Finding your parenting voice…when your out of words

It’s usually when I’m most exhausted and worn out that one of my kids needs me most. It’s equally true as a husband and a pastor…when we’re most wrung out, empty of wisdom, insight or compassion that’s when we are confronted with something significant in our lives.

Why is that?

When I have a great day, with a truly fantastic perspective on my life and faith with a sincere, calm  and wise state of mind…that’s when I would orchestrate the turbulent day to show up, sort of good vs. bad balance and then I would easily be able to overcome the negative and discouraging tones and postures in my home. That makes sense… that creates some kind of logical way for me to anticipate stress and challenges, a way for me to navigate well the demands of my life.

But that rarely…if ever, seems to occur. Instead  I’m usually called upon to be the “encourager” or wise parent for our family when I feel the most flat. It never fails…. when I get back from a particularly demanding and extended trip or long, extra difficult day at work that I find myself really needed. Called upon to give a little more… to extend myself one more inch.

It seems my kids really want to talk, share and express their sincerest doubts, fears and frustrations…most interested in hearing my voice and listening to me…when I don’t have a single word of wisdom. When I feel out of gas, empty, slipping into an emotional coma of my own and then they open up ? Figures. But, that’s when I get to decide…when we get to decide.

Do I slip back into my own cocoon of rest and isolation, or do I rouse myself and engage with my kids? It’s seems to be an easy choice, a simple “do the right thing” kind of decision, but its  a bit more complicated than that. We can wrestle with this for a while, weighing out of our own personal lack of focus, diminished strength and the potential of us becoming a hypocritical parent as we cautiously admit to the secret and ongoing battles we’ve been having already with God and our Faith.

Last night I was caught in the exact scenario I’ve just described. I was really worn thin, out of words and lacking any real voice. My teen daughter was struggling, feeling overwhelmed and exhausted by the realities of High School and life and people and work and people and relationships and people… did I mention people? 🙂

She was worn out, disgusted with it all, and all I could see and feel was her irritable and angry temperament. Her most definitely “prickly” personality was extra – super sharp and I had a choice. I could dig a little, push her to share her feelings and offer encouragement and hope, or I could let her rant and rave and stay in the distant and unhappy place she had chosen to occupy (which would allow me to go to my bed and watch some TV and sleep) or I could make the effort to really listen, really hear her and really respond.

I didn’t have an ounce of wisdom or faith to summon on my own… I didn’t have the patience or grace to gently respond, but I did believe God wanted me to speak to her. To speak words of truth and to lovingly confront her with another perspective on her life. So I did.

Good news… despite my feelings, despite my imperfections and obvious weakness and exhaustion, the Holy Spirit was with us in our car. Words flowed from my mouth that I didn’t form. Ideas coalesced into amazingly clear and insightful points, truth illuminated the darkness and God showed us both His perfect strength in my/our weakness.

Fifteen minutes later I was refreshed. So was she. I had shared openly and freely with her something life-giving and powerful, something heavenly and helpful… and I think it even helped her 🙂

Point is this. Don’t miss the chance to speak with your loved ones, no matter how strung out and wrung out you feel. God is faithful, and in your moment of greatest exhaustion, His strength will carry the day for you. As a parent and as a person. When you rouse yourself to be faithful, it ignites in us a greater level of faith and strength than we can ever muster up on our own.

Psalm 40: 1-3

I waited patiently for the Lord;
    he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
    out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
    and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
    a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
    and put their trust in him.

I promise, so does God. David felt the same as we do… he wrote Psalm 40 and it’s a blessing to us all.  A reminder that this is more than a nice story, it’s the truth.

Peace out,

Pastor Brad.

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