“For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7b)
This verse keeps coming to mind as the Lord gently reminds me of my need for a change of perspective. Part of renewing our minds is to see things how God sees them, instead of from the world’s point of view.
In striving to raise my daughters in the ways of the Lord, I have recently been convicted of looking too much at outward behaviour, and not at the heart. I have realized that focusing on changing my daughter’s external behaviour without addressing what is going on in her heart is not going to bring about lasting results. It is a challenge to look at the heart and the inward motivations rather than what is obviously displaying on the outside, but it is definitely worth it.
This is the way God works with us, to change the things in our lives that are not pleasing to him. He doesn’t force us to change our behaviour. Even when we try in our own strength to change the way we do things or think about things, we can’t sustain it for very long. But when we allow the Holy Spirit to speak into our hearts, and His word brings change, then we can’t help but be different. Suddenly things we were struggling with before become somehow effortless – love, joy, forgiveness.. These are fruit in our lives that can only come from the work of the Spirit in our hearts.
As I have been learning from God about how He parents us, I have seen that this is the way He wants me to work with my own children. While it is my prayer that they will allow His Holy Spirit to teach them and speak into their lives, I want to show them the same example. I want to show that I see them, that I can understand what they might be feeling. That I know what it is to be tempted, that I know what it is to mourn, that I know what it is to be excited.
I am learning to look beyond the immediate behaviour and am trying to see what my children might be feeling or dealing with at the time. When I do this, I can change the way I discipline and bring correction. I can use opportunities to discipline as times to build up and encourage my children’s hearts, while gently guiding them in the ways they should go.
I believe that this will give them a better understanding of who God is, and set them an example as I follow the example Jesus set for us. And it had to start with a change in my heart. I tried to parent differently, knowing theoretically that I needed to be showing empathy, but it didn’t work. Only when I was able to let the Lord work in my heart was I able to really change from the inside out. And I am still a work in progress, as are my children. And I trust that as I continue to let the Lord lead me, He will keep showing me the change of perspective that I need.