“We need to talk when we get home,” was all I could barely manage (at least all I could barely manage calmly) as the kids and I were getting back into the car after a very frustrating 45 minutes in a local department store.
All four kids were there, but one in particular—the one that’s on the cusp of the teenage years and that has pushed me more than ever lately—was the one with whom I needed to talk.
I was grateful for the 35 minute drive ahead of us because it allowed me time to stop, to think and to process. Why did this child persist in pushing me over and over around the same issues? I asked God. Doesn’t he see how loved and cared for he is? Haven’t I showed him more than enough unconditional love so as to enable him to trust me?
I didn’t have any magic answers as I drove up the driveway. I carefully untangled my sleeping toddler from his car seat and gently carried him upstairs to his bed. On my way up the stairs I mouthed again to my oldest child: “We still need to talk. Please meet me out front and bring your Bible.” He nodded, and I heard the front door open and close a few minutes later.
As I slowly eased my littlest one into his crib, my heart was repeating one silent prayer to God: Please, Lord, give me the words… and the patience. I don’t know what I’m going to say, but I am trusting you to provide.
I walked down the stairs and toward the kitchen to grab my Bible, still praying. Lord, please… I long to guide this child, and yet I’m so frustrated and hurt. Please… work through me to reach him.
I got an answer. It wasn’t an audible voice from heaven but it was instead a clear impression on my heart. I knew that voice well. “Bring him a cup of water with ice, just as he likes it,” it said.
I smiled and thought to myself, Yes, Lord, you do want us to come to these difficult discussions with an olive branch of peace and a humble heart.
I also laughed, because let me tell you, a cup of nasty, lukewarm lake water is what I really wanted to bring him.
My son was waiting outside, gazing at the horizon and listening to the glorious quiet as only the country provides. He’d had a chance to calm down too, but it was clear from his body language that unresolved tension still hid in his heart.
I walked up to him, ice water in hand, and simply said, “Thought you’d like something to drink.”
He looked up at me and softened slightly. “Thank you,” he said.
And then what happened next is nothing short of miraculous. We spent the next 45 minutes being real with each other—sharing emotions and the motivations behind our actions back at the store. That in itself was powerful .
But the miraculous was something that my God did while I was sitting there. He completely guided the conversation! In fact, He did so in such an incredible way that not only did we have a chance to air our grievances, we spoke about other recent issues that related to the topic and ended with an incredibly powerful prayer that moved us both to tears.
My son even left the conversation with a goal of going upstairs and spending time on his own reading some specific Scriptures now, and beginning a new habit of reading a specific set of Scriptures each morning (all on his own volition).
That conversation’s outcome, my friends, was not a result of any great knowledge or wisdom that I have.
It had not stemmed from any great parenting advice I’d received.
That entire conversation was simply a great and magnificent God demonstrating in this tiniest of ways that he cares and wants to be involved, if we are willing to let Him in.
I say that because I can confess with all of my heart that, when I sat down in that chair beside my son, I had no master plan of what to say or how to say it.
All I know is that while my son and I stared together at the familiar rolling green hills surrounding our home, God was sharing with me, step by step, how to guide the conversation. It wasn’t a word-for-word dictation or script, but simply a “do-this”-and-a-“now-do-this” kind of impression.
And so I did.
Not that I am a super-Christian. And not that I always hear this incredible instantaneous guiding by the Holy Spirit in these types of situations.
Truth be told, sometimes my heart is so wicked, self-focused and distracted by unimportant things that I can’t hear a word that God may be saying to me.
But nonetheless, in those moments when I come humbly and boldly asking (with a willing and open heart that’s ready to hear and obey whatever He says), I find that He more than does His part.
Through humble obedience and careful listening , I see him use me to move mountains and knock down the highest walls.
In short, He shows up.
When those moments happen (especially when they happen during the critical parenting conversations) it’s as if I feel the heavens vibrate with joy. I am reminded again of His great love for me and that He has not abandoned me in this often challenging world. He is here! And He loves me enough to help me through these very real, very painful person-to-person conflicts.
I also find myself grateful that God saves me from myself. Because I can guarantee you that I would have completely botched that conversation with my son (and so many others) if I had just waltzed in there and said what I thought was “best” in light of the situation.
In today’s circumstance, I would have probably given him a severe tongue lashing (even throwing in a few Bible verses for emphasis) right before I’d given him a harsh consequence.
Now are those things warranted? Sometimes, yes! But I knew they weren’t the solution to today’s issue. If I’d dealt with the situation in this manner, I knew in the deepest part of my heart that I would be simply laying down more “law” instead of spreading more love. I knew I’d be building the walls between us instead of knocking them down.
My solution was the easier, more comfortable path—the one that would have allowed me to quickly deal with the problem and gotten me on to more “important” things in my day. (I mean, let’s be real here—there are times when we want the quick and easy fix because we just have so much to do and we don’t want to be inconvenienced.)
But I’m grateful that this moment was different. I’m grateful for the 35 minute drive home so that God could prepare my heart to be “inconvenienced.” He knew that the conversation and resulting discipline that I’d dreamed up weren’t the proper medicine for the wound between my son and I. And He cared enough to help me silence my heart so that I could actually be His servant and hear Him speak.
He knew just how to handle the situation. He was just waiting for me to welcome Him in, and to watch Him work.
Have you ever experienced that unexplainable, moment-by-moment guidance that has turned a situation from awful to extraordinary? How have you witnessed the need for God in these critical conversations?