Moms- do not let your children go. DO not loose their hearts but if you do here is a story of a sweet mom willing to face some difficult issues in her own life and the fruit that came out of it. She regained her son's heart! (This email is in responce to an inquiring email on a yahoo group that I belong to.)
I wanted to give testimony of what the Lord has done in our family. You have written a perfect description of my son up until a couple years ago when he was 13. He is also second born, just like the son described here. I read your e-mail to him as well, and he said, "That sounds just like how I was!"
He's 15 now, and he is sooo changed. I have his heart completely, and he is willingly and eagerly attentive to my every instruction and influence. He's become affectionate and loving toward me and all his siblings. (I have 5 kids all together). He's become very focused in fully directing his own education with self government, and valuable purpose, with the only curriculum being his math book.
So, how did this happen? That's what I want to share and encourage others with. I've been trying to think of how to express what happened in a brief e-mail, but truthfully, I could write a book about it if I had the time. So I'll just try and hit some of the main things I learned.
He's not the only one who's had major changes. It began when I started to learn from a friend who was loving enough to tell me the truth, that I was motivated by my desire to be accepted by the people around me, in all that I did. I cared more about my image, than about my children and my home. A couple years ago, I would not have agreed with her, but now I see, she was totally right.
Part of what frustrated me the most about my son, if I was really honest, is that he wasn't conforming to my image of how my homeschooling family was supposed to be turning out. Even though no one around me really even knew about it. From the outside my family was quite perfect looking. I'm not talking about a life of pretending to be one way in front of people and being another at home. My desire for my image of the perfect family was carried out in my everyday life, whether anyone outside the family could see me or not.
I started listening to my conscience about how I was treating my family members. I started changing, and I soon began to speak with my children about listening to their consciences, and how our conscience will always lead us toward acts of love, and away from acts of self-centeredness. I noticed that my younger children were quite sensitive to obeying their consciences, but my 13 yr old son was not. I came to realize the truth, that he did not want to obey his conscience. I let him know, and I admitted as well, that he had not surrendered his heart to the Lord. Up until that time, I had thought he prayed the sinners prayer, that means he's a Christian, just like the rest of us.
At that time, I had been frustrated with him not taking up the smallest of disciplines. I wanted him to wash his face, clean his room, keep his school records. He was regularly avoiding these small things, and sometimes even lying about doing them. At that time, the Lord showed me a principle, that Love enables us to obey.
With this understanding, and by the leading of the Holy Spirit, I required my son to meet with me at 8:00 each morning for a few minutes. In these minutes, I sat close to him, and put my arm around him. I told him I loved him, and ran my hand through his hair and touched his face. I brought up anything I could encourage him with about the previous day. I prayed for him, and then asked him to remember the 3 small things I wanted him to do. I kissed him, and then asked him to go do them before breakfast. I was doing this in obedience to the Lord, and it was a sacrifice. He had not been an affectionate son for many years.
I thought this was just the Lord's solution to getting him to do these 3 small things, but He had much more in mind. Over the days, my son was easily able to do the tasks, but something else was happening. He began to look forward to being loved on. He loosened up, and began to lean into my affection. He began to ask me about small relational problems he was having with his siblings. Actually, he began to ask me lots of things, just to be able to stay longer in my arms. Even though he showed no indication of returning the affection.
I didn't really know it at the time, but his heart was being turned toward me. One night, there was a big storm, in which my dog disappeared. We began to search for him, and my son was the most concerned. I thought at the time he was concerned about the dog, but I later learned, he was concerned about me, because he knew how much I loved my dog. The next afternoon, he found my dog, killed in the ditch. I cried, and my son comforted me. The Lord had been speaking to his conscience, and as we prepared to bury my dog, he felt compelled to confess his hidden sexual sin to me. He was afraid that his sin had caused my dog to die. He came to me trembling and weeping, and asking my forgiveness. I showered him with forgiveness and hugs, and I assured him it wasn't true, but the Lord was allowing him to understand in a kid understandable way, that our sin did cause His son to die. The Lord was allowing my son to be broken over his sin, and the hurt that he thought had caused me, even though I didn't know about his sin. He told me that he felt very guilty about his sin, and he had tried often to stop, but he was always afraid to tell me. He thought I would get really mad. But, he said, now he knew that I loved him enough to help him get out of the sin, instead of just getting mad about it. I was stunned, but I knew it was the work of the Lord. I began to cry again, but this time it was in gratefulness to the Lord, that the death of my dog brought my son's heart to me.
Since that time, my son has continued to meet with me every morning at 8:00. I no longer require it, but he wouldn't miss it for the world, and neither would I. He sits with me, often for an hour. Sometimes I have to tell him to leave, so that he'll have time to get some breakfast. All those little tasks, he eagerly does and more, before he meets with me. Now we talk about his projects, and how he can overcome the challenges he's having with them, and how he can make them more well rounded by including some self generated writing projects. We talk about his relationship with each of his siblings, and how he can purposefully improve them, with self-sacrificing love. He's learned to say nice things, which he could never bring himself to do before. I hold him accountable, and ask about his conscience regularly. He looks me square in the eyes with a big beaming smile, and tells me his conscience is clean. He often speaks about how he never wants to go back to hiding sin, and the horrible feelings of living in guilt and hidden shame. He talks candidly about how his fear of my disapproval lead him to become a liar. He speaks with teary eyes of how the Lord has set our family free.
He is right. It was my disapproval, which was actually being formed by my own fear of being disapproved of. I wanted to be perfect, and have the perfect family, so I was quick to discipline my children into conforming to my image of the perfect family. I put it to another young mom this way, if you want your kids to be obedient, and to excel so that you will look good, then they will become what you are, a user of others for self-centered gain. Those days are long gone. I only need to love them, and truthfully show them the way toward obeying their conscience, and always choosing to love, as the Holy Spirit leads, first and foremost toward their siblings and parents and never using others for anything, even for seeking approval.
My story is not a formula to get your teenager's hearts. But I did learn several principles that are always true. Love enables us to change, and we can't help our children to change if the reason we want them to change is for our own image, for then we are only using them, not loving them. Everyone has a need to be known for the wretches that we truly are, and still be loved. The Holy Spirit knows what is needed, but His way will always include doing things we'd really rather not do. I thought it was only my adolescent son who's heart I did not have, but after coming to see what it was like to truly have someone's heart, I saw that I didn't have my older daughter's hearts either, even though they appeared to be much more compliant, and wanting the things of the Lord. Our family is totally changed now. Praise to the Lord!
I know I haven't been able to express all of the aspects of our total family transformation in this e-mail, but I am open to questions that can draw out more principles about what I have learned about the way the Lord works.
Susan, please be encouraged, the Holy Spirit knows what to do, He's only waiting for your co-operation with His ways. I have been praying for you.
If you have any questions or discussions for Barbie, post them here and I will pass them on to her for her for reply, or email directly at firstname.lastname@example.org