Confession: I was “that child”. So, a lot of the “that child” stuff I get because I am speaking from experience! It’s not that hard for me.
For those of you who weren’t “that child,” and have given birth, or adopted a “that child”…let me say that I pray for you. We are unique creatures and it is a journey into our world and to try to understand us. But I really believe that most of the time it’s worth it.
Today I want to talk about a character in the Bible whom you probably just love and admire.
I know that I have long admired this particular character. One day I was thinking there’s got to be a Biblical character we can relate to, and probably you would also agree, there’s probably even several “that child” examples in the Bible.
I am going to suggest to you that I believe the primary example, Biblically, of “that child” and in the most positive of terms, would be Peter in the New Testament.
I believe this so much so, in fact, I have often thought that if I had known that my oldest son, Charles, was going to be as much of “that child” as he has become I probably would have aptly named him Peter.
Could This be “That Child?”
Peter was a fisherman. Historically, most scholars believe that he was the oldest apostle.
Yet, when Jesus said, “Follow me,” one of the most amazing first acts of Peter’s life was, he followed. He followed Christ.
Now, you and I might think of that as rash. He didn’t really know Christ. But when Christ looked at him there must have been something about Christ that when Peter saw that look in his eye, when Peter heard that invitation extended, Peter got it. He was like, “Yeah, I want to follow you.”
He followed. That’s huge, that’s very powerful. We also see examples of brashness. Examples of enthusiasm. Examples of passion, and charisma, that God can used in Peter’s life.
As we are walking through this I want you to consider your “that child.” Are these things that you see in them. Are these examples of things that they do? And that currently may be really driving you crazy and aggravate you?
Could it be that as we look at the life of Peter today we can start to look at those things a little differently, with grace, and with insight, and with wisdom, and stop allowing the enemy to make all of these actions look awful just because they are not the actions we wanted or thought they should have been?
Let’s start to look at these behaviors just a little differently.
Your “that child” also needs to know that they’re not alone. That there’s hope and that God has a plan. Just like God had a plan for Peter, God has a plan for them.
He Dared to Go
Next we’ll look at an account where Jesus has been up all night praying. His disciples have been fishing all night. It says that they were battered by the waves. They were trying so desperately to catch something, catch anything, and then out of the darkness of the storm (they’re exhausted, they’re tired, they’re discouraged) here comes Jesus walking on the water.
Peter sees it and he says, “Lord, you tell me to come and I will come.”
Jesus simply says, “Come.”
We know that Peter, out of all of those disciples in the boat, Peter is the only one that dared to get out of the boat and actually walk on the water.
I want you to suggest to you today, as you consider Peter, how did he get out of the boat? Because I’m betting, if I think of Peter and the totality about what we know about him in Scripture, he didn’t gingerly step over the side of that boat.
I would like to suggest to you that he hurdled the side of the boat.
He was so enthusiastic, and so rash, and so passionate, about everything he did. Look, I believe that Peter had the same mantra that I often live by. Play hard or go home.
That’s how he lived. It was all or nothing for Peter.
So we see that Peter gets out of the boat and actually walks. He’s successful as long as, what? As long as he focuses his eyes on Christ. But Scripture tells us clearly that he got distracted by the waves and he went down. Jesus extended his hand and pulled him up.
That’s “that child”. So enthusiastic, so excited, so passionate about what they’re doing, and yet often easily distracted.
Who Do You Say?
The next example I want to talk to you about is when Jesus asked Peter, “Hey!” (He’s actually asking all of the disciples.) “Who do they say that I am?”
They said, “Well, some say that you are Elijah. Some say you’re this person.” And Jesus looks squarely at Peter and says, “No, no, no. Who do you say that I am?”
And Peter said (get this, get the insight that Peter has), Peter said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Whoa! Peter got who Jesus was. In the midst of the confusion, in the midst of the teachers of the law, and the scribes and the Pharisees who studied the Old Testament, who had all the prophecies, who should have got who Jesus was, they didn’t get it!
If they did, they denied it. But Peter, a fisherman, got who Christ was. He made that bold statement saying who Christ was. You’ll remember that Jesus said, “On this rock, on the rock of that confession, I will build my church.” It’s just beautiful.
Another example is when Jesus took the inner circle of Peter, James, and John. So you remember, there was Peter and then James and John were called the sons of Thunder. They were actually the sons of Zebedee.
They had quite a reputation. The three of them were like Jesus’ inner circle. And there are several occasions in Scripture where we see Jesus takes those three, in a special way, aside to teach them something or show them something.
In this instance, He takes them up on the Mount of Transfiguration. You’ll remember that Peter was elated, literally beside himself. If you’ve got a “that child” you’ve seen that. There are times when they are just so enthusiastic, and so joyful, and so into what’s going on that they are not thinking straight. That was true in this instance with Peter.
In this situation Peter is like, “Ah! This is awesome! We’ll stay right here on the mountain and I’ll build a tent for you, and for you, and for you!”
You can just kind of see Jesus go, “Ugh, Peter! No! That’s not the point of me bringing you up here. It wasn’t for us to stay on the mountain, Peter. I brought you up here on the mountain so that we could go back down off the mountain.” The Lord Christ did not explain that to Peter but it’s implied in Scripture as Jesus just moves forward.
Remember the Last Supper?
The lowest job that any servant would have had at this last supper, indeed in this culture, would have been the servant who would have washed the feet of all in attendance for this dinner. These feet would have been really dirty, and yucky, and grimy, and smelly. But even in all the preparation that the disciples had made for the last supper there had not been anyone chosen to wash their feet.
Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, saw again (this is the pattern throughout Christ’s walk on the planet), he saw a need and he responded to it. We call that compassion.
Here once again, in the Biblical account of what Jesus did, we know that he saw the need. Instead of doing what I would have wanted to do, and maybe what many of you wanted to do, and assign the task to someone else, he simply (Scripture says) lay aside his outer garment, just like he had laid aside his right to be equal with the Father.
He girded himself, it says. He poured water in a basin, to symbolize he was about to pour out his life. He then got down on his knees and began to wash their feet. It’s really a powerful picture!
I think a hush must have fallen across the room. As Jesus is down on his knees, washing their feet (and it’s a story for another day, but let this sit on you for a minute), Judas went to deny Christ with clean feet. Because Jesus washed their feet before Judas left.
Anyway, he comes to Peter, and it’s time. It’s clear what Jesus is doing. Peter was not the first person, not the first set of feet that Jesus washed. And Jesus comes to Peter and Peter goes, “You’re not washing my feet!”
Do you see that? Do you see the passion again? Do you see the pride, the arrogance of Peter? “You’re not going to wash my feet!” Yet Christ, who is our example, responds compassionately, and patiently, with Peter.
As the dinner goes on Jesus tells them again that he is going to be betrayed and he’s going to die.
Peter says, “I will die with you.”
Jesus looks at him and says, “Peter, before the cock crows, before the rooster sounds his morning call, you will deny me three times.” Ugh! That had to hurt. That had to sting. To hear the lord and master that he was pledging allegiance to, turn to him and says, “Oh, Peter, no. Not this time.”
Yet there must have been something in Peter that was like, “NO! It can’t be true!”
The Bible says that they sang a hymn and they went out. They go to the garden. Once again, we have another example of how Jesus let the disciples “stay here” and he took that inner circle, Peter, James, and John, a little further Scripture says, and he asked them to pray. Then it says that Jesus went a little further and fell down and prayed to the Father.
He just went and called out to the Father, and begged, and begged, and begged for another way to save mankind and to glorify the Father. Finally, Jesus comes back the third time. They’re sleeping and he says, “Here comes my betrayer.”
He goes to meet those who had come to arrest him. It’s really remarkable in Scripture when you hear how many people came to arrest Christ. He, himself says, “Look. I was in the temple many times. I was in the marketplace many times. You could have taken me. You don’t need all of this.” In fact, when Jesus said, “Who are you seeking?” and they said “Jesus” he said, “I am.”
You’ll notice, in Scripture it says they fell back. That was the power of who he really was. It is at this moment, when they have come to arrest Christ, that Peter takes his sword out and hacks off the ear of Malchus.
