Sunday, January 22, 2017

when systems fail

There is a lie we believe when we pick up the cumbersome burden of “systems” and it is this: I can manage my kids behavior, I can manage their hearts, I can manage their attitudes, I can manage my relationship with them if only I have, discover, create the right system.

I believe systems can help us manage our time, our schedules and even a lot of the “school” we’d like to accomplish, but systems cannot manage the way we are being called to train and disciple and lead our children.

The work of training a child’s heart and showing them the abundance of God’s love for them cannot be bound up in an excel spreadsheet, though I have often wished and even tried to make it so. 
A system, a list, a rule….these things are not alive in our homes.  They are not breathing in and out the air and atmosphere of our lives.  A system cannot conform itself in the face of hurt feelings, sickness, or even manipulation of the system itself (not that any of our kids would do that).  But, BUT the Holy Spirit is alive in our homes.  He is breathing our air and changing our atmospheres. And working in us and even, EVEN in our kids, if we’ll only trust him and slow down and watch and listen.

I’m still working out the kinks on this, but the more I process and learn as I parent and homeschool, the more it seems like a blanket system for managing behavior inevitably fails.

A system for chores, sure, meals, definitely, screen time, without a doubt, even a system for accomplishing school is needed and welcomed, but a system for relationships and behaviors and hearts stifles the living, active work of the Holy Spirit.

I feel it gnawing at my insides, reworking my heart and renewing my mind…a system can never tame their tender hearts for Jesus and when I try to squish all that is ian and all that is avery and all that is ashton and all that God is intending for the whole of their precious lives into a system of control and rules, I unknowingly take bits of God’s authority away from my home.  I begin to unconsciously rely on any number of my “systems” instead of relying on Him.  Oh how the broken places of my heart feel this unintended consequence.  How I grieve taking any amount of the Holy Spirit’s authority away from my home.

I hear it just now, the whispers of calling these kids into the mystery of who God is and all of the beauty and joy that can be found in following his still, small guiding voice.

We are not commanded to be kind, we are invited to be!
We are not commanded to serve and to sacrifice, we are invited to!

The path to joy is in this invitation.  Oh may I present it to them as such. 

It’s more work this way, you know.  It’s more time, more prayer, more falling on our faces in desperation.  This way leaves us more uncertain, it forces us to sit in the space of “I don’t know what to do” more.  And I hate that space.

Instead of slapping the correct consequence on the offending behavior, this way requires listening to our children’s voices in the midst of squabbles, looking in their eyes, observing the entire situation and then taking their hands into our ours as together we turn towards Jesus.

The battles of our day and the ongoing battle for our children’s hearts will be won in the wee hours of the morning where we can steal bits of time to turn our ears and our faces and our whole selves toward Him.  

We can have a plan for lying, sure.   And even a plan for when those darlings holler at each other.  How about a plan for rolled eyes and stomping up the stairs?  Yes and check and now I know what I’ll do.  Oh, but wouldn’t I rather wait and see what the Lord’s plan is? Don’t I want to trust in his slow work in my home? I lay down my plan in order to make space for His.

“Children, look, see.  This is the way to joy. This is the way to a soul fulfilled by Jesus.  Follow me as I follow Christ.”


Melissa said...

Beautiful, Mandy!

Reminded me of that "This is the air I breathe" worship song that I've always loved.

gigi said...

Oh I love that song Melissa! Yes!!! Let us breathe in the air of the Holy Spirit and make space for Him to guide us in the molding of our little ones hearts!!! I love your eloquent words and thoughts Mandy! Your heart towards Jesus is so precious! 💕

Mandy said...

Thank you my precious friends!