5 individual characteristics that my children have that I share with them and the lessons I have learned!

About 2 years ago I was asked to speak at a men's event here in Hawaii. I remember while speaking on character, I reflected on the characteristics I see in my children and what I learn from them. While at dinner that night, one of the men asked me how I knew my kids so well. I told him that I am an observer of people and practice that with my kids. In parenting, it is a must to observe and to think through how our children's character is being formed. This morning I woke up thinking about that conversation and reflected on current struggles I have had with my children and the revelation of some of their character. But before I talk about their character that I struggle with, let me brag on them. I am a blessed man by my kids. When I come home everyday, they leave whatever they are doing and run to me yelling my name. They burn for passion to be with me. They fight over who gets the next one on one daddy day. They show me their accomplishments and brag on what they have done for me. They honor me and give me very little grief. My kids rock, probably because my wife rocks!

My writing this today is actually a revelation of my own struggles with my own character. Each child has done something to show me how much I need to work on areas of my life, it just happened to be manifested through their life.

Let's start with my oldest daughter. This girl reminds me of me every time I look at her. I use to think she was my female clone (so I can be pretty), but recently I have seen her mother's eyes and cuteness in her face. She lovingly serves me when she can. She loves things that I love just because I love them. She is an artist and loves to care for her siblings. I love her with all my heart, but there is one area she struggles: worry. She worries about a lot of things. Many times a small cut or injury turns into panic. I use to think that she was a great actress but have come to see that my little girl struggles with worry. She worries about her own life but she also worries about everyone around her. Her struggle sometimes becomes a strength. She prays often for people in a way that is out of her worry for them. When thinking about her today I have to admit this is the one area I struggle most. I worry about a ton. It will lock me up and steal my joy because I am worried over every detail and person. There was a time that I worried so much that I made myself sick for a month. Yes, my oldest does this same thing. So what is the cure for worrying? It is simply knowing Christ more and allowing that knowledge to draw me into intimacy. Jesus said "do not worry about tomorrow ...". Why would He say that, but to draw me to my immediate need for intimacy. In the presence of Christ my cares are thrown down at His feet and I simply get to enjoy Him.

Now to my oldest son. This boy is a man in a boy's body. He is so mature for his age and is very caring. He loves his siblings (thought sometimes I think he wants to punch them). He does whatever I ask and does it the moment I ask. He listens to every word I say and lives those words (this is very dangerous for me). He is a sponge and is a gentle man. However, he shares a characteristic with me that I sometimes despise: he can miss the most wonderful moments because of how serious he is. He is a serious boy. I remember people telling me that he didn't like them because of the scowl on his face as he was analyzing his environment. Maybe I need to describe this characteristic as analytical. He is always checking out new situations with pause and questions. Many times he misses out on the fun we are having because he is analyzing everything around him, making sure he can be okay with it. I do this so much. Many times I am so analytical that I ruin the fun around me. While every one else is enjoying what is going on, I am too busy searching the landscape for danger. Often I guard my heart so much that I don't allow the moment to sink in. I have been guilty of being so serious that I had missed the joke. God reminds me to trust Him and not to be so guarded. Loving people and enjoying God's creation requires allowing myself to be put in situations that might not be the most favorable. Also, God reminds me that He is the one in control and calamity can come on me at anytime no matter where I put myself. Now this is not me telling you go skydiving, but the realization that I miss rejoicing with others because I am on guard. Also know that he is reserved sometimes when we need to be reserved. He has been level emotionally when necessary where I haven't. His character has also been a strength at times also.

My second oldest son, our middle child, is such a joy. I think that most middle kids are the funniest ones. They know how to make people smile and laugh. This is him to the T (University of Tennessee to be exact). This boy is what I need when I am being too serious (maybe why God gave us him to temper his older brother). This boy has no cares in the world. He plays with something for 5 minutes and walks to the next without missing a beat. He loves to live. This boy can bring joy to all of us at any moment by his dancing and funny sayings. There is never a dull moment in his life because he lives to live. He is also very loving but that love is more for his mother and I than for his siblings. I often here him yell after being hurt by one of his brothers or sisters only to find out that it was a great overreaction. He has the ability to over react to something. The other day, his little brother took a ball from him and I heard that patented yell. Of course I then overreacted and yelled at him. Man I need to learn to love him through those times and become a teacher instead of being bothered by that yell. This is what I do with most of the tough situations in my life, I tend to overreact and over think things. I can get locked up about the momentary pain and lose the joy I had just moments before. Again I can here the Lord say live in joy. Live the life I am living through you which brings joy. He teaches me not to overreact because ultimately He will use the momentary pain to build character into me. In my son, I see that his overreaction is really an expression of him living life to its fullest. If he is going to have full joy then he is going to fully react to anything. I need to embrace life like him and love everything God brings into my life.

