Parenting God’s Way – By Seth Dahl

“There are far too many parents who live with the philosophy of “Follow what I say, not what I do,” and we all know this doesn’t work well. It kills trust in our children. They see us talk one way but live another. I heard someone say one time, ‘Children are really bad at doing what we tell them, but really great at doing what we show them’. “

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My daughter wanted her jacket out of the closet to go out in the cold and play. After several unsuccessful attempts to reach it, she decided to ask me for help. But like many three-year-olds, the way she asked me was more of a yell than an ask.

After several seconds of her yelling, I walked toward her with the intention of telling her to not speak to me that way. As I approached, a thought interrupted me, “How would you ask if you knew I would say yes?”

Because of that thought, I knelt down in front of her and asked her that very question. She looked up for a moment as she thought about it, then replied, “Please?”

I grabbed her her jacket, put it on her, then threw mine on so I could join her outside. We had such a great time playing that day. As we were playing, I thought about what just took place. God just parented me so that I could parent my daughter like He would.

From that time on, I’ve trusted Him to step in at those moments in order for me to become the parent He’s designed me to be.

There are far too many parents who live with the philosophy of “Follow what I say, not what I do,” and we all know this doesn’t work well. It kills trust in our children. They see us talk one way but live another. I heard someone say one time, “Children are really bad at doing what we tell them, but really great at doing what we show them”.

We must realize that all of us are continually teaching our children whether we are using words or not. And one of the greatest things we teach them is who God is like.

I have several friends who are counselors, who spend most of their time with clients talking through things that happened when they were a child.

As a children’s pastor and parent, one of the burning desires of my heart is to see a generation of children grow up who don’t need a lifetime of counseling from what their families have done to them. I believe the story I told at the beginning of this post is one of the keys to seeing this.

God wants to help us parent.

God wants us to parent our children like He parents us. We’ve all had dysfunctions in our families growing up, but we don’t have to perpetuate them with our kids. We don’t have to allow our past to become our present. We have a Father who is more than willing to help us.

When God asked me that question, He didn’t just change that one interaction with my daughter, He changed my entire relationship with Him. Now I ask myself, “How would I pray if I knew God’s answer would be yes?”

For all the parents reading this, I’d ask you to ask yourself the same question. All His promises are yes and amen in Christ. This question will bring so much trust into your relationship with God, it can’t help but bear fruit as a relationship full of trust with your own children.

So, how would you pray if you knew He would say yes?

If you would like to hear more from Seth, check out his website at sethdahl.com and his podcast on iTunes – The Disconnected Dad, https://itun.es/us/bRYigb.c.
You can also look him up on Facebook and Instagram.

Too Many Voices in My Head.

We can start to recognize the voices that Shame and Guilt have, but we can’t move forward in life if we still listen to them. The negative thoughts that are in our lives actually keep us from enjoying life to the fullest.

Shame and Guilt, they have a lot to say in our world today. They act like they control the whole of humanity and some would say they really do… but I would like to change that in this post.

How do we start to recognize the voices of Shame and Guilt and get rid of the input that they have in our lives?

Great Question!
1. Shame and Guilt Says “I Am Something Wrong.”
We all know that we can do something wrong, but when we listen to Shame and Guilt, we start to believe that we are the thing that is wrong. If we can recognize this in the way that we think about ourselves, than we can start getting rid of the false voices that say otherwise.
Often times Shame and Guilt are very sneaky when they speak and it’s almost always through our thoughts toward ourselves. It’s so subtle that we miss it a lot. We can’t allow them to have a say in our thinking, our life, or our identity. What we believe about ourselves comes straight from our thought life. A few great questions to ask ourselves and identify if Shame and Guilt have control in our lives are: Who do I believe I am? Who do I think I am? What do I do to/for myself that tells me more about myself? How we answer these is a sign if we are living with Guilt and Shame.

Guilt and Shame have a false sense of control and power, and we let them have it. They talk us into actually feeling like the problem is always us, as if we have control over people’s emotions and made them feel a certain way.
The voice of Shame and Guilt sound like they are legitimate, but they’re the illegitimate sons of an illegitimate man.

