The Next Generation's Disappointments
There is a war going on against the destiny of a generation, and much of it comes from discouragement that leads to hopelessness. It is very troubling when you see so many in the younger generation dealing with so much hurt that some decide to take their own lives. They feel at times there is no way out of the pit of sorrow and discouragement that life brings. Social media and the information on the internet add to a child's sorrow if he or she is comparing their life to another. With any comparison, the enemy always plants lies to cause a person to feel less than another. Feeling "less than" comes in the form of skin color, gender, their appearance - all of these things center on identity. When discouragement sets in and stays, that is when it becomes dangerous.
If you were to injure your foot, you would walk with a limp. Some people have injuries to their soul and therefore they are not fully functioning in life as a whole person because their soul needs to be restored. It is like they are limping along in life, not knowing how to treat the injury. In the Bible David said the Lord restores his soul. As parents it is our call to give children the tools needed to help them overcome disappointment and discouragement. When tools are not given to overcome, a person will perceive themselves and others in the wrong way. Discouragement left unchecked will cause a person to fall into various addictions and behaviors that will try to cancel out any hope of a good future. For those of us who walk with Christ, the hope of glory lives inside of us. We can help others get restored to hope again.
So how do we help our kids?
Become aware of your role and your responsibility to your children's future. This does not mean that you fix every disappointment your child is having. No, the disappointments can actually help your child grow and mature. Many parents go extreme to help their children by getting the unpleasant things removed from their lives. This doesn't help the child learn how to deal in the real world. You don't take away your child's disappointment, you encourage them through it. There are parents that are helping their grown children so much that those children cannot mature the way God desires for them to mature and grow. If you have adult children that need help financially or need to move in with you for a season, that may be what you should do. Be aware that there must be an end date to that or you will be enabling them and they cannot or won't mature and do things people their age should be doing. The heart of a parent does not want to see their child go through hard things, but even God, the greatest parent, does not take away all of our pain. In their book "Boundaries", authors Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend say, "God, the good parent, wants to help us, his children, grow up. He wants to see us 'become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ' (Eph.4:13). Part of this maturing process is helping us know how to take responsibility for our lives." There are different ages of boundary-setting to help others to develop and grow. If you don't have this book, it is a great one to have even if you aren't a parent.
Go towards goodness in life. Your child learns from you how to react and respond to life. If you are coming undone by the things around you, responding negatively by things that aren't going your way, your child will learn this is how to handle hard things. It takes a mind shift to begin magnifying goