We have been doing some very hard work this summer. The attachment, bonding, trusting, failing and trying again kind of work. We have been learning about the core foundations of a relationship.
These little ones have come to us with so many gifts, and yet their basic understanding of how relationships work was completely lacking. They desire to have a close trusting relationship with all of us, but have no idea how to achieve it.
In the process of helping and teaching them, I have been taken aback at how basic the foundations of a relationship are.
Honesty: Without this in a relationship, there is no trust. Lying has been a huge issue with our little ones. I remember saying that it was as easy as breathing with one of them. That is not a way that anyone would want to describe one of their children. But I am not blaming this little one who has not been taught about the pitfalls of dishonesty. This has been a long hard process that we are still in the middle of.
After months of working through this they are both acting with the understanding that dishonesty damages a relationship and being truthful honors God. They pray each night that God would help them to tell the truth so that Mommy and Daddy can trust them. They are each seeing little victories each day and we rejoice with them.
The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in men (and children) who are truthful.
Seeking Forgiveness: We all sin. We all lie or disobey or offend another person. Without seeking forgiveness the relationship is broken.
1 John 1:8-10
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.
This has been a big area to tackle with our little ones. It began with explaining what sin is and how it hurts the person and the relationship with the person they have offended. At the beginning we taught them how to seek forgiveness. " I am sorry for _____. Will you please forgive me?" They learned how to do this. We also taught them to seek God's forgiveness.
Stand-up Dad and I believe, with children, that actions precede belief. This has been true with our little ones. As they began to seek forgiveness it was very apparent that they were not sorry for their sin. They were completing the act, but their beliefs had not yet lined up with that act.
How do you teach someone to feel sorry? You can't. We continued to pray that God would soften their hearts and they would begin to feel some hurt in their heart for their sin.
God has continued to be faithful and both Sunshine and Little Buddy are beginning to understand what seeking true forgiveness looks like. There is no longer the hardness in their eyes when they are caught in their sin.
Yesterday I was talking with Sunshine about some disobedience. She tearfully asked for forgiveness and I gave my forgiveness and held her on my lap. I shared with her how proud I was of her. Just a few weeks ago, if she were given a consequence, she would have expressed anger toward me which would usually lead to more disobedience. Yesterday we were able to seek forgiveness and completely restore our relationship within a few minutes. These changes are huge.
Characterization: What are you characterized by? How are you seen by others? Are you kind? Do you encourage others? Are you willing to humble yourself?
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
In our home we value Christian character. This is something that we teach daily through scripture reading, specific instruction and by example. I fail many times in the area of being an example and am quick to humble myself and ask forgiveness. This was not modeled for me growing up and I know that it had an affect on those relationships.
It has been fun to teach our new ones what God thinks about obedience. Our family paraphrase: "Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. And things will go well with you and you will have a good life." They often say that they want to obey so that they can have a good life.
The latest discovery, in regards to relationships, has been that Mommy and Daddy don't like giving consequences. They thought that we enjoyed giving consequences. I was able to explain to them that Daddy and I are required by God to teach them right from wrong, and to give consequences. If we do not teach them these things, we would be disobeying God. This was quite a surprise to them both. Such simple concepts give them peace in their hearts. After that understanding they have not pushed as hard against consequences, since they know that I am trying to obey God too.
Thank you again for your prayers for our family! I covet them. God is surely weaving a masterpiece in our home and we are so thankful!