I want to promise you that Peter was not aiming for Malchus’ ear. I’m confident that in that day and time it wasn’t the way to defeat your enemy, to cut off their ears. I’m pretty sure that Peter was aiming for Malchus’ throat, and Malchus ducked, and all Peter got was his ear.
Again, you see Jesus going, “Ugh! Peter! Put it away. That’s not what this is going to be about.” Then it says they went on to arrest Christ. Peter followed, at a distance. See, Peter is now wanting to watch. But he’s probably forgotten about that prediction that Jesus made. In fact, we know he has! Because John helps to get Peter into the inner courtyard where Jesus is being tried.
Three times, Scripture tells us, that Peter did indeed deny his Christ there. When the cock crowed upon the third time it says he went away despairing. He knew in that instance everything that Christ had said, the whole ministry, must have come rushing back to his mind.
But here’s the turning point, on Sunday morning when there came a knock at the door, and the women were saying the tomb was empty, it says that Peter and John ran to the tomb. In fact, it’s more specific than that. When John’s gospel is written, John says that he beat Peter but when Peter got there he didn’t respectfully stand outside of the empty tomb. Peter went all the way in just like we would expect that child to do! He didn’t stand aside. He went in to see for himself that Christ’s body was resurrected and was not there.
Do You Love Me?
Then, the next time we see Peter he’s fishing and Jesus is on the seashore. He’s asking them if they have caught anything. Peter says,“ If you say to put the nets on the other side that’s what I’ll do.” He does and they make a catch. It’s on that seashore that day that Jesus looks at Peter and says, “Peter, do you love me?” Peter at first flippantly answers, “You know that I love you!”
Jesus looks at him again and says, “Peter, do you love me?” Peter answers, “Yes, I love you!” Then Jesus says, “Tend my sheep.” And a third time, three times, once for each one of Peter’s denial, Jesus Christ affirms Peter back, all the way back, as a disciple of Christ.
So this Peter who denied, this Peter who was rash, this Peter who acted before he thought, Jesus pulled him all the way back, forgave and affirmed him for his denial, and launched him into ministry that still blesses Christians today as he was an example on the day of Pentecost. You’ll read in the book of Acts that it’s says, “…And Peter, taking his stand.” Yes, it was on the day of Pentecost that among all the other disciples, when everyone was criticizing them and assuming that they were drunk, it was Peter who stood up and made the case for Christ.
Obviously, he went on to write first and second Peter. We also know that when it came time for Peter to die he refused to be crucified in the same way that Christ had been and was actually crucified upside down.
Be Encouraged, Mom
Look, it’s very easy to get discouraged with our “that child” and it’s very easy for us to think that God cannot use them. But I think today’s example of Peter is a primary example of the fact that God does need strong men and women, often we refer to them as “that kid”, to grow his kingdom, to stand up for Him.
They’re going to make mistakes, just like Peter did.
They’re going to be rash, just like Peter did.
But do you see how beautifully Christ kept drawing Peter in, and affirming him, and being patient with him?
Mom, that’s our job. Our job is to not break their passion, to not steal their charisma, to not discourage their enthusiasm, but to bend it in the direction of Jesus Christ so that they can change the world for the goodness and the glory of God.
Go and enjoy your “that child”. God has great plans for them, and God has great plans for you, too, Mom.
It is my heart’s passion to encourage you in raising that child. As the mother of at least two, probably more like two or three or four of “Those Children” myself, they really do have my heart. I know how challenging they can be but I also know what a joy and what a privilege it is to be their mom. I’m here to encourage you.
Today I want to look at something very near and dear to my heart. That is the issue of how to bend “That Child” without breaking “That Child”.
I know what it’s like to have a day with “That Child” where you just want to yell and scream. You just want to tie them in a knot. You’re just at the end of your rope. Whether it’s the incessant questions or it’s the confronting your authority, or the belligerence, or the inability to focus….I remember one time sending my “That Child” who is now much older to the mailbox to get the mail. I was distracted by all the other children in the house and didn’t realize how long he had been gone. When he came back in, about 30 minutes later (p.s. It’s only about a minute walk to and from our mailbox!) he had done everything but what? Get the mail!
