Have you Put Away Your Bottle?

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I once saw a three-year-old drinking from a bottle.

Three.

Well, he may have been 2, but if so he was a BIG two.

He was too big for a bottle regardless. It struck me how unnatural it looked. It really stood out. It also made me think about how it must look when Christians don’t grow and still just drink “milk.” Or worse, if they go back to just drinking milk after eating table food. Only new Christians should drink milk:

“As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:” I Peter 2:2

Milk is important and everyone needs it, but adults need more than just milk. We wouldn’t grow correctly if all we did was drink milk without transitioning to solid food. If I stayed on just milk after turning a year old I wouldn’t survive. I certainly wouldn’t thrive. Just like it is noticeable if our body is growing correctly, it is also evident if we are growing as Christians.

I must eat food…better yet, meat. Once my children began to eat food they were never satisfied with just milk….and once they had meat there was no turning back! The same should be true for us as Christians. Milk isn’t a bad thing as we grow up. We still need it as we grow, we just need other things as well.

One of my daughters sucked her thumb, and we tried everything to get her to stop. She didn’t want to though and we would often catch her at night still sucking her thumb. Finally, she got old enough to realize how it looked and she decided she wanted to stop. She asked me to help her and we came up with a plan.

The deal we made was if she did not suck her thumb for 21 days (how long I had read it takes to form a new habit) then I would buy a new outfit for her American Girl doll. This was a big incentive for her. I never buy something like that unless it is a birthday. Also, if I caught her sucking her thumb one time we started back at day one. We hung the numbers 1 through 21 on little sticky tabs on her bookcase, and each night she got to take one down. It was a long process, but she completed it on the first try and has never sucked her thumb again. She was SO proud of herself.

What was the magic key? Her desire to grow up.

Which brings me back to the bottle: I can be eating food and drinking milk, but still not want to give up my “babyish” ways. If that little boy had been drinking from a cup, it would not have looked out of place. There are baby ways in the faith that I hang on to that I should be giving up as I mature in the faith.
For example:
– whining
– selfishness
– unthankfulness
– bitterness
– worry
– no self-control
– moodiness
– laziness
– being pessimistic
– impatience
– sharp tongued
….. just to name a few.

The longer I have been a Christian and the closer I get to Christ, the more I should be like him and show fruits of the spirit.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23

When breaking my children of childish habits such as: nursing, the bottle, a pacifier, the sippy cup, sleeping in their crib, or thumb sucking… it was hard.

It also took time, and it didn’t happen overnight. In fact, I knew to brace myself for a full out battle for at least three days. They fought me, they cried, and they whined. However, through encouragement and perseverance, I helped them take a step from infancy towards adulthood. Furthermore, if I helped them focus on what they gained instead of what was lost, each day became easier.

God does the same for us. He places trials and hardships in our lives, not because he doesn’t love us, but because he wants us to mature as Christians. He knows that sometimes he has to place things in our lives that makes us have a desire to grow up and put away childish things (I Cor. 13:11). Thankfully, God patiently weans us off the “bottles” in our lives and encourages us in our journey towards growing into adult Christians.

Letting Them Go: God’s Will for Our Children’s Life

I will be the first to admit that I am a control freak, especially, with my kids. Regarding them, I like things done for them my way, and I tend to think my way is best. Normally I’m right to a degree because I know them so well (though they do survive quite well when I’m not home and someone else is taking care of them), but not when it conflicts with God’s will. As my kids have gotten older I have come to realize that my control tendencies relate to fear for their wellbeing. Fear that things might not go according to how I think they should, or Fear that something may happen to my kids.

“But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body?”

We must allow our children to be who God created them to be or else the body of Christ will suffer. Things work best when used for their intended purpose/use. Take a hammer, sure you can pound in a nail with other objects, but it doesn’t work as well. Not only that, but it is more frustrating and time-consuming.

I have a question though, one that God has had me mulling over the past few weeks. Does our fear hold our children back from being all they were created to be? The story of Hannah and Samuel has always struck a chord with me as a mom. It’s easy to say “sure God”, “they are yours!” However, it is harder to actually give them to God like Hannah did. There are several things lately that I have pondered as God has pressed them upon my heart that I wish to discuss.

