The world is not an easy place for anyone. To give Helen her way in everything is a lie to her. You've got to stand between her and that lie. Don't give in. -Annie Sullivan,Helen Keller's teacher, from the film The Miracle Worker
Sometimes we believe lies about ourselves.
Perhaps it's "I'm not smart", "I'm not beautiful", or "nothing will ever change".
These lies lock us in place. They are like a pair of sunglasses placed over our eyes and everything we see is coloured by this lie. Instead of seeing a situation for what it truly is, we allow the lie to be re-enforced in our lives and in our way of thinking.
Today was a day to stand between our daughter and a lie.
My husband had made a request of our daughter. And she didn't take it well. She had her opinion and her idea and she wanted her own way.
I could see both sides of the issue and asked to see my husband privately. I wondered if he was just not hearing our daughter's heart or if he was misunderstanding the way she was thinking.
As we talked, my husband said something that opened my eyes to the big picture.
"She is believing a lie about herself. This is not about her request, this is about her self-image and self-esteem. She is believing that she is not good enough and her request is to stay at the level, rather than to walk in the Truth that God has spoken over her in His word."
Wow. I didn't see that at all. But as soon as he said that, I realized he was discerning the situation for what it was.
I invited my daughter for a walk along the river.
The river is a good place to toss thoughts into. It has the ability to carry them away or submerge them and hold them in place like a rock resting on the bottom.
I prayed silently, asking God to see the big picture and not to get hung up on the minutiae of the problem.
"It makes me so mad," her voice is firm, while she tosses a rock. "He never lets me do what I want. I always have to do what he says. He never listens."
I know this isn't true. My husband is the best listener I know. He is the most careful person I know at holding the hearts of others.
I decide to bridge things for my daughter. I open up and tell her about how I thought those exact same thoughts of God a few weeks ago. I share with her how God was asking me to let go of some old ways of thinking and to take action on His word. I didn't like it. The feeling in my chest was hot. My anger at Him was real and I, too, felt like God never lets me do what I want. I always have to do what He says. He never listens to me.
She looks at me and then throws a rock with gusto. "Yeah?"
"Yeah." I say. "And here's the thing. Submitting your heart to God's will is really about choosing to believe the Truth about God's character over my feelings. I had to choose to believe that God is a good Father who will only ask me to do things because they will produce good fruit in my life as I obey.
"I let go of the lie that God should let me have my way.
I had to let go of the lie that I always have to do what He says, as though He's some bully whose twisting my arm. I had to choose to believe that God only asks me to lay down something because He needs my hands free to pick something new up.
"I had to let go of the lie that said God never listens to me. I know that isn't true. Psalms says that He saves my tears in a bottle. That is a pretty big show of unremitting care and thoughtful listening to my heart. I had to embrace the truth that God hears me and He holds precious the concerns of my heart."
"I don't want to talk about this right now," she says, picking up a boulder and smashing it into the water for emphasis.
"I know. But there are a lot of hard things in life you just have to push through and this is one of them."
I invite her to sit close. We sit and study the water, watching the tiny whirlpools that form from a hidden undercurrent. Aren't our hearts just like that? I wonder to myself. Full of powerful undercurrents that only make small signs on the surface.
I sigh and reach for my daughter's hand. "What I didn't know at the time was that God was trying to protect me from a lie that I was believing about myself. That in His goodness He was saying 'no' to me, so that I could say 'yes' to the truth. God saw things that I couldn't see about myself. And that's how it is with your Dad. He is able to see something in this situation that you can't. And the real question for you today is: will you trust your father?"
She is quiet and I can hear the river moving forward, taking my words with it. Would she hear me?
She looks at me. "This is hard."
I smile. "I know. Learning to trust your father's judgment in this situation is training your heart to trust God's voice in the future. Are you ready to do that?"
I give her some time and tell her that she has a few moments to make up her mind. She sits beside the river and tosses in rocks, while I pray my way up the hill.
The leaves are yellow and the day is like a cat on the porch-content, curled up on itself with a relaxed peacefulness.
She has decided to trust her Dad's decision.
I smile and tell her I am proud of her. We pray.
We decide to go and talk with her Dad again. We come up with a few optimistic alternatives to present to him.
"You can present these ideas to him and give him some time to think about them. In the end, even if he doesn't choose to go with your ideas, are you ready to trust that Daddy is making the best decision for you?"
She stares at the ground for a moment and breathes a heavy sigh. Her green eyes look into mine as she looks up. "Yes, I am."
We walk home. We share our ideas. We wait for his decision.
His original decision stands, although he points out the benefits of her suggestions and compliments her on taking the time to think of other approaches to the situation.
My daughter's heart is accepting and she gives her Dad a hug. "I will trust you," she says.
For our family, this is what Mediated Learning has taught us to do in times of conflict or misunderstanding. We take time to slow down, assess what is really going on, ask questions and listen to each other's hearts.
It's allowed us, with God's grace, to slow down and self-regulate. It's allowed us to make time to ask God what's really going on in this situation.
It's given us tools to be as gentle with our children's hearts as the Father has been with ours.