Life is weird right now, isn’t it?! Many of our routines have been upended and we are being forced to adapt to new habits. And just as we are suddenly spending less time with certain people, we are forced to spend more time with others! But this sudden quantity of time doesn’t necessarily mean quality.
If you are good at reading between the lines, then you probably already know where I’m going with all of this: our kids are driving us nuts! The social buffers that are normally in place aren’t there to give us a break anymore. School, playdates, birthday parties, and even the hour and a half they can spend in Sunday School—gone! All of this time together creates an atmosphere where annoying habits or personality quirks become more and more grating.
We are left with some choices: slowly (quickly!) go insane, become angry and bitter, or change our perspective through prayer.
Many years ago I had a revelation—all of our personality or character traits can be positive or negative depending on the context. Helpful or annoying. Godly or ungodly. And often our traits that get us into the most trouble are also the ones that can be harnessed for the most good. God, in His infinite wisdom, has created us each uniquely and with purpose. And the enemy, in his desire to sabotage the will of God, wants to pervert our strengths and use them against us.
Children are immature. Adults are immature in certain areas. So of course we will not be consistently using our strengths in a positive way—we are developing and learning to tame them!
It is so easy to forget this when we feel drained and annoyed. However, if we can begin to shift our response to include praise, then we can find freedom from that annoyance. Or at least the patience to endure the situation longer. Our perspective changes when we thank God for these things that are annoying us! And then we learn to ask Him to bless those very characteristics!
Let me show you what I mean…
- When my child is being stubborn I can thank God that He created them with tenacity and the ability to stand firm! Then I can pray that God blesses this stubbornness and helps my child mature into a person of conviction and faithfulness—stubbornly clinging to truth no matter the obstacles they encounter.
- When my child is being reckless I can thank God for the courage He gave them! Then I can pray that God blesses this courage and transforms it into boldness for pursuing righteousness in the face of adversity.
- When my child is whining I can thank God that He gave them an assertive nature to address what is wrong! Then I can pray that He allows them to develop selflessness so that they are concerned with addressing the needs of others instead of only their own.
- When my child is clinging to me I can thank God that He has given them the potential for the wisdom of helplessness (without God we have nothing)! Then I can pray that as my child matures they will recognize more and more their need for God and be able to cling to Him daily.
- When my child talks incessantly I can thank God that they have the ability to vocalize their thoughts. Then I can pray that God works to give them His words so that they can confidently speak with wisdom to bless others.
- When my child is argumentative I can thank God that they have the innate desire to be right. Then I can pray that God shows them how to pursue His truthfulness and argue against falsehoods.
- When my child is picking fights I can thank God that they have the heart of a warrior. Then I can pray that God teaches my child how to wisely choose battles and fight alongside Jesus.
- When my child is being lazy I can thank God that they know how to rest and wait. Then I can pray that He gives them discernment to know when to work and when to wait on the Lord.
- When my child is short-tempered I can thank God for their passionate nature. Then I can pray that God gives them the passion to learn His ways and have a righteous anger towards sin.
- When my child asks a million questions I can thank God for their thirst for knowledge. Then I can pray that God inspires them to tirelessly look for answers in the Bible and through prayer.
The list could go on and on, but the principle remains the same: these annoying behaviors or personality traits can be used for good in the right context. When I take a moment to thank God for the behavior and traits—even when the context is wrong—then I begin to develop a deeper appreciation for how that person was created. I begin to see potential and purpose instead of just annoyance and frustration. Suddenly, the situation isn’t even about me anymore and my personal feelings about the matter become trivial. This leads to more patience and insight on how to respond in a way that will help the person mature instead of regress.
How about you? Are you stuck at home with someone who is driving you crazy? It doesn’t have to be a child! Take a moment to pinpoint the behaviors and characteristics bothering you the most. In what context can those be used for good? Allow this new perspective shape the way you pray for that person. And thank God for the privilege to be a part of their story!
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”