My youngest daughter is our princess, really she says she's a princess and I am not going to argue with her. She knows how to love on me at the moments I need most. The other day, while I was struggling to find joy, she tells me "Daddy, you are the best daddy in the whole world and I love you!". She is the most affirming kid I know and always affirms me at the right time. She loves to make cards for me and is truly doing it out of her love for me. She twirls in dresses and have her hair like daddy likes it. I am her personal hair brusher because I do it gently. She is my snuggler and will wedge her little self into any place I am sitting. She loves with a strong love, but she also feels grief with a strong grief. She will hold onto emotions for a long time. She has come downstairs crying about something that happened 3 months ago, when she was supposed to be in bed for the night. When she hurts, she hurts for a long time. I share this with her. Many times, I simply do not know how to let go of pain. I have held onto things for years and begin to get mad at something that happened to me 8 years ago. It causes my emotions to be unstable and makes me mad for no reason. Again, God is so good to remind me that He has wiped away my past and He is the lover of my soul. He declares Himself not only to be my rock but the avenger of my life. He fights for me and tells me not to worry. When I look at her, I am reminded that this strong emotion is something that God gave her and I am to help her form that area of her life as a strength. It is a strength for her mostly and I cannot wait to see what kind of loving woman she becomes.

My youngest son is so much like his dad. He has a charismatic smile and can make you melt at anytime (what, you don't think I can do this, then talk to my wife). He is such a good looking kid and loves me so much. He loves everything that his siblings have and enjoys everything Michelle and I have also. One moment he is in Michelle's jewelry and the next he is chasing someone with a dart gun wearing a kickboxing helmet. He is brave and many times has proved it by running into the on coming waves as I chase him down at the beach. He loves technology and being outside. In fact if I set up technology outside, he might just sit there all night. He loves water and doesn't mind pouring it everywhere he lives. Many of you might be laughing right now because you think he is getting into everything and you would be right. However, this makes me enjoy him. The characteristic that he possesses that drives me nuts is his stubbornness (okay, stop looking at me with that look). Yes I am stubborn, but this is about him for the next few sentences. He will throw a fit when I tell him "no" until I distract him with something else (something else I share with him). He wants what he wants and only something more shiny or fun to him will replace it. He is always satisfied and never satisfied at same time. This is so me. I can get so set on something that I cannot be happy about anything else unless it in my minds, blows it away. I become the ruler of my happiness and get myself into trouble being so stubborn. God reminds me that He has formed me and in that forming He knows what will satisfy me most, which is Himself. So many times I had fought with God pushing to find joy in my own desires that were not based off of an intimate relationship with Him but based off others opinions and influences. God made me to be satisfied in Him and all that He gives. This is such a hard lesson for me because I always think I know whats best even when I am wrong (which is not often, hehe). Oh, one of the good things I learn from my youngest: it is okay to play with other people's stuff, as long as they are okay with it and I don't break it.

My children carry my characteristics and so many times characteristics can be strengths or become weaknesses. However, I want to point out that my character doesn't define my identity but reveals areas of work toward living out who I am. We are not to be defined by action but by birth. No matter what my kids do (bad or good) they will always be my kids. This is the same for those who are followers of Jesus. We will never lose the fact that we are God's kids, we might not act like it so many times. Christ changed all of us when we allowed Him to have our lives so that He would live His life through us. I am everything that He says I am because of birth, I may not always act that way but I am always His.

All of my characteristics that are or become faults can simply be corrected through intimacy with Christ. God changes me as I am with Him. It is my primary calling, to be with Him. When I am with Him, I see the areas that I lack in but I also see Him change those areas by living His life through me (eternal life).

If you do not have an intimate relationship with God, you can. Without Him you and I are orphans headed for eternal destruction. We mess up because we do what comes natural to our surroundings and what's inside of us. We break His law because we will not admit that His ways are better but think we know best. God the Father killed His son Jesus to pay the penalty for our rebellion and offers eternal life (intimacy with Him forever) to all of us. Jesus also rose from the dead showing us that He is God and that He is the way of life forever. However, if we do not surrender to Him, He will not save us from eternal punishment for our actions. We must receive the gift of Jesus Christ to be able to be with Him forever. If you need Christ, pray today, tell Him that you have rebelled, apologize for the rebellion, trust Him, forsake your life and let Him lead you. If I can be a help, please contact me.

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