It seems like it was an accumulation of slow compromises that got us here.
I never wanted to wake up one day and say, “I’ve got spoiled kids.”
Yet I find myself right in the middle of a war of entitlement in my home.
My eyes have slowly been opening to this reality for several months.
I believe my pursuit to be a great mom and love my kids well is pure.
I love to spend time with my kids, planning fun events, blessing them with gifts, and making their days happy.
But somehow I allowed that noble pursuit to become my main focus. Although my desire was good to make my children a priority, it turns out you can have too much of a good thing.
Instead of my ambitions inspiring thankfulness, they have created an expectation for fun.
Instead of appreciation for the privileges we have, getting their fair share and “demanding it” has become common behavior.
I’ve wanted to give my kids the whole world, and that’s exactly what they got…with it’s “me first”, “the more the better”, “whatever makes me happy” attitude.
And I taught it to them. I struggle with entitlement too.
I want to take the easy way. When I do work hard, I like to be rewarded. I deserve to have what other people have. I compromise to fit in.
All of these attitudes have reared their ugly little heads in my life as well.
But God is too kind to let us stay here.
My current study of Abraham has led me to one of the hardest Bible stories to understand–the offering of Isaac.
God asks Abraham to sacrifice his only son, whom he loved more than anything else.
Not because God was punishing Abraham, but because He wanted to show Abraham what was stored up in his heart. What Abraham had become, what he could become if he would remain faithful. Remain trusting Him. Walking by faith.
God and I have been talking over the truth of His Word together and I am certain I can trust Him with my Isaac.
I’m offering up my family’s pursuit of happiness and looking for contentment.
Just as God provided a ram in place of Isaac, I am trusting He will provide what we need to walk against the stream of our culture.
He has a journey for our family to embark on and we are not alone. He is not only with us, but equipping us, cheering for us.
It begins with me. It begins with the resurrection and the victory to overcome whatever this road to obedience looks like.
As Lent is upon us, I believe this is God’s perfect timing for us to begin.
To look toward the empty tomb with the confidence, “He Is Enough.”
It comes down simply to this:
Loving ourselves less. Loving God and others more.
This is heart change. Life transformation. Something only God can do.
I’m not quite sure how this is going to happen but I am asking God to do it. To show us the way to offer up the pursuit of our own happiness in exchange for a deeper trust in His provision that leads to contentment.
That’s why we are digging into His Word, seeking to follow His lead, praying and trusting with open hands to accept the path of obedience no matter where it may take us.
Our family is beginning our journey with two simple words. Two simple prayers.
Gratitude and perspective.
These next forty days (and beyond) we will be making some intentional steps to walk faithfully in these two things.
Not as a means of “doing” to produce better behavior…BUT as a practice of living out of the grace in which we now stand trusting the Lord to bring our hearts along in the process.
It may look different for your family as it does from mine. That is okay.
But may we always take another step towards faithfulness.
FORTY DAYS OF GRATITUDE AND PERSPECTIVE:
In practicing gratitude…
Daily giving thanks. Asking these three questions. Filling in our family gratitude journal.
What made me smile today? Who do I appreciate today? How was God good today?
Replacing a focus of fun to loving what must be done.
When I pick my kids up from Sunday school, an activity, school, grandparents,whatever…the first question I usually ask is…”Did you have fun?” I’m not saying that is all bad but it definitely places a focus on “fun” being what is important.
I’m asking the Lord to help me ask better questions. Questions that place a focus on growth of character or helping others.
“Did you play with anyone new today?” “How did you help your teacher?” “What made you smile?” “Was there anything that made you sad?” “Is there anyway I can pray for you? for a friend?”
AND…with the Lord’s help, I am praying I can encourage “loving what must be done.” Gratitude in the mundane, choosing joy in our attitude, looking for the fun in whatever we have to do for that day.
Getting to know the grace-giver.
Lent is a great time of year to read God’s Word together as a family. Pick one of the four gospels and read a chapter a day leading up to Easter. Getting to know Jesus inspires gratitude! You can’t help but be thankful.
Praying for others right then and there.
I so often tell others, “I’ll pray for you.” But then I walk away, and although I really do mean well to pray, I forget. I’m praying the Lord helps me to be brave and courageous to pray with others right in the moment.
I am looking forward to calling on God on behalf of others, even with my children, so that we may gratefully remember where our strength and hope is found.
In gaining perspective…
Learn about other countries and other people groups.
I purchased this global family learning kit that includes a map, six “family night” discussions and activities to learn about the country, a handmade item made by a woman from that country, and a print depicting pictures from life lived there.
We are planning on doing the family night cards each weekend leading up to Easter and praying for Indonesia throughout these next forty days.
You can order this great Global Family Kit from The Mercy Shop.
Eating out less.
This is something we so take for granted. Convenience. Choices. The means in which we can do it. We have formed the habit of eating out some during the week as we head home from baseball practice…Mom’s too tired, or we just want it.
You know what happens just about every time we decide to eat out? We all argue over where we are going to eat! We can’t seem to find a place we all are excited about because it has become more of an everyday occurrence instead of a privilege.
Lord help us to see it as a privilege once again.
Helping with chores around the house. Showing responsibility and care for our things.
My kids work very little in the way of chores and helping around the house. I usually do it because it is faster and easier just to do it myself. But I am robbing them of an opportunity to learn to work hard, gain independent cleaning skills, and take some responsibility for their property.
And they expect me to do it for them now!
I get easily overwhelmed with cleaning charts and sticker systems. I found this great idea for creating cleaning zones around the house and teaching your kids how to clean a zone until they are independent. This is what we are going to try.
Plus, this is the perfect segway into…
Earning the money to buy what we want. (For adults, that would be saving the money…)
We can’t go to the store without some sort of negotiation tactic to get a new item! This goes hand in hand with chores and working hard to earn the money to buy that toy they want. They will appreciate it so much more and it will teach them how to use money wisely.
Same goes for Mom and Dad! We need to save the money for what we want. Budget for it. Wait for it. Then we will certainly enjoy it so much more when we get it!
Serving others as a family.
This list consists of needs I have seen come up in my community and ideas I have wanted to do for a while…but just have not done. So this Lent, we are intentionally going to practice serving weekly together in these simple ways.
(I’ll be sharing on our Facebook page weekly more details for each service project if you would like to join!)
Dear friends, pray for me. I’ll pray for you. Let me know what Isaac you are offering. Tell me if something on our list of gratitude and perspective resonates with you too.
I know trading our happiness for contentment is going to be hard in my own life but also hard parenting.
May we live out the resurrection these next six weeks in such a way we do not recognize ourselves. May we have gotten closer to the secret of being content.
Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe…Hebrews 12:28
We have a hope that cannot be shaken. Lord, help us to love you and others more.