Yes, I know about those long days when focus flies out the window.
Another time I sent him downstairs to get a roll of paper towels. He came back with…. A hammer! It can be very frustrating. I get it, my friend.
I get the frustration that can just build. I know that you do, too. I don’t know if it’s been that day at your house. I want to talk to you about how do we bend these kids and not break them? We are not called to break them.
My two youngest sons that are now 14 and 13 have recently gotten really kind of deep into entomology. That’s the study of bugs. They procured a beetle for this unit of study. This beetle was very, very, very stiff. There was no way that they could spread out the legs of this beetle, or his antennae. They couldn’t do anything. In fact, this beetle actually had wings underneath this hard shell; but there’s no way that they could expose those wings in order to see the beauty of this beetle. Enter the softening chamber. This is just a piece of Tupperware with an airtight seal, some damp paper towels, and a moth ball so that this little beetle becomes movable.
He had to sit in that in that airtight chamber for 3 or 4 days. The boys could just wait for this beetle to soften up and be malleable, to be movable, so that they can go in and manipulate the parts and study this beetle.
What does that process have to do with bending and not breaking “That Child”? I want to suggest to you, a whole lot! Very often our kids are a lot like that atrophied beetle…really hard and really stuck in a single position. We want to come in and just force this beetle to do what we want it to do. In fact, the boys have had an experience or two where they didn’t wait long enough. Apparently, the anticipation of studying this beetle really builds. They would get impatient! (Sound familiar?!)
They would just jump right in and start opening wings, moving a leg or antennae. And guess what…wings broke off, legs broke off, antenna broke off and the boys would end up really frustrated. Because it probably only needed another 24 hours.
I think this speaks directly to us as moms because all too often, just like my boys see in these little beetles, we can see in our children what they could be. We can see the beauty of what God’s created and the position that God has formed them for in this universe and we have a vision for what they could do in God’s kingdom.
But then we go and we don’t wait for them to grow into that position on their own. We want to cut to the chase instead of enjoying the journey. We end up, breaking that child, just like my boys would break a beetle that simply wasn’t ready to be handled yet. Now, I don’t think we mean to do this, but we are capable, of breaking “That Child”.
What I want you to know is this: they’re a lot more sensitive than you might think they are. I know with my original “That Child”, I was confident that he was behaving the way he was behaving just to get at me. I was confident that he knew exactly what he was doing. But all this time later I can tell you this, let me just tell you, young mom of a “That Child” who has driven you crazy today… they are not doing it on purpose. They really are unaware of what they are doing in most instances.
Look, I get that there are times when they push every one of our buttons at the same time. I know what that’s like. But I also know that there’s a lot of time when they are just wrestling through being them. They’re really not trying to push all your buttons. They really kind of accidentally rubbed up against them.
Three keys to raising that child
- Humility is key. In order for us to mold these children into the young men and women, the warriors for the Kingdom, that God intends for them to be, we ourselves must come to this task broken. Humble. We cannot come to this task of molding our children, and discipling our children, if we have not dealt with our own brokenness. If we have not yet come to terms with how desperate we are for a Savior, if we are not aware of how much forgiveness, and grace, and mercy has already been bestowed upon us, then we are not in a position to bend anyone.We must first bend our own knees before we can invite our children to bend their knees. Guess what? They know. We might be able to fool everyone else in our lives but we can not fool “That Child”. The key is for us to come humble, for us to come submitted. Look, your kids get to see how you live this every day of your life. If Mom is submitted to God, does she worship Him? Does she sing praise to Him? Does she point others to Him? Does she have the joy of the Lord and the confidence, and the hope of salvation every day?
Mom, before we can begin this task we must deal with our own hearts.
- Build that relationship. Next, I want to suggest to you that we need to focus on making our kids malleable and moldable. How do we that? We do it by loving them.
