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Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Message from Dr. Phil

A few weeks ago, I happen to catch the end of an episode of Dr. Phil. I don't normally watch the show, but for some reason I sat down and began to listen to the exchange between a frustrated father and his "out-of-control" daughter. At the end of the discussion, Dr. Phil said to the father, "When it comes to being a father, you're doing a great job. But right now she doesn't need a father. She needs her daddy." The daughter just nodded, tears streaming down her face. She knew she was making poor choices and was headed in the wrong direction. But she didn't need another "I told you so!" She needed the unconditional love of her parent. The statement was so powerful to me. It's been on my mind ever since, probably because this is an area of my own life where I really struggle...knowing when to be a consistent, stick-to-the-rules, there-is-a-consequence-for-your-actions "mother" and when I need to exercise mercy and grace and be "mommy". It's such a fine line.

As I meditated on this, I was reminded of how our Heavenly Father "parents" his children. He is our Abba Father, our Daddy!! He is mercy and love. He is always ready to meet us right where we are, in the circumstances and messes of our own making. He extends his grace and mercy, in love. Regardless, if consequences need to be enforced or if a loving embrace is enough, both need to be done out of unconditional love-not frustration, not judgement, not anger.  Sounds so easy (especially since we do love our children unconditionally). So why is it so hard?

The father on Dr. Phil had been doing a great job of being aware of his daughter's actions and applying consequences to them. And although he loved his daughter deeply, her decisions were causing him so much pain. He had allowed that pain to transfer into anger and frustration. In fact, he admitted he could not remember the last time he told her, "I love you."; but she did. It had been over 6 months! Imagine going 6 months not being hugged, not being told your loved, not feeling valued!! It humbles me to think that this is truly what I deserve as a sinful human being. Yet, because of his great love and mercy for me (and you), God never withholds his love from us! No matter what we've done or how far we've strayed, he is always there, arms outstretched, waiting to love on us!!

The question still begs an answer, "When do I enforce punishment and when do I just wrap my arms around my child and not say a word?" Well, I'm sorry to say, I don't have that answer. (Trust me, I wish I did!). What I do know is that we have the best example of parenting when we look to our Heavenly Father. If we follow His truths and ask Him daily for wisdom and guidance, He promises to give it to us freely (James 5:1).

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