Friday, January 21, 2011

Be Joyful

This year one of my main goals is to help my daughter better control her emotions and tell herself the truth.  As I listen to her complain and watch her break down emotionally over the smallest things I can see how this will be one of the most important lessons I can teach her.

I see in myself and others how often we tell ourselves lies and respond as if they were true.

I might wake up one morning and decide I am fat and my hair is bad.  Everything I do that day reflects this faulty thinking.  I will dress a little more sloppy, not put as much effort into my usual morning routine, avoid interaction with other people and show little confidence when I do talk with others.

Our self talk, controlling our mind and telling ourself the truth are vitally important to every part of our lives.

In her dramatic 5 year old world she tell herself much more serious lies.  When I am combing her hair and it pulls she will yell out, "I wish I were never born!"  While the extremity of the statement may be funny, to let that negative thinking continue can become much more serious as she gets older.  She will tell herself her friends don't like her if they don't sit next to her in a group, her life will be "ruined" when she doesn't get her way, and it will be "the worst day ever!" if I ask her to try new food.

So we are learning to think differently around here.  We can choose to have a positive or negative outlook on life.  I don't believe we have innate optimistic or pessimistic views of life but rather we develop habits and thinking patterns throughout our lives. 

OK from a biblical view I would say we have an innate pessimistic view of life, and without God it is probably well put, but we can choose to be free from our sinful, pessimistic self with the help of the Lord.

So this year I am going to be working to help Isabelle start her life on a positive note which I pray she will continue throughoutt her life.

I was telling a friend about my big plan recently and she thought it was wonderful.  Yes that was a good idea.  "How do you do that?", she asked.  I don't know!  I have identified the problem and the need.  Isn't that enough?

So far my plan has consisted of simply pointing out the lies and negative thinking.  "Why wouldn't you want to be born?  I would miss you." "If you lived with Lauren you would still have to...take a bath, brush your teeth, comb your hair, make your bed..."  This morning as she stood in -20 degree weather waiting for the bus and yelling, "I hate winter!  I hate being cold!"  I controlled my urge to join her and instead jumped up and down (to warm up) and said, "we love how strong and adventurous MN winters make us!" (maybe someday I will believe it.)

Today the Lord began giving me some spiritual direction for this journey.  I came across a note in my Study Bible about being joyful.  It starts out, "unlike much of contemporary society, the Bible does not confuse joy with happiness."  I was reminded that we choose joy.  And that is exactly what my daughter is not doing.  We aren't going to love every moment of our lives but that doesn't mean we have to climb in the mud because of it.  The commentary goes on to say, "joy is more of a process, often developed most profoundly during periods of chaos and suffering. (like suffering through a MN winter?)  The deep, sustaining joy of the Lord comes from an assurance that he is with us and will deliver us...from this scarred and stained world.  Such joy is able to express its hope, even in the middle of legitimate sadness."

My girlfriend who asked me how I was going to help my daughter think differently actually turned out to be the one who had the answer all along.  That same evening during a different conversation she shared the fact that her boys tease her about the word "joyful" being one of her top 5 words she says all the time.  "Be joyful."  Thank you friend.

1 Thes 5:16
"Be joyful always."

John 15:11
"I have told you this so my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete."


  1. I Love! Love! Love! Your Post! I love how you handle the situation (You are so much like me - LOL). Age 5 is the Whiny Stage! I've got great stories about that stage - Remember the whiners? From SNL - I never watched it much, but that one always stuck out. Or Eyeore (much more G-rated). We would do some funny imitations when our first one started into that stage (kind of took us by surprise when he did) - and sometimes outrageous mimickry(sp), they can actually hear what they are doing.

    However, I love your approach. I remember one year, we turned it into the year where our son made his needs known, instead of stuffing. We focused on that. Compared to how others did it (great way to show how not to do it) and how others did it successfully.

    I am so excited for you and your vision! Getting that Joy of the Lord Down in Her Heart!

  2. Love it! I think you're probably doing the only thing you *can* do: helping her replace the negative, overdramatic messages with messages of hope. And I know it'll be so good for you, too! Isn't it great how teaching our kids helps us keep ourselves in line too?