How Should I Respond When My Daughter Sins? The Six C’s That Will Change Your Perspective ~ Part 4

How Should I Respond When My Daughter Sins How Should I Respond When My Daughter Sins? The Six C’s That Will Change Your Perspective ~ Part 4

(Excerpt from Raising God’s Girl Chapter 5 “That’s My Girl? Walking Through Seasons of Disappointment and Pain)

It’s no wonder I am exhausted; I am surrounded by sinners all day long! And the worst part is that when I brush my teeth every morning, I look up and see the chief of sinners staring back at me from the mirror (1 Tim. 1:15). Life can be challenging, and parenting only increases the pressure and the stakes. In this series, we’ll look at some biblical qualities that can help us succeed in this adventure of Raising God’s Girl.

{To receive encouragement for the first “C” ~ COMPASSION, second “C” ~ CONVICTION, and third “C”  ~ COMMITMENT, please see our previous blog posts. Now we are going to discuss the next “C” ~ CLEANSING.}

 Cleansing

A Commitment to the Lord + A Commitment to My Daughter =

A Heart That Forgives

Because we are committed to raising our daughters in the fear of the Lord, we know we must cleanse our own hearts and forgive them. Right here, right now, while we are hurt, while our daughters are acting mean. We must forgive them.

Oh, this is a hard one.

One of our daughters went through a season of struggling with anger. Her sporadic outbursts of anger would often send us all scattering to our rooms to cope with this environment. The pressure of daily carrying our daughter in prayer, encouraging her, correcting her, helping her siblings cope, and seeking help and counsel was exhausting. I (Mary Lou) was tired of always being wrong in my daughter’s eyes, never able to have a normal conversation with her and nervous all day wondering when the next outburst would erupt. Many afternoons when I went in my room for my quiet time, I just cried out to God, wanting to escape, wanting to put on my red bathrobe and sit in the corner of my room until the anger stopped. During these moments, I felt unable to think or reason clearly, and my only desire was to get out of there.

Each time I got to this place, the gentle voice of the Lord would break through. In the middle of my rambling complaints to God about all the mean things my daughter was doing, I would feel that quiet check in my spirit: “Forgive her.”

“But, Lord! She’s being mean to me. Mean to my other children. And she just won’t stop!”

“I know. Forgive her.”

And then I would know that this was no longer an issue between me and my daughter. It was now an issue between me and my Lord. He has told me what to do. Would I obey Him?

For the Lord loves me and could see what was causing my emotional breakdown and desire to flee: I was being tormented. And why was I being tormented? Because I had a daughter struggling with anger? No, I was being tormented because I had unforgiveness in my heart.

The effects of unforgiveness are very clear in Matthew 18 when Jesus teaches about a slave that owed a king quite a bit of money. The king commanded that the man and his entire family be sold for repayment of the debt. The slave begged for patience, and the king released him from his debt.

But then the slave knew another man who owed him money. When that man was unable to pay, the forgiven slave had no mercy on him and had him thrown into jail. When the king heard about this forgiven slave’s refusal to forgive the debts of others, his response is recorded in verse 34: “And his lord [king], moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him.”

And Jesus then turns, looks at us, and says: “My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart” (v. 35).

And so I choose to obey the Lord. Today, tomorrow, and the next day I will choose to obey the Lord and forgive my daughter because I love Him, I don’t want to be turned over to the tormentors, and I know forgiving my daughter brings me freedom to raise her in love and faith.

 How Do I Forgive My Daughter?

How do we forgive? It’s one thing to get to the point where we clearly see God’s command to us in the crisis, but it’s another thing to walk it out. How do we forgive our daughters?

We start with a cleansing of our own heart: “Father, please forgive me for my unforgiveness. I repent and turn from this wicked way. I desire to obey You and forgive my daughter. Please help me to do this. I forgive her in the name and power of Jesus Christ, and I release her from her debt to me.”

We can forgive because we have been forgiven. The slave was forgiven by the king and then needed to turn around and forgive those who owed him…much less.