Salvation
I reread in my prayer journal recently that I was scared when one of my children asked Jesus into their heart. I was worried that I did something wrong. I was terrified they would not make it to heaven and that I had given them a false sense of security. I learned that it takes more faith to trust in someone else’s salvation than it does my own. Did I have them say the right things? Were they ready? Did they totally understand or did I pressure them in some way? While those are all valid concerns, if I have truly been praying and asking for God’s guidance, and the child is clearly under conviction then I must leave the rest in His hands. Jocobed had to trust God by placing Moses in the basket, thereby placing control of her son into God’s hands. If she had kept Moses home attempting to save him herself, he would have perished. It is important to keep in mind that God is the one doing the saving, not us.

Letting Them Learn From Their Mistakes
I like my kids to get straight A’s, and look perfect to the world. Why? Because it makes me look like an exceptional parent. However, sometimes the pressure feels even greater since not only am I their parent, but also their teacher. While it is true that people do look at our kids judging them, it is not 100% true that they are a reflection of my success as a parent. For example, God is the perfect parent and does everything right, but his kids are a mess. Sometimes I don’t want my kids to mess up so they won’t have to deal with the consequences. I love it when my kids are happy, but I have had to learn to love them enough to let them be unhappy. When I focus solely on my kids acting right so that I look good or if I protect the from the consequences of their actions, they fail to learn from their mistakes. It’s okay to make mistakes, that is how we learn. We must allow God to teach them lessons so they will grow through the process.

Overnight Stays Away From Us
Overnight stays are an area that I struggle with constantly. While I enjoy the occasional break from my kids, I love them all to be at home tucked into their beds at the end of the night. We are very picky about where our kids stay overnight, but as they have matured I have tried to relinquish control in more supervised settings. The biggest challenge so far has been church camp. We trusted the leaders, the kids were just 3 miles down the road, but it was still a struggle to let them stay for several nights. What if they got scared? What if they were picked on? In the end, they had a BLAST and grew so much in their walk with God, and now they look forward all year to camp. However, If I had allowed my fear to hold them back, they would not have grown and made those wonderful memories.

Moving
Fast forward a few years and we will be facing our kids moving out. To be honest, I’m dreading it. It’s one thing to say that “there is nowhere safer than God’s will”… it’s another thing when your baby moves several hours away and closer to their in-laws… choosing to put themselves in harm’s way for their country… or has been called to share the gospel in the Middle East. I found it so interesting that God didn’t allow the people in several passages in the bible to go back home just to say goodbye. When Jesus called the disciples (Mark 1:17-20) they “…straightway left their nets, and followed him.” He told a mean seeking to be a disciple Luke 9:59-62, “No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” when he wanted to go back and say goodbye to his family first. Honestly, that always has seemed a little harsh to me. Instead, I wonder if he knows us mamas are great at using guilt trips and tears to change our children’s minds. Instead of finding a source of encouragement to follow God’s plan for their lives, they would discover discouragement and doubt from someone supposed to push them towards God. It is possible that we place too much emphasis on family and not enough on God’s will. (Luke 12:3)

God’s Will
Last week I read the story of Samuel coming to Jesse and asking him to bring all his sons to him so he could anoint one as king. I found it interesting that Jesse gathered all his sons except David. Jesse just took for granted that he knew God’s will for his son. I’m sure he loved his son, he just didn’t see the same potential God did. I’m not sure what made him think David wasn’t king material, but the potential was there. Then there is the story of Jacob and his son Joseph. When Joseph shared his dream with his family, Jacob laughed and got a little indignant. Even though Jacob loved Joseph more than his older children, he still did not see a mighty ruler in his son. He just saw an arrogant teenager instead of the ruler that God knew was inside. Who can blame him, how easy it would be to focus on the sass of a young teenager rather than the meaning of his dream. Take even Jesus’ parents in Luke 2:48-50. I found it amazing that even Mary and Joseph had trouble letting God work his plan through Jesus because all they saw was a child. God has a plan for each one of our kids that will blow our minds, where we see weaknesses, He sees their awesome potential. (Jeremiah 29:11-13) God is in the business of making the weak strong. He is also in the business of sanding the rough edges of spoiled teenagers, BUT FIRST WE MUST LET HIM.

So how can we surpass these enormous and valid fears?

Hebrews 11:6 “But without faith it is impossible to please him:”

Showing faith by focusing on God and not our children. We can start by taking baby steps to release our control. (like maybe letting them go to camp) Finally, we must ask God to open our eyes to who HE sees when he looks at our child.

Ponder the following questions with me:

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