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Heart Connection or Time Distraction?

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. – Ephesians 5:15-17 (ESV)

The familiar frustration crept in as I looked at my calendar. Every day was packed full of activities and appointments. I don’t have enough time to get it all in! I hate the feeling of waking up, barreling through the day and all the activities, and then falling into bed, exhausted and overwhelmed, feeling like I didn’t really connect with my children or husband all day. Yes, I was with my children all day, but did I have heart connection with them?

I voiced this complaint (especially about not connecting to my children) to a friend and her response was this: “Maybe you should ask God to show you where to cut things out of your schedule. He gives us enough to time to do the things that He wants us to do (like showing love and affection to our children), with enough rest included.”

Ouch. I know it is God’s will to have heart connection with my children.

What really bothers me is that lately, I have felt irritated when my kids ask me to stop and listen or hold them because I think I’m too busy. I usually do what they are asking, but I’m annoyed and in a hurry while doing it. Big red flag to me! How does my heart get so off track? Does anyone else struggle here?

I’ve been reading a book recently (for the second time) that has been so helpful to me. No coincidence I’m sure that I read the section this week talking about ways to connect with your children and show them affection. The book is called “Gospel-Powered Parenting,” by William P. Farley. It is one of the most challenging books I have ever read. It steps on my toes and challenges me to love my children as God does:

“…sometimes it is hard to feel affection for our children. Some are easy to like. Others are more difficult. Both are God’s gift to us. Parental affection is very powerful. It makes the parent, and the parent’s God, attractive. It communicates love and acceptance. We might tell our children that we love them, but affection convinces them. It is the bridge over which love passes to our children. Affection is the hammer that drives the nail of truth deep into their hearts. It would be hard to overstate the importance of affection.”(1)

The author goes on to talk about four ways to show affection to our children, ways to really stop and love them and connect with their hearts…(2,3)

Focused attention: time alone with your child, without competing distractions. Each week it is a different child’s turn. It is scheduled time that goes on the calendar and the child chooses where they want to go and what they want to do.

Eye contact: look your child in the eye, and listen. Undivided attention. If you can’t listen at the time, you make an appointment with them for later in the day when you can give your full attention. When you fail, ask your child for forgiveness and try again. Thank God for His grace and mercy toward us.

Appropriate physical touch: our children should feel completely secure in our arms. We need to communicate physical affection and never stop, especially as they get older.

Verbal encouragement: we should always be looking for ways to encourage and affirm our children. It’s easy to point out their faults, but the emphasis should be on affirming them. One huge way is to verbally point out the areas in our children’s lives where God is working.

I love these tips. So hard to do, but so important. And again I am struck by the importance of how we choose to spend our time. I cannot do the things listed above if my schedule is so full of activity that I can’t stop when one of my children needs me. I must choose to love my family sacrificially.

I came across this verse this week…

For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it. – Luke 14:28 (ESV)

Do I not want to complete the truths I’m trying so hard to cultivate in my children? Isn’t the goal to show them Jesus’ love so they will pass it on to others? Have I counted the cost? Am I willing to do what it takes (and give up what it takes) with God’s help? Where do I need to reorganize my time?

“Love matters. Before we can love our children, we must love God more. That is because love for God defines how we love our children. Once we settle this issue, we are equipped to love our children sacrificially. The cross calls this love out.”(4)

I am so thankful for how God loves me and challenges me just when I need it. Time is a gift and how I choose to spend it is something I need to really look closely at and ask God about. How will we spend our time each day? Are we really available (and fully present) when our children need us to be?

Lord, forgive us. We want to answer the question above with a big “yes!” Show us your will and show us where to cut things out, so that we are fully available to love the way you want us to, and the way our children need us to. Amen.

 

Sources:
(1) Farley, Gospel-Powered Parenting; William, P. Farley (Phillipsburg, NJ, P&R Publishing Company, 2009).
(2) Campbell, How to Really Love Your Child; Ross Campbell, How to Really Love Your Teenager (Wheaton, IL: Victor, 1985).
(3) Farley, Gospel-Powered Parenting; William, P. Farley (Phillipsburg, NJ, P&R Publishing Company, 2009), pg. 209-214.
(4) Farley, Gospel-Powered Parenting; William, P. Farley (Phillipsburg, NJ, P&R Publishing Company, 2009).

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If you are an imperfect wife, mom, daughter, or friend, struggling to stay focused on God in the craziness and find joy in the heartache, then we have something in common. I am a recovering perfectionist and daughter of the King, slowly learning to fully trust the One who sees me just as I am, and is already pleased. I’m so glad you are here.

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