How do we see our children?

For those of us that have children, no matter what age they are, we know there will be good days and bad days. Those moments we have of immense frustration brought on by youthful stubborn selfishness, followed by something they say that causes your anger to dissolve like snow, all have such a profound affect on how our day plays out.

As parents, we often get bogged down on the negative things, those bad attitudes or continued actions that our children regularly do that drive us bonkers. Those thoughts of their defiance fill our mind, causing us to momentarily forget our real purpose.

Our purpose and responsibility as parents is to love our children as the Lord loves us, His children. Now that is so easy to say, but extremely difficult at times to do! Since we all live in the same house, we know what buttons to push; they know ours and how to divide us, and we know theirs, and what to say to put them in their place, or what to do in order for them to respond the way we think is best.

See them through the many lenses of love.

Seeing our children through the lenses of love is a must. That lens can look different each time: one day it will be one of compassion, the next day one of patience, followed by the lens of mercy and forgiveness. Do you see where this is going? Remembering to truly love them in spite of their weaknesses is critical. Realize that this is what the Lord does for us!

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”
Colossians 3:12-14

One day, I looked through the lens of compassion, and it payed off big time. Our daughter Karli had broken her ankle, so she was restricted to no weight-bearing for three months. She is a big lover of music, so I bought two tickets for her and I to attend Winter Jam, a Christian concert in Atlanta with a variety of artists. We opted for her to use a wheelchair so she wouldn’t have to use crutches for hours while we waited to get in. We knew the sooner we got there, the more likely it was that we could get in and get seats.

The day of the concert, it continually poured down rain. We parked in the garage for the event, but still had to walk 1/4 mile to the venue, then wait out in the rain for the gates to open. We had a big umbrella, so we stayed relatively dry. As we neared the gate, we could hear that the concert had already started. Fifteen minutes later, they said the concert was sold out and no else could enter. We had waited for two hours out there, in the cold rain, and now we were being turned away! This was so heartbreaking for Karli, and her tears began to flow. As no parent wants to see their child sad, I had to come up with a alternate plan, and quickly.

As she held up the umbrella over us, I pushed her in the wheelchair over to the CNN Center, and inside we went. Neither of us had been in there before. But our adventure that followed far outweighed sitting at a concert! We enjoyed exploring the Omni Hotel, riding the glass elevators, pretending to be “grand” in the Grand Ballroom, and drinking smoothies. My daughter said to me as we sat in front of giant glass windows and watched the rain falling in downtown ATL, “I am having more fun with you than sitting at the concert!” This made my heart sing for joy! We were connecting by spending quality time together, and she responded with such gracious words that any mother longs to hear.

Last Sunday, I used the pair of “sacrifice” lenses. My daughter wanted to get out of the house, so we spent the afternoon over an hour away at Raven Cliff Falls State Park, hiking 6.6 miles. The setting was lush and remote, with the trail following a swollen creek after the spring rains. It led us to the waterfalls, where we climbed, took pictures, and reveled in the scenery. During the late afternoon hike back with the sun setting quickly, we made up funny stories and laughed until she said, “I haven’t laughed this hard in a long time!” To hear that from her definitely made my week.

Moments like those will make the many difficult and frustrating ones worth while.

“…For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
1 Samuel 16:7b

We need to be willing to see our children as we are seen by God. Our heavenly Father waits patiently for us, is merciful with us each new morning, and forgives us for not being patient or merciful. He gives us jobs that provide money for food, clothing, and a home. He protects us, He picks us up, and He sees us as His own. Let’s not forget the sacrifices He made for us.

Is your vision for your children impaired? Maybe you need glasses; to see the situation and your pending response to it, the way the Lord sees it. Remember the fruits of the Spirit. These are visible to your children if you are living them out. They see how we react and respond to problems. Our hope is that one day they will see the wisdom in seeing others the way the Lord sees them – through the lenses of LOVE.

Food for thought: These same principals can be applied to anyone we encounter in life. Your neighbor, someone at work, or a complete stranger. Don’t close your eyes to the uncomfortable situations – focus on it and respond in love.

Fun facts: Visual aids have been around since around 1,000 AD.
Benjamin Franklin developed the bifocal lenses.
Sir Elton John owns over 25,000 pairs of glasses, both wacky and unique. His collection continues to grow.

Photo by: Kari Wiseman – Lenses of love