I believe that when we listen to what Shame and Guilt have to say, we start acting out of impulse and fear of how we’ll affect the people around us instead of how we are living our personal lives.
2. We Are Not What We Eat.
Obviously this point isn’t about eating, it’s about the thoughts that we “feed” ourselves.
To further hit a point that I made in the beginning – we do things that can affect people in the wrong way, but those times don’t dictate who we are. Often times as a society we mistake someone’s actions for their character. We often forget that forgiveness is not a one time deal, but it’s a never-ending posture that sees the person instead of the mistake. Some of you reading this probably need to look past your own mistakes and look at who you really are and forgive yourself.

How we digest our thoughts will speak through our actions. I have a choice everyday, whether or not I’m going to eat the thoughts from Shame and Guilt, or if I’m going to spit them out. Once I spit them out, I lift a weight off of my shoulders that I was never meant to carry.
3. “We Can Fly, We Can Fly, We Can Fly!”
What caused Wendy, James and John the ability to fly to Neverland?
It wasn’t just “Faith, trust and Pixie dust.” They had to think happy thoughts! If we have happy thoughts about ourselves, we’ll start to go places that we never thought were possible. All we need to do is change the way we think about ourselves. It’s really that simple.

Say what you want about Peter Pan, but he always found a way to enjoy his life, have fun, and think highly of himself.
What are you going to do that causes you to change your thoughts into happy thoughts and causes you to soar like never before?
We can start to recognize the voices that Shame and Guilt have, but we can’t move forward in life if we still listen to them. The negative thoughts that are in our lives actually keep us from enjoying life to the fullest.
4. Shame and Guilt causes us to doubt who we are.
Doubt Keeps Us From Our Destiny. To stick with the Peter Pan analogy, The time when Peter almost lost the battle against Captain Hook, was when he started to doubt himself and his ability to fulfill his destiny.
Just watch that part of the movie (the original animated Disney film) to see and know the thought process that Peter is having in that instant. Replay the moment with me – Tink is almost dead, Wendy, James, and John are captured with the Lost Boys on the Jolly Roger, and nobody can save them but Peter Pan… While all of that is going on, he starts to really question if he’s really a hero or not and if the battle is lost. Notice the progression from that process, to the huge turnaround that happens in a matter of minutes! Though all of this is verbal in the moment (for theatrical enjoyment) his voice, mood, and behavior all change the moment he changed the way he thought about himself and the situation he was in.

Our greatest triumphs are on the other side of our greatest doubts.
Shame and Guilt speak doubt into our minds that causes us to lose sight of our destiny. They often use our failures as their greatest weapon against our destiny. Peter Pan almost let his failure of letting Wendy and friends getting captured, turn into the ultimate failure of not being the person he really is. When doubts come into our mind, they always question who we are and who we are meant to be. When we listen to those doubts and lose sight of ourselves, we let a minor failure turn into a big failure.

And this leads me to my last point.

5. There IS Hope.
Some of our biggest failures can be the beginning of our greatest successes.
Don’t just stop at your failures, make them learning moments.
When we learn from our mistakes and decide not to listen to the doubts that Shame and Guilt cause, we create something that is super special – Second Chances. There’s always a second chance at the end of what we do letting our thought life, words and actions be filled with hope. This process of finding the voices that have power in our life and which ones to get rid of is a lengthy process, but its worth it. You have to give yourself time to work through everything that comes up when you start this journey. Stay hope-full and you’ll go far in life.

Remember, when it comes to Guilt and Shame:
You are not your actions. Your destiny is on the other side of your doubts. Think happy thoughts. Believe the best in yourself. ALWAYS stay hopeful.

Family With You. Family Around You

There’s so much that can be solved when we just use love on a daily basis. I firmly believe that there is nothing love can’t fix in our daily lives. And when Family meets Love, there is nothing that can come against the power that they hold when they are together. Bottom line is, as family, you want to thrive with connection and love, not just make ends meet with a Facebook-type connection where you only see small amounts of a life you’re not even connected too. My last point of the Step Three is this – A family will thrive with love inside of it. But without love, it will not stand the test of time.

 

Creating Family.

I know when you read the title, you were probably thinking of marriage, sex, and giving birth to a baby. Now, there’s a couple ways I could go with this, and none of them would be helpful to a rabbit in spring. (If you get what I mean.) The direction I want to take this though, is practical ways to start creating family around you, with you, and for you.