Remember in the Bible when Paul wrote, “Christ loved us while we were unlovable?” That’s true! God didn’t wait until you and I had it all together and all figured out. I’ve known people in my past who were waiting to get it all together before they came to Christ. But it says in the Bible that He loved us while we were yet sinners. He loved us!That love, as we start to embrace that love, and learn about that love, it makes our hearts malleable towards Him. It’s the same with our children.
We must first point our children, as we’re seeking to mold them, and to bend them, and not break them, we must first point them to God. The wonder of His creation, His majesty, all of His attributes… I’ve recommended to you before A. W. Tozer’s “Knowledge of the Holy” and I commend it to you once again. Introduce your kids to the God of the universe after you’ve dealt with your own need for him.
Just love on your kids!
When my boys put this beetle into that chamber, the whole point is to make it moist so that it can move. The best way for our kids to want to respond to our bending is that they know how loved they are by God, how wonderfully he has planned a life for them, given them hope of salvation through the gift of His son, and placed him, this child, in your family, and how much you love them. It is the light of that love that we can bend them.
In the Bible we are commended not to exasperate our kids. That happens when we are just on them all the time without engaging in a conversation. It’s easier to exasperate because exasperation doesn’t take any time at all. It doesn’t take any self-control. It doesn’t take any patience. It doesn’t take any wisdom or insight. It’s just as responding in our frustration. It’s really easy to exasperate.
Engagement takes time. It means that right when we want to explode we exhale and we get a hold of ourselves. We do what we want them to do. We allow the spirit of the Holy, Mighty God to come and grant us patience, and wisdom, and insight. Let us not exasperate our children. Let’s engage, especially with “That kid”.
Rules without relationship lead to breaking. When you are just going to insist on them doing x, y, and z without having a relationship… Look, it’s just like that the key to our relationship with God. It’s not that we have to obey Him, it’s that we get to. We get to this place when we understand the love that He’s given in His son’s dying on the cross to pay a sin penalty that we can never pay. The more that we know this truth, the more than we accept that love, and embrace that love, the more love we have to give to others.
I have a policy that now that I have four out of the house anytime any of those four call, I’m answering the phone. I don’t care what time of night it is or what time of the morning it is.
- Demands without discipleship make for breaking. Let’s not just demand that our children do what we want them to do. I know that early on as a mom, the number one thing I wanted was for my kids to make me look good. I am pretty confident that I am not the only one who has had that as a priority.But I am so grateful to be liberated from that one. My priority for my children now is that they would be disciples of Jesus Christ. That in everything they do and say He will receive all of the glory. That they would grow their sanctification in him every single day. That takes discipleship!
Do you see the trend here? Exasperation, rules, and demands don’t take any time. They’re quick, and they are easy, and they are a result of our impatience and our frustration. But engagement, relationship, and discipleship are the three things, through love, that make our kids moldable and helps us not break their little hearts. Not break their little wills, but bend them.
Look, mom, if you have been given the trust of a “That Child” in your house, I want to tell you boldly and with great confidence today, your God does not need the will of “That Child” broken. This world needs more strong-willed women and men of God who will stand boldly on the truth of Jesus Christ. We just need to make sure that their will is not broken but bent to the things of God. The enemy comes to kill, steal, and destroy. He knows that one of the strengths of your “That Child” is their strong will. He seeks to steal it, to destroy it, to kill it.
It is our job, it is our joy, it is our opportunity, it is our delight to bend their will towards the things of God so that can use that strong will that He gave them to glorify Him and point others to Him. My friends, raising that child is difficult. It’s frustrating. It is also an incredible journey. Embrace it, don’t fight it.
I want to take a little break from all the serious talk about That Child. Don’t worry, I still have more insight to share about raising That Child, but I think it’s important for us to keep laughing and understanding that God has a sense of humor even in the midst of all the hard stuff. At the end of the day He’s always trying to do two things glorify himself, and grow us. It’s really good for us to use the gift of laughter that He’s given us, to create a little levity in what can be very overwhelming circumstances with “That” Child.
So I just want to go through this little list, I actually have eleven items, and i’m hoping that at the end of this you will be able to add your own items in the comments below. I’m sure there’s a lot of other ideas that we could all add to this list, let’s start with these:
You might have a “That” Child if…
#1: You might have a “That” Child if they demand all of your attention.
