Thursday, August 29, 2013
HELP ME, I’M FRUSTRATED
Checking in with Secrets of the Vine, by Bruce Wilkinson this morning, I found myself flying off into familiar, yet unfamiliar territory. In discussing the Vinedresser from John 15, he is pointing out some fine points of loving discipline. Most of us really do not understand the whys and hows and whens of discipline. We usually have to come out the other side before we realize what God has actually done for us, even if we suspect it all along.
In reading this, I jumped off a cliff running with a point of discipline that has me frustrated in trying to express it to others. Mostly it is because I never had children. But I was a child and I remember very well how frustrated I was as a kid: I needed everything to go my way, not because I had to be important, but because anything that did not go my way frightened me terribly and my reaction was always screaming and crying. In other words, I was a screamer… the kind who embarrassed myself and my mother half to death.
My frustration now is wondering how to tell mothers that not all screaming is “evil personified,” and there is a way to help screamers by redirecting them from their frustration. Something went wrong with their undeclared plans for their day and the world has literally crashed in upon them. They need to be removed from the crash zone and given a way to deflate.
Once believers understand God’s motive in discipline, an astonishing truth dawns: The discipline doesn’t have to continue! It’s all up to me. I will only experience pain as long as I hang on to my sin.
What a beautiful way to think of the discipline we use for children. Discipline does not always have to be a negative. The purpose of discipline is to learn how to control ourselves so, simply helping the child learn to “control” the outbursts is a very plausible goal.
I was visiting in a home once and the children where vying for my attention to the point that the mother actually has to send one child to her room to cool off. She told me that she and her husband really were frustrated at that kind of behavior because they, themselves never reacted that way and could not figure out what was happening. I told her, “She is me.” She could not have been a better example of me than if she were my own child. I made some effort to explain passion and what it can do to a child with no outlets for that passion, but I am not sure what I said was understood.
You may have noticed that when I write or speak I seldom have apologies on hand about what I believe and how I put it together. When I write or speak I am very passionate about what I am saying, so I simply say it as though it is undeniably true. What you may not understand is that I would love to have the conversation continue, but my “tone” often sounds as if you had better not disagree. I am sorry for that, because I still want to hear what you have to say.
Today, I am thinking of positive discipline and this comes to mind: Send her to her room for 5 minutes and have her look up a favorite Bible verse and be prepared to read it or speak it when she comes back. She is removed from the crash zone; she is given a task to do (and she was old enough to do this task). Then, hopefully, when she returns she will be calmed down.
Some of this idea comes to me from when I worked with mentally challenged children and was instructed thus: With some of these children you can never say “do not” or “stop” doing what ever they are doing because it will only make them have to do it all the more. We were told, “Redirect their thinking;” as in, do this… instead of do not do that.
But the image that first came to my mind is a precious little one who screams and screams over everything, suddenly and without warning. This young one likes to run, so my imagination took me to this possibility: take her outside and direct her to run around the cul-de-sac with this instruction: I am going to walk around here one time and you need to run around and catch up with me as many times as you can before I get back to the door. Now that is redirection based on the need for discipline that will help her learn how to handle her frustrations. I laughed out loud at the thought. But I wish I had been redirected that way. Maybe I would have grown up to be a runner. :)
And then I thought about making a defined track in the backyard so that any child could run out frustrations when needed. Many homes have a basketball hoop that serves that very purpose without even planning it that way. But not all children can play basketball. Many children, though, can run. Perhaps forgetting House and Garden for a moment, young children could be more encouraged to play outdoors if there was room to run with purpose. We had lots of room to run, back “in the day.” But I never picked up on running or anything else as a way to control myself or work out my frustrations. It was never pointed out to me as a tool, and I missed it all in the fear of being and looking foolish; my greatest fear.
Perhaps we could all take another look at our reactions to frustration and may we all seek sensitivity to frustration and seek ways to help with positive discipline, whether for ourselves or for others. My positive self discipline is writing it down. There are many, many “blog” pages that I have written but never published which have calmed down the frustrations and helped me move forward. For many this is simply called “journaling.” And I highly recommend that, especially for the non-athlete. :)
May God bless you today as you walk with Him seeking to be a blessing to someone as you go.