Watch your mouth. You’ve often heard it from a mother whose kid has just said a naughty word. Or from someone becoming aggressive. The phrase has aggressive overtones and it makes me think about the way we view aggression. A lot of the time in Western society we tend to avoid it, assuming that it’s bad, and it often is. But maybe not in every situation.
Before you start thinking that I’m a hostile person who just likes to go round whacking people for fun, I’ll explain.
There are times when most people would agree that some aggression is necessary. An armed robber breaks into your house while your family’s asleep. Should you get the cricket bat? Well, you don’t want to be mean. You want to be thought of as a nice person. Maybe the nice thing to do would be to just do nothing. If any men are reading, who of you would be okay with this non-reaction? It’s your family at stake, for goodness sake.
It seems obvious in a black and white scenario like this but in our lives we allow insidious things right into our homes. Through the front door, the iPad, the TV. Come on in, we say. We’re a nice family and we won’t kick you out.
When it comes to our children’s identity, self-esteem and freedom from fear, we simply allow it to be attacked, stolen or distorted.
Jesus says in John 10:10 says that this is what Satan seeks to do—steal, kill and destroy, but He has come so that we might have life, and have it abundantly.
Life. Say it a couple of times in your head. A powerful word.
Late at night, in the life you imagine for yourself, is your family crippled by insecurity, wandering around with no sense of identity and purpose? No. And that’s not the life Jesus has in mind for you either.
By doing nothing, what is our response to things seeking to destroy us? Come at my child in any way you like; I’m not going to stop you.
When our children are told by an ad on TV or a page of a glossy magazine, “If only you were a little skinnier, you would be happy. Buy this one great product (twice a month for the next 10 years) and you’ll be the weight you desire,” what does that tell them. You are not enough.
What message do we send when we buy that product?
The problem with this is that we develop this addiction to ‘self-improvement’, chasing this ideal that doesn’t exist (hello, the models in the ad are photo shopped), and we are never satisfied, our progress is never enough. We strive and in doing so teach others to strive, which is a distortion of the way life was meant to be lived. We are trying to get our fulfilment from the way we look, what people think of us, our achievements . . . basically anything other than Jesus.
When our friends come into our homes with negative words or influences, what do we do about it? Asking them to stop doesn’t seem nice.
It’s more obvious when children are young, but what about your teenagers? Probably at the most vulnerable age and they learn to hide their pain down deep. And that is a dangerous thing. Instead of just sniffing the poison of the world’s message, or rubbing a little on their skin, which can cause temporary damage, they ingest it into the deepest parts of themselves. I know this sounds morbid, but I wouldn’t be saying it if it wasn’t happening. A slow and painful poisoning of the soul.
We need to deal aggressively with these little foxes, little tumours, little bits of soul cancer that seek a way to burrow into our family’s minds and hearts, causing untold damage if left to fester and grow. These different poisons when reaching maturity grow into things like depression, eating disorders, anxiety.
How can we defend our families from these things?
1) Our words
Avoid saying negative things to your kids, especially your daughters, about their bodies. What does God say about them? That their bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19), that they are fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps 139:14), that they are beautiful beyond words (Song of Songs 4:1).
Speak positively to them, as well as about yourself and your spouse. Also, don’t speak negatively about others in front of them, because you’re teaching them to do the same. Develop a culture of encouragement in your household, and watch the fruit unfold for years to come.
2) Followed by our actions
Practice what you preach.
This week at youth group I shared an example with my kids saying if I tell you I have measles but I actually have the mumps, what are you going to catch if you spend too much time around me?
Consider this. A mother smiles at her daughter in a pretty dress and tells her she’s beautiful. Then turns back to the mirror and says, “I hate the way I look. If I could just lose some weight, this dress would look a lot better” (and my husband would love me more. And I would be happy). And so the list goes on.
What message has the daughter just received? Mind sets are caught not taught. What are your children catching from you?
3) Covered by our prayers
1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to pray continually. As a recent Christian movie War Room has reminded me, we need to fight in the way that really counts. Do your fighting on your knees, rather than with your spouse or your kids. Or the TV set. They are not your enemy. The real enemy knows that we start losing when we take our eyes off Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2), so don’t give him that satisfaction. Lift your family up to Jesus daily and trust them into his care.
The devil wants us to run after other things, counterfeit ways to momentary fulfilment, but how do you teach your kids to spot a fake? You display the genuine, abundant life in Jesus, in your home, in your life.
Let them “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8) and see them come running back for more.
Sourced 13 March 2016