Can I get an amen?! If you have “That” Child, they demand all of you, they demand parts of you that you didn’t even know you had, they demand the exhausted and the tired and the overwhelmed parts of you. The spent parts of you, the parts of you you don’t know what to do with. They demand it all, and they demand it all the time. Yes they do.
I’m here to tell you that when my oldest “That” Child was still at home, I used to go in at night and just watch him sleep, cause he was so still and he looked so innocent. Laying in there in the bed he wasn’t demanding anything of me. And then I would just go cry.
If you have a “That” Child you know exactly what I mean. They demand parts of you, and so much of you, and the glorious part of them demanding so much of you is it means you need that much more of God. See, the blessing of God sending me “That” Child, more than once was that it caused me to have to lean into Him. I knew that I needed Him, because of how much my “That” Child needed me. And when I ran out of me, I needed God. That was the blessing of it.
#2: You might have a “That” Child if their mood is completely unpredictable, moment to moment.
If you have “That” Child, you don’t always know who’s gonna wake up in their room in the morning. They might be totally agreeable and joyful and cooperative and you will want to know who woke up in their room. And they might be that way to breakfast…but after breakfast, you don’t even know what happens, it completely changes. “That” Child’s mood is all over the map, as are their interests, and their curiosity, and their attention, it’s all over everywhere.
“That” Child they can change, and turn around on a dime, and you keep trying to figure out “What did we do to get the cooperative, and what did we do to get the not cooperative”.
Here’s one thing I’m going to tell you over and over about “That” Child for all those times we’re thinking “I don’t know how to do this, this is so hard, this is so tiring” I want us to take the opportunity to pause, and consider what might it be like to be “That” child.
I’m going to propose this: it is hard to be “That” Child. It’s hard for their emotions to be all over the map. It’s hard for them to not know what they’re interested in, or how to pay attention, or how to focus, or how did they get on this, that, or the other thing? They’re wondering all that too.
It’s not just us.
And they deserve more than a little bit of our compassion as they navigate the intersection in those pre-teen and teen years of not just their “That” Child wiring but also those hormones when they kick in. They don’t know themselves – so we could stand to be compassionate and more caring with them.
#3: You might have a “That” Child if you cannot hear them, you know you must find them.
I had two boys before I had any daughters, and I had friends who had girls first and I remember going over to one of my friend’s house who just had daughters and I was like “Uhm, where are the girls?” And she said “Oh they’re in their room playing” And I thought to myself, Wow, what must that be like? My boys, If I couldn’t hear them I needed to find them, and I needed to find them quickly because you know what? They were probably doing something, that they shouldn’t be doing, and that’s how it is!
Not necessarily sneaky, not necessarily deceptive, although that was certainly true, but I’m talking about doing things because they were just so curious. Things they shouldn’t have been messing with. It’s truly what they needed to do. They needed to chase their curiosity but I needed to be around them when they did, giving them permission to be curious.
“That” Child is very curious, “That” Child wants to know things and investigate things, and if we can give them permission to do those things when we’re with them it cuts down on their need to do those in a sneaky way. But you know what I mean, “That” Child is not generally quiet, so if they are, ya need to find them!
#4: You might have a “That” Child if their thinking rarely precedes their actions.
Yes, you know what it’s like. You’ve told them a thousand times, you know you’ve told them, you’ve trained them, you’ve intentionally interjected truth in their lives, and guess what they do? Not what you say.
But it’s not because you haven’t said it, it’s because they aren’t thinking.
Many many many times I would say to mine: “Wait, think. Were you thinking? You need to pause and think. Make sure you’re thinking.” See, they just rush into action. But the good news is, they’re home with us and we can teach them!
If we can have the patience of the holy spirit over and over again we can teach them the power and the importance of thinking before they act.
#5: You might have a “That” Child if graduation seems really far away.
