I came across this photo on Facebook. Not sure who to give credit to as it’s been shared multiple times on different sites. If you know the original author, please let me know! A warning: this post gets personal and spiritual!
I often skim over these type of photos for some reason. I guess because I see so many Biblical/religious/political status updates that they are all like a big pool of sludge to me now. But, I happened to pause for a moment to read this one. Originally, I interpreted it in terms of just what it says: Satan’s voice vs. God’s voice. But as I was reading through the bullet points, I thought, gosh, if my kids were to read this, would they say they see me more as Satan’s voice or God’s voice? Shoot. Convicted of your failures much? I am.
Hmmm…let’s think. How many times have I told my kids, “Hurry up! We need to go! Don’t worry about getting your shoes on! You can get them on in the car!” when hardly have I ever placed my hand gently on one of their shoulders and said, “Shh, it’s ok. No hurry. I’ll wait for you.” Am I God’s voice or Satan’s voice to them?
How often have I pushed our kids, not in a productive way, but in an effort to get them to succeed at something they may not be fully capable of succeeding in yet? Pretty often. Instead, shouldn’t I be modeling what it is I want them to grasp, patiently guiding them down the path they should be on? Am I God’s voice or Satan’s voice to them?
How many times have I threatened our kids with punishment (and followed through on that punishment), feeling a sense of accomplishment when I know they have a bit of a “healthy fear” of me? Shouldn’t I be reassuring them, being a safe haven for them, a comfortable place to fall? Am I God’s voice or Satan’s voice to them?
And how many times have I discouraged my children, thinking harsh words will motivate them to move forward? Shouldn’t I encourage them, not just in spite of, but because of their failures? Aren’t I as human as them? Don’t I make as many, if not more mistakes than they do? How dare I put myself on a pedestal. Am I God’s voice or Satan’s voice to them?
And how many times have I condemned my children, punishing them in hopes to see a change in behavior when I should be convicting them; leading them into a place where they come to the conclusion that what they have done is wrong? And by coming to this conclusion, holding my hand instead of being held at arm’s distance, they weep and feel their heart softening instead of hardening? Am I God’s voice or Satan’s voice to them?
I don’t believe I need to be an enabling, compliant, push-over parent. But I do need to soften a bit and allow grace and mercy to enter back into my home.
My childhood lacked the modeling I so desperately want to show our kids. Walking on eggshells in a house that most of the time was not a place of comfort, but of fear, molded me in many ways. I became bent towards harshness. I didn’t see gentle parenting; I saw harsh punishment for misbehavior and I felt the sting of seeing and hearing many things a child should not see and hear. This bent me, and broke me, in many ways. It bent me toward continuing the ugly legacy of my father. It broke a piece of my heart that lay open and wounded for many years. The open wound would pop up during times of discipline with our children, or in moments when I would say or do things I wish I could just go back and erase. Only one thing was like a salve to my wounds. Just one thing could relieve the pain: a relationship with God. Let me repeat that: a relationship with God. Not just words coming out of my mouth or going to a church building on Sunday. A true, deep, never-ceasing love-relationship with my Creator. Yes, this love healed my brokenness.
But, I’m still bent.
I no longer feel broken. But I do feel bent. It’s not easy for me to parent my kids the way I yearn to. I often remind our kids where I came from, that it’s not easy for me, and that I am doing my best to do the right thing. I can only pray that as they grow and mature, they will extend to me the grace and mercy that I so desperately want to extend to them more. I don’t expect to be perfect. I’m a work in progress, in transition. Continually evolving, learning, changing. For now, I need to ask myself each night, “Have I been Satan’s voice or God’s voice to them today?”