. We shouldnt assume children are incapable of deep conversation. It is up to us to teach them. If we raise our children to pursue fun, we can’t expect them suddenly to transform into insightful, compassionate human beings when they reach adulthood. We need to teach them while they are young: “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” (Prov. 22:6 NIV). We need to teach our children how to be introspective—how to search their own souls and seek the Lord. We need to teach them to pay attention to their thoughts, emotions, and experiences. We need to teach them to take a genuine, loving interest in other people’s thoughts, emotions, and experiences. People are never too young to learn the Lord’s ways and do the Lord’s work.
It is important for our children to learn how to connect with their friends on a deeper level. Otherwise the friendships they have when they are young won’t be sustainable beyond this particular season of their lives. We should teach kids from a young age the value of developing sound, lasting relationships.
Spending time with other people isn’t about cramming in as many fun activities as possible. Rather, it’s about companionship. It’s about relaxing your guard and getting to know each other. It’s about learning how to love each other. Close friends know how to rest together. They find refreshment in each other’s company. Kids need to understand that it’s okay to say, “You know what, Im tired. Lets chill and hang out. Maybe we can read together or talk for a while.”
What’s not okay is complaining about being bored. Maybe one person enjoys sharing some quiet time while another person doesn’t. The main objective isnt to have fun—to be entertained. When you are with the people you love, you can find enjoyment in the busy times as well as the quiet times.
I notice many children today who seemoverstimulated and utterly exhausted. Adults allow and expect kids to stay on the go all of the time, jumping from one activity to the next to the next to the next. No wonder kids are tired! No one has taught them how to be still. No one has taught them the value of being still.
Stillness calms people. It is enjoyable. It allows us to rest and reflect. Kids, too, can learn to be comfortable enough with themselves and the people around them simply to be. How else will they ever hear the still, quiet voice of God?