On The heels of one of our most difficult years with “That” Child as a homeschooling family, we went to our state conference in May. We had just been through 9 months of really challenging character issues and self control issues. I’m not even sure how much we actually accomplished in school that year because we were constantly dealing with these issues. Anyway, it got to May and we went to our state homeschool conference. Our state conference offers a senior graduation and I went in to watch it because I felt like I’ve just gotta get some inspiration, it just seems impossible that we are ever gonna make it to graduation with “That” Child.
So I’m sitting there, by myself, and there was this woman behind me and I began to cry and in her compassion she put her arm around me and she said “Which one’s yours?” She asked this as they filed across the stage and I said “none of them, my oldest one is twelve!”
But as I was looking at those graduates I was like “Oh please God, can we get to that? Can we make it to that? Would you give us what we need to make it to that?” On that day, that graduation seemed really far off.
If that’s you today I wanna encourage you to hold on, God’s got this. You’re on a journey, He’s got a plan, hold His hand, and take one day at a time.
#6: You might have a “That” Child if nothing seems to work.
Yes, it’s difficult with “That” Child. I went through all the books, I read The Strong Willed Child, The Sensory Sensitive Child…I mean I read everything I could get my hands on. I was looking for something that I could actually do to help. If they gave me any indication of time out, or putting them over here or doing a chart or whatever they said I was like “Ok we’re gonna try this”
And I tried, and I tried, and I tried, and I tried, but nothing seemed to work.
And I felt like “My goodness, what am I gonna do?” But again, I wanna tell you, the fact that nothing worked made me again, lean into God, made me go to God. The numbers of times I was on my face just trying to call out to God and say “What do you want me to do? I don’t know how to do this, I don’t know how to train him, I don’t know what to say.” And I would go and God always provided. He always gave me some creative Idea of something to try, He always gave me discernment and the wisdom I need as he dried my tears, and he bonded our hearts together as I leaned into God for that.
So even though it felt like nothing worked from what the world was offering, it gave me an opportunity to go to God and ask God “What do I do for “That” Child? For this specific “That” Child, what do you want me to do?” And He always answered.
#7: You might have a “That” Child if you worry about the effect they’re having on your other children.
This is one of the more serious ones on the list, and I had this in spades when we were going through this really intense time with our oldest, who was “That” Child. I remember just crying out to God and saying “I don’t understand, you sent me 6 more after him, how is it possible? He needs everything! I don’t even know how to do this and I don’t even know if I talked to this child today, I don’t even know if I hugged this other child today and I know I didn’t read to this other child today.”
And I would just cry and cry and cry.
I want to tell you, all of these years later one of the things that we would say to the kids when our “That” Child was having so many problems and one of the other kids would come up and say “What’s wrong? I don’t understand. Why does he have to get so angry? Why does he have to argue with everything? Why does he get so mad?” And we would talk to the other children about this and I would always encourage them to pray for him and we would always pause and pray for him and obviously we prayed with him many many times. Today I can tell you that my kids don’t resent it, that’s not how they remember it because you know what?All of my kids have had issues and we’ve had to pray them all through different things, that just happened to be his thing.
Look, I’ve said this before and it’s very valuable, I wish I knew who to credit with this saying because it is so poignant: “What defines you as a person, is what you believe about God.” And everybody will know that by the way you live, how you give, what you do, and what you don’t do, what you watch and what you don’t read, ok?
What defines you as a family is how you deal with your weakest link, whether that link is a behavior problem today, or some sort of a physical issue, or a mental disability, or an illness, you know like, at your house when somebody is sick at your house it doesn’t mean that you carry on as usual, you tend to the needs of the ones thats sick. And if someone has a learning issue, you tend to the needs of that learning issue.
So, as you’re dealing with “That” Child the rest of your kids are watching and they’re seeing how you deal with that kid, and it is ministering to them, you’re giving them an example of how to deal with their weakest link when they grow up and get married and it’s all about compassion and patience and love, and love, and love, and grace, and grace, and grace.
So the effect it’s having on your children is they’re getting to see God intercede in your family and in you, and do something amazing, as long as you keep pointing everyone to God. The effect on your other kids can be amazingly positive.
#8: You might have a “That” Child if you’ve cried yourself to sleep.