Our sin against the Lord is huge. He’s seen every action, every thought, every motive! Can you imagine that? Imagine having all your sinful actions, thoughts, and motives played in a video before your church family this week. It’s a horrible thought, but our Lord has forgiven us and washed us clean. So then, because we have been the recipients of such magnanimous forgiveness, we too can turn and forgive others whose sins against us pale in comparison to ours against the Almighty King. Colossians 3:13 “…forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.”

Here’s an interesting note: Let’s look back on the original act of forgiveness by the king in Matthew 18. Verse 27 says, “And the lord [king] of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt” (emphasis added). What preceded the release? Compassion, which ties in to the point earlier in this chapter.

Our daughters are not our enemies and they should not be treated as such. The enemy is the enemy and he is messing with us and he is messing with our daughters. He is the one that we need to put up a wall against, not our daughters. We need to build a wall around us and our daughters that protects us from our enemy, not build a wall between us and our daughters that separates us. For every brick that the enemy tries to place between us and our daughters, let’s pick it up, hold it up to the Lord, and declare, “I forgive my daughter and this brick is now sanctified unto the Lord. I choose to cover this in the blood of Jesus and set it in place on the fortress wall against the attack of our enemy.”

Practicing True Forgiveness

Recognizing the weight of our own sin (as demonstrated in Matthew 18) and putting on a heart of compassion are beautiful tools to help us embrace a life of extending forgiveness, but this can sometimes lead to a hyper-spiritual paralyzing of our soul that leaves us damaged and bearing wounds in our heart that we don’t understand. Seeing the magnitude of God’s forgiveness to us and having compassion on our daughters does not mean we are to minimize our daughters’ sins or the effects on us. How might this look?

“Well, I know Christy slammed the door on me again while I was still talking to her, but she’s really under a lot of stress at work. I’ve behaved much worse in my life.”

What’s the problem with this? It leaves us in “no man’s land,” a gray area where we partially forgive, partially excuse. And what’s the result? By describing our daughters’ sin against us as small, we only forgive something small. Well, that’s nice, but what about the huge hurt that’s in our hearts from their actions? It’s left there to grow and fester into bitterness. And regretfully that bitterness will come out in some other action or attitude that completely surprises us and leaves us wondering why we are struggling with our feelings for our daughters. Another brick in the wall between us.

Instead let’s call our daughters’ sins what they are: hurtful. Let’s truthfully acknowledge their actions and the results. “Christy slammed the door on me again! She is being mean and hurtful and it makes me want to slam the door in her face and let her know how it feels.”

There’s the sin, big and ugly, and then we can take this to the Lord: “But God I know you’ve called me to forgive her. And I know work has been stressful for her, and it’s hard not to take it out on those at home. I forgive Christy for being mean and slamming the door on me. I give the hurt to you, Lord. I do not want to give this incident to the enemy to use in our lives. Show me if I should mention it to her. I want to forgive her like You forgave me. Help me to walk out this forgiveness and teach me how to love Christy through this.”

That’s honesty, that’s applying the Word of God in truth, and that’s healing.

Our daughter’s struggle with anger happened many years ago, and she is now free and walks in great joy. In preparation for writing this book, I asked her how she knew that I loved her. I had a list in my mind that I expected her to pull from: “you encourage me, you welcome my friends into our home and love on them, you are eager to hang out with me, etc.”

She looked right at me and without hesitation answered, “Because you forgive me. Fully. Whether I seem truly sorry or not, you always forgive me and never hold back your love. Even if I’ve just asked for forgiveness a few minutes ago, you will help me with whatever I need, or do whatever I’m asking. You don’t treat me any differently.”

I thought I’d done so many other things to show my love, and this is what meant the most to her? Those other things had been natural expressions of my personality. Forgiveness was not. Forgiveness required a desperate pleading and wrestling with the Lord until my heart submitted to the truths of His Word—and it proved to be the most anointed. In my weakness, He is strong.

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