The fan and the chasing God
My 5 year old daughter has developed a fascination with fans in the past year. This fascination quickly turned into an irritating obsession that, by the grace of God, was transformed into a teaching tool for both of us.
At a family dinner, Eliana discovered her cousin's fan. It was beautifully made, decorated with embroidery and sparkles, very attractive for a 5 year old! The evening took an unpleasant turn when Eliana persisted in claiming the fan that her cousin did not want to lend her, fearing that she would break it. Eliana's requests kept on going. It was clear that she felt quite justified in asking for it; the fan was due to him. Unable to convince her cousin to lend it to her, she turned to me with the same tenacity. It was a lost cause for the evening. Stubborn, her inordinate desire for the fan ruined the evening with her cousin and also disturbed mine.
My parental interventions in relation to this situation varied. Some interventions, of which I am less proud, were moralizing and superficial, while others focused on the gospel and got to the heart of the matter. What was clear was that Eliana didn’t deserve my buying her a fan.
A week or two later, we went out for dinner with the family (very unusual outing for us). At the end of the meal, the waitress brought the bill and a box of surprises to our table. Our children all had the right to choose a little gift. To my astonishment and to Eliana's great joy, a fan was among the surprises! I pointed out to Eliana how unusual the situation was. “Wow, Eliana! You realize: not only are we not used to going out to restaurants, but in addition, this restaurant offers gifts to children, including a range! What luck! God has been good to you! ”
The fan in question did not last very long in the test of a family of 4 children, and Eliana's requests began again. A month later, the fan was still very precious to Eliana. She was once again confronted with her attraction when she was invited to a party. A game with various small gifts for the guests was organized. Eliana quickly “lost control” when she noticed that a friend had received a fan. She couldn't bear not being the one to receive this gift. I took him out of the game to get him out of the way. As my daughter is hyperactive, impulsiveness is a very strong character trait for her. States of disproportionate crisis are part of our daily life. I isolated her in a bedroom and hugged her in silence. Although the need to teach it and take it back was there, I couldn't speak. This crisis was far from a new situation, or a situation I had never addressed before, but that day I had no words. In this time of uncertainty and silence, God was at work in an unexpected way. I was still hugging her when someone came to the door to tell us that it was Eliana's turn to choose a gift to develop. There were only two presents left. Eliana, still sulky and frustrated, chooses a gift at random. She was unaware that there was a second fan among the gifts - this is the one she unwrapped! I couldn't believe my child, who didn't deserve a fan, had just been offered one, once again without my intervention! I could only conclude that God was orchestrating something ...but what?
My heart burns with love for my daughter, but it goes without saying that hyperactive children are not appreciated by everyone. They are often annoying children who disturb those around them. They mature less quickly than average and they have a knack for getting on your nerves with their quirks! They don't find favor in the eyes of many people. But God is pleased to love the one who is not lovable! He looks favorably on them. Christ came to save the rebellious hyperactive little ones. He has a special love for the weak.
I often feel anxious to see changes in heart and behavior in my children. The reality being that I face repeated failures. Through my parenting efforts, I can only see that the law is powerless to effect real change in their hearts. Rules and consequences do not guarantee me success. In the fan situation, God was pursuing my daughter in a different way, not with the law, but by grace. He warmed my exhausted mother's heart by reminding me how much he loves my difficult child. He was intervening in his life! He had just given us a personal example of his grace towards her. A concrete illustration, a perfect lesson in things to come and touch my daughter's heart. My heart was touched! God renewed and redirected my hope to him. My hope for success with my children cannot be based on their acts of obedience. Rather, my hope must be based on the goodness of God and His unique ability to come and touch their hearts through the gospel. Even the most hyperactive and rebellious child is not a lost cause for him! It doesn't take the extra strength to save a hyperactive child.
Having a child with a behavioral disorder is actually a blessing in disguise. Hyperactive children are disturbing because their weaknesses are more obvious. The state of their crooked hearts is soon revealed, for they have little restraint. They are not greater sinners, they simply hide their sins less well! The parenting formulas that give so many parents some success in seeing behavioral changes in their children are mostly ineffective with hyperactive children. Despite the difficulties this creates, the momentum for open rebellion is a good thing! It robs us of the subtle feelings of self-sufficiency that so easily reside in us. The spirit is powerfully at work in humbling ourselves before our Father. He prompts us to do what is unnatural; let go of our semblance of control and depend on our Father in prayer. There is also an advantage for the child in his weakness. It will be very difficult for him to rely on his own strength to achieve sustained obedience. He will be more quickly confronted with the evidence of his need for grace. In conclusion, parents of difficult children: we are actually to be envied! It is a good thing to lay bare the hearts of our little sinners! Our repeated failures to see changes in behavior prompt us, through the Spirit, to redirect our hope to God's grace to accomplish what only He can do in the hearts of our children.
My most recent reading speaks to me a lot. This is the book 'Give Them Grace' by Elyse Fitzpatrick and her daughter Jessica Thompson. Excellent book! In one of the chapters, she deals with the parable of the prodigal son. She says: 'Although the two sons are an integral part of the story, they are not the main characters. No, the main character of this story is the father who happily welcomes his two children '' (p.70).One of the sons fulfilled the law well. He was an obedient child. The pride of every parent! He did, however, show a heart full of pride and bitterness when his brother returned home. The other, the “prodigal” son, was his opposite; an open rebel. Both equally needed the grace of their father. Elyse further writes, “The father’s welcome extends to his two sons, although neither is worthy or deserves it. The father follows a greater and higher law: love and mercy '' (p.70). The child who brings us pride and the child who brings us shame both need the same measure of grace. And it is this grace that gives me hope that one day my daughter will come to repentance despite poor behavioral results in this season of our lives. The arms of his heavenly father are already wide open and ready to welcome him, I have had the proof!
My older daughters love to hear stories from their own past and often ask me to tell them. God knew it well! Even my hyperactive little one remains attentive when she makes an appearance. Last night I used this opportunity God gave us, this real life example of gracious love in the life of Eliana and all of our family. I told my daughters this story from their past: the story of the fan, of God's grace to them, of our utter depravity, and of the love of Christ who died to save anyone who believed in him. He fulfilled the law for us who could not. The fan has become a symbol in our home of the grace that Christ offers us through his work on the cross. It has also become a symbol of hope in my mother's heart that reminds me that God pursues my child with his love..