Let’s start with treating people like family.
Friends, associates, neighbors, children’s friends, in-laws, you name it. How we treat people will be a deciding factor in how we create family.

Let me tell you about my friend John.
John knew how to connect to multiple people and make them feel like they were more than just people or friends meeting to hangout. He would have them feeling like they were family meeting together to be a part of a bigger picture, while talking about life and how they could reach their daily goals. He wouldn’t mind discussing the big “family issues” that mattered to anyone around him. John even helped them see that family is able to give some of the biggest sacrifices from love toward one another for them.
You just have to read John’s letters to really see the sense of family he carried with him everywhere he went. His want for family is still written in emails every once and a while, but his heart will always be to connect with people of different cultures, of different minds, of different ethnicity, and of different lands.
See, when we choose to connect, we open up different entry ways to people’s hearts and start building the bridge to family.

The “family bridge” as I’ll call it, can take a long time to build. When we were born into a family, we didn’t have to put effort into creating a family dynamic. But when it comes to creating that atmosphere around us when we’re not connected to our blood family, we’ve got to put in effort to get that same dynamic. Everything that is worth building takes time. The Golden Gate bridges took 4 years to build. That’s 1,460 days, 48 months, and 208 weeks. And yes, I did the math.

At the end of the day, family takes effort. No matter who is trying to create a family environment; it takes time, sweat, pain, energy, and commitment. Some people are great at joining a family connection with you or other people, but some aren’t as great; and that’s ok, those people are just as valuable as the others. You just have to find the people that want to create family and put in the time with you.

So now, let’s go after practical ways to actually create family.
First Step – Pursue relationships with people.
This is probably the most important step honestly. See, we can’t just waltz our way into creating family and say “here I am. Come to me!”. We have to really go after it. Inviting people into your life, having game nights, having breakfast, lunch, or dinner with them, maybe going out for a coffee every once and a while, I don’t know! But always stay in constant pursuit of the people you want to have as family.

Step Two – Be vulnerable.
I have a lot I could say about this point, but I’ll save most of it for another post.
What I will say though, is that vulnerability isn’t about being honest. It’s about being open. When we open up to our actual family, as well as our extended family that we start to create, we bring them into a new dimension of the relationship we have with them. I’m pretty sure that if people would be more open with each other, we wouldn’t have a lot of room to be misunderstood. We see the opposite of this in celebrities lives.
They are some of the most misunderstood people in the world. This is mainly on our part though, as people we look in from the other side of the one way glass window.

One of the ways we can keep from that happening in our lives though is through vulnerability. Being willing to be open when people ask. The whole point of vulnerability is to bring forth connection. Vulnerability means that you have courage – The root of the word courage is cor – the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant “To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.” – This is vulnerability at it’s finest. This brings families closer.

Step Three – Do everything with love towards each other.
There can’t be family without love.
One of the best ways to change a sphere of influence is through a loving family and community. One of the many ways they can experience something like this is by how you treat people in your everyday life. Let’s be real, most people haven’t felt legitimately loved before. Either by family or friends. That’s not a good thing, and we need to change that. Imagine, once we start treating everyone with love like family would, the things that can come out of that. We would have healthier communities, better workers, honesty, crime would go down, and there would be peace for everyone to enjoy.

There’s so much that can be solved when we just use love on a daily basis. I firmly believe that there is nothing love can’t fix in our daily lives. And when Family meets Love, there is nothing that can come against the power that they hold when they are together. Bottom line is, as family, you want to thrive with connection and love, not just make ends meet with a Facebook-type connection where you only see small amounts of a life you’re not even connected too. My last point of the Step Three is this – A family will thrive with love inside of it. But without love, it will not stand the test of time.

Ending with this, whoever wants to create a family environment must realize that you hold a lot of power. And as Stan Lee famously says in his Spider-Man comics, “With great power, comes great responsibility.”
We hold many responsibilities when we start building family. We make sure that we have an environment that makes people feel safe enough to speak their mind by telling you their heart. We have to make sure that love is always in our “house”, and that we pursue the relationships that we want in our lives; while also encouraging that they pursue us as well.

I encourage you to talk to people about what this would actually look like for you, as well as them, and to start building a family under the roof you’re starting to build.