Night after night after night I remember my pillow being just soaking wet cause I just kept feeling like a failure. And you know what? My enemy wanted to keep me in the place where I felt like a failure, he wanted to keep me under condemnation for the days I lost it, for the days I did not allow the Holy Spirit to come and fill me with patience, for the days when I was frustrated and I let him know it, for the days that I didn’t handle it well in a God-honoring way, for the days, you know what, I didn’t wanna ask God, because I knew God was gonna ask me to be patient and I didn’t wanna be.
I would cry myself to sleep, and cry myself to sleep, and ask for forgiveness, and ask for a fresh new day, and you know what? God always gave it.
I wanna tell you, God, in our brokenness that is where He meets us. Over and over, and over in scripture it’s in our brokenness and our desperate need that He meets us, and He comes and does something glorious.
As long as we think we’ve got it, we don’t need Him. But when we know we don’t got it, that we need Him, that He is glorified and we get to grow in our dependency on Him.
#9: Yes, you Might have a “That” Child if you know they know all of your buttons, and they know how to push them all at the same time, regularly.
Yes, My “That” Child was able to find buttons that I did not know that I had, and he was able to consistently push all of them at the worst possible moment. Again, I really believe that the God of the universe, sovereign over all things, has blessed you with “That” Child. This is not a burden, it’s not payback, it’s not a curse, it’s a blessing that God has given you “That” Child To show you your need for God and the opportunity he’s granted you to grow this child into somebody that will glorify his name.
Pushing all your buttons is a blessing!
It’s a blessing to find weaknesses, and failures, and faults that you didn’t know you had, or in my case, I had covered up so well I had learned to ignore. I’m glad that I’ve had that child to point out the issues in myself that I really needed to work on. And that was again when God came and began to heal.
#10: You might have a “That” Child if discipline dominates every day.
Now, I used to have a thing with my “That” Child and when he would disobey during the day I would take away his favorite toy for that day. So let’s say that it was this little train, But, I wouldn’t just take it away from him and put it away, I would take it away and put it somewhere where he could see it and want it, but not be able to get it. And so my husband could walk in, and within five minutes of being in the door he could look at the mantle, and assess how the day had been.
I was looking for creative ways to get this child’s attention all the time. Whether it was putting him in time out, taking away things that he wanted, not allowing him to go and participate in things that he wanted to do, I had charts and graphs going, I was constantly trying to discipline him. Because with these kids what I know is they thrive in consistency but I fail at consistency.
So the discipline was not just disciplining him, but it was learning to discipline myself. The discipline of spending time with God every morning, of praying, of choosing to glorify and focus on God, even in the midst of a really lousy day, just going “Ok God, I’ve blown it. But I Praise you. Thank you for sending me this kid. I thank you, and I praise your holy name for the plan that you have, even though I don’t know what it is right now.”
That’s what it means, everyone of these issues gives us an opportunity to lean into God, or, we can choose to continue to lean into ourselves.
#11: You might have a “That” Child if giving up is really tempting.
I want to encourage you with every ounce of my being, don’t. give. up. Don’t give up on you and your ability to allow the Holy Spirit to work through you and to bless “That” Child, and don’t give up on “That” Child. Too many people already have.
When I started doing this presentation a couple of years ago, I actually called and talked to my “That” Child who is now a college graduate, married with my first grandchild, and pursuing a master’s degree. I called him and asked his permission to continue telling our story, and he said “You know what mom? Tell our story, and tell the moms this: don’t give up on us.”
That is the message from my “That” Child to you as the mom of “That” Child. Now, your “That” Child may not be able to say it to you right now, and it may seem like they’re screaming at you right now to give up on them. But I am begging you, don’t. give. up.
Determine that you are going to trust that God has a plan, and that God has in them a mighty warrior for His kingdom, that He’s given you an opportunity to raise for His glory, and yes, to grow through your junk.
God has a plan.
Remember this mamas: you might have a “That” Child if God has blessed you abundantly, and I pray that you will hug “That” Child, and you will seek God, and you will lean into Him.
In His Grace-
If you would like to read more of my “That Child” series, click here.