Under stress (and we've had a bit of it lately), my tendency is to become a teddy bear. "[Teddy bears] will accept blame just to bring peace to angry situations. The struggle of this style is that a teddy bear may be taken advantage of, becoming a doormat. They can enable others by not allowing them to face and wrestle with conflict" (www.brentobannon.com).
So now you know my greatest struggle in parenting - knowing how to enter into conflict with my children in a spirit of love, fighting in the right way, holding the gates of peace and righteousness open around them.
One of the statements I wrote down at SureFire Prayer's Activate Training was this:
"The struggle - it's about how you view it.
Messes make way for miracles; family life is messy."
Our journey in emotional healing has taught us that trauma plows up the soil of our hearts to receive the seeds of deeply-rooted beliefs. Will the belief be truth from the heart of God? Truth expressed in His Word? Or will the belief be deception from the enemy, carefully disguised as truth that can be subconsciously absorbed by our hearts in moments of pain. These seeds of deception grow into strongholds - lies that, left intact, will impact us for the rest of our lives.
For most people, conflict is traumatic. Conflict stirs up emotions. Conflict is messy. Situations of conflict and stress will be the situations where my children learn from me the most - not necessarily by hearing the words coming out of my mouth, but by observing the state of my heart. My kids are especially good at seeing straight to my heart.
All of us parents, teachers, and anyone who pours themselves into children like to visualize beautiful moments of peacefully imparting wisdom and truth into rapt and receptive minds. These moments, when they happen, are cherished memories. But perhaps not the ones that will stick with my kids the most.
I've been struck lately by two biblical characters who didn't always jump at conflict, but knew when to dig in and hang on: Jacob and David
Jacob didn't often fight fair. He ran from his angry brother Esau and from his frustrated father-in-law. But when he found himself in an all-out physical battle with what he recognized as a messenger from God, he refused to let go until that messenger blessed him (Genesis 32).
David was not a hothead. He waited for God time after time to lead him into conflict. But when he heard Goliath defy his God, he refused to retreat in dismay like everyone else. Instead he demonstrated God's righteous anger and went after the giant (1 Samuel 17).
When I brush conflict under the rug, or snatch control in the conflict, taking charge of cleaning up the mess myself, I do myself and my family a great disservice. God wants to use each emotionally charged moment to plant His truth deep into my heart and my children's hearts, often revealing and uprooting a formerly planted lie.
Fighting well means receiving God's anger. Fighting well means choosing to worship, receiving battle orders in worship and prayer. With his leadership comes insight and deliverance. Fighting well means fighting together with my children against the giants - not fighting against my children.