Leaving the Past Behind and Planning for the future.
As the year draws to a close, despite our busy schedules, we need to find time to sit and reflect on the past year and plan for the coming year. What mistakes did we make in the past year? What lessons did we learn from them? Are our families stronger than they were last year? How can we make improvements on lessons learned even as we leave the past behind and reach for the future?
1. Let him who has no sin throw the first stone.
I always remember Jesus’ words when the woman caught in adultery was brought to him with demands that she should be stoned to death for her sins. Jesus dealt with it so aptly. “Let him who has no sin throw the first stone.” How often do we parents find ourselves in this situation? How many times do we get so disappointed with our teens that it affects our relationship with them? I totally agree it is very tough to move on when your child has been caught using drugs or skipping school and hanging with the wrong crowd. Or perhaps there was an accidental pregnancy or they failed a grade because they made no effort. These events can rock every family to its very core, and yet we have to remember, just as we are not perfect, neither are our children. It’s time for us parents to take a hard look at ourselves and our children. Have we put our children on pedestals that if they fall from we can’t forgive them for the fall? Are we approachable to them? Have we discussed whatever the issue was honestly and accepted our responsibility for it? And when our teens come to us honestly admitting their mistake and saying they are sorry, we should find it in our hearts to forgive them and move on. We are not perfect, and neither are they.
2. As much as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone
It can be very difficult to make the effort to live at peace with everyone, and yet the bible tells us that as much as it depends on us, we should live at peace with everyone. That means swallowing our pride this Christmas, and reaching out to the relative who offended us years ago and who we have found it very difficult to forgive. Also, when our teens go into the “teenage tantrum” and refuse to talk to us, do we also square our shoulders and say, “It is on. He needs me more than I need him.” We are the adults. We have to remember what it was like as a teen and be willing to extend the proverbial olive branch. It’s the same in our relationships with our spouses and significant other. We don’t lose anything if we are the first to reach out after a fight. I’ve been both the donor and recipient of the silent treatment and neither side is good. Everyone in the family suffers. Let’s make the effort as much as it depends on us, to live at peace with all our family members. Our teens will see and learn from us.
3. Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord. Keep watch over the door of my lips
This bible verse is my personal favorite. As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to realize how true it is, there really is power and death in the power of the tongue. Parents need to make an effort to speak power over their children’s lives. How easy it is for us to say, “Oh, this one is my trouble maker.” You are absolutely right, they will be your trouble maker. We sometimes cut our children down when we are upset with them to the point they lose confidence in themselves. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for disciplining kids, but the point of discipline is to help them learn from their mistakes and become better. Discipline does not equate to excessive punishment because we are in a bad mood or cutting them down to size. Every morning when we wake up, we should speak a blessing over our children’s lives. Pray for them to excel, to learn from their mistakes, to become useful members of society. Our words are so powerful, so let’s use them wisely to bless our families especially as this year comes to an end and we begin the New Year.
4. Behold how good and pleasant it is for brothers to dwell in unity.
At no time is sibling rivalry and family disharmony more obvious than around the holidays when everyone comes home. It seems there is always one person who feels betrayed by the family. Maybe this year, instead of shunning that person and reinforcing those old beliefs, we should all make an effort to be united. Develop a sense of humor. Don’t get defensive when you are accused of loving one person more than the other. Listen to the injured party and reassure them. They may be totally wrong but if you get defensive you will never get to the root of the problem. There is so much a family united can endure together versus a family fractured by division.
As the year draws to a close, we should take time to reflect on the past year and prepare to make 2017 an amazing year for our entire family. Learn to forgive your teens and spouses or significant other all the pain they caused this year. Remember, you are not perfect either. We should march on with the Word of God as a sword and learn to speak life over our teens and families.
Reflect on the past year and leave all the hurts and disappointments behind and reach forward towards 2017 with anticipation and great joy for a wonderful year.