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Relational Grace – A Parent’s Journey

Have you ever tried to change someone else’s behavior? How has that worked out for you?

The truth is that we can’t force others to change the way they think and act. What we can change is the way we respond and how we choose to think and act in challenging relational situations. Through gentleness, love, and kindness, we can speak the truth and encourage others. Even with that, in the end, that individual still has their own free will to make their own decision.

This is a very difficult truth for people, especially in the framework of families. We have an expectation for how our spouse and children should behave and for the life choices they make. When they don’t do what we think they should do, there is a tendency to want to manipulate, threaten, protest, and criticize. All of which are not productive, helpful, or loving ways to respond.

As a parent of children who are minors, you of course have the authority, and it is your role and your responsibility to course correct, give consequences when rules are broken, and give instructions on what is right and wrong. But ultimately, even your children must choose whether to obey or not.

We all have such unique ways of thinking. Have you ever been in the exact same situation with someone and then listened to them retell what happened, and it was ENTIRELY different from your version of the story? I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that this has happened many times with me and my husband. It has completely baffled me over the years.

But I have come to realize that the two of us see things in such different ways. When my husband and I experience a situation, it is filtered through our very unique perspectives. Our own culture, life experience, and personality play a part in how we think and do things. It is very difficult to understand how someone thinks differently than the way we think.

From my perspective, there is one right way to think and one right way to do things, and that is obviously MY way! Right? LOL! All kidding aside, this difference of perspective becomes extra challenging when we find ourselves so easily seeing the speck in someone else’s eye while missing the fact that there is a plank in our own (Matthew 7:3).  This in itself causes a lot of relational strife.

Relationships and compromise are hard. Humbly owning your shortcomings is hard. And actually loving one another, as the Bible defines it, is a lot harder than it seems. It is much easier to point the finger at the other person than to do the hard work to look at yourself.

1 Corinthians 13:4–7 says, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

No matter what is happening around us or how others are acting, if we are followers of Jesus, we must press on, keep the faith, and stay strong in following what God calls us to do. Luke 21:19 tells us, “By standing firm, you will win your souls.” With this faithfulness to obedience, extraordinary things can happen.

We can break down barriers, remove strongholds, and even persuade those we are in relationship with to join us on higher ground. Matthew 5:16 instructs, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

Let’s allow our actions: our love, our patience, our kindness, and our self-control, be a great witness to who God is. May our lives shine bright in this dark world as we live out the love of Jesus.

Shine bright, dear brothers and sisters! May you experience the peace that transcends all understanding as you seek Him this week! God bless you!

Action steps to owning your own actions:

  1. Admit where you have missed the mark
    “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” James 5:16
  2. Confess to the Lord
    “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
  3. Repent your sin
    “Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away.” Acts 3:19
  4. Apologize to those you wronged
    “Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.” Ephesians 4:3
  5. Extend grace to others, as grace has been extended to you
    “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

Author

  • Sarah Stolyarenko

    Sarah has been walking with the Lord for almost 30 years. She came to know Jesus as her Lord and Savior at Saddleback Church in High School. She is passionate about fulfilling the purpose God has for her life. Sarah has worked with children and youth in some capacity for most of her life. She grew up babysitting for many families, and through the years has volunteered in the Children’s, Junior High, and High School Ministries. As a missionary in Ukraine, Sarah helped to lead a children’s ministry at a small church. When returning from the mission field, Sarah was called to a full-time staff position on the Children’s Ministry Team at Saddleback Church. That was followed by indirectly working with children while on staff at Jana Alayra Music. In most recent years, it has been the greatest joy and privilege of Sarah’s life to be on the mission field of momhood, as a full-time stay-at-home mom, supporting and serving her family. Sarah has been married to her husband Slavic for 22 years, and they live in Mission Viejo, CA with their two children, Baron and Sophia.

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