Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Behind The Battles and Bad Behavior...

So, as I said yesterday, this post has been percolating in my heart (and head) for a few days. Several instances, not all involving my family, have stirred it up and a situation with Abby the other night really brought it to the forefront...

I need to start back when we first came home, almost a year ago (WOW, time flies!)... We had only been home a few days when Abby got really angry and threw one of her books, that we bought in China, down the stairs.

As an experienced mother of 3 children, my natural inclination was to "handle" it... Under normal circumstances, my attitude would have been, "No child gets away with that kind of behavior in our house." Our biological children will tell you, we expect respect and you never throw something in anger in our home.

But thankfully, the Holy Spirit seemed to slow me down and I realized that there was much more behind that thrown book than disrespect and anger... There was a child whose heart was breaking... A child who had left everything she knew and everyone she loved and just needed to grieve and grief isn't always neat, whether your 6 or 60. That morning, I pulled her onto my lap and she started to cry... The book ended up back on the shelf and our first outburst of grief and anger was safely behind us...

More followed in the coming months... A morning when she refused to get ready for school... Another morning when she refused to eat her breakfast... A Saturday afternoon when she refused to put away her clothes... But each time, instead of reacting with a need to "set the record straight," the Holy Spirit has reminded me of the tender, little heart that lies behind the battles and bad behavior.

A heart that has been hurt beyond anything most of us will ever know... A heart that has said 'goodbye' more times than any heart should ever have to say... A heart that has been afraid...uncertain...frustrated and broken. It takes time to heal a heart that has been hurt like that and it needs lots of love and tenderness.

Because of the past year, I am learning more and more to think about the hearts behind the battles and bad behavior...whether it's my children... a rude person at the store... or bullies at school... The bad behavior is simply a symptom of something broken and hurting on the inside.

Now, I'm not in any way suggesting that we forget the discipline and simply "love" them... To love them IS to discipline them when it's appropriate... But as I said the other day, discipline is consistent, day to day training... It is not "making your point" or "showing who's boss."

What would happen if we allowed the words of 1 Corinthians 13 to shape our discipline? I've replaced the word 'love' with the word 'discipline' because Hebrews 11:6 says, "The Lord disciplines those He loves..." discipline is a natural overflow of our love, and it should always be characterized by God's love... So discipline should look something like this...

"Christ like discipline is patient and kind...It does not boast (or lord it over others), it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Christ like discipline does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."

Isn't that such a picture of what God's discipline looks like in our lives? I wish I could say that my discipline always looks like that...but you know...it looks like it more today than it did yesterday and hopefully tomorrow, it will look like it a little bit more... Baby steps are still steps and thankfully, my Abba Father is patient...kind...not easily angered...always hopes and always perseveres....

And we'll move a little closer to Christ like discipline when we remember the heart behind the battles and bad behavior.


Lori said...

Sharla, great post. Since I'm new to your blog I need to go back and read about your adoption. But I can't help but wonder if the Lord led me to this very post at this very time for a reason.

Our sweet Lucy has been with us just over a year. She often throws things when she gets mad, frustrated...or for no reason at all (and often has a glazed look on her face). Being a toddler, it's really difficult for us to discern between normal naughty behavior and moments of grief. She has adjusted SO WELL that we often forget that she is adopted and could still be mourning her past.

Thanks for the reminder.

Patientlywaiting said...

Great post, Sharla. I need to apply this to all my kids. My older kids may not have the same past as Claire but they have had to say goodbye a lot and move around the country a lot. I never moved as a child so I really don't know what is going on in their head and in their heart. Thanks for your words of wisdom.


laranou said...

Great words so full of wisdom. Thank you, Sharla. After a very tearful "time in" this morning with our Chinese princess, I am again reminded just how much she needs lots of love and limits all mixed together.


P.S. You were also right about the six month marker. We survived!

Cammie Howard said...

GREAT words Sharla, that I believe were given to you from the Lord.
You are a wise woman!!!

quilt-n-mama said...

This is a beautiful post and so true. One of our children really struggles at times with grief as well, lately we are seeing a lot again.
This post has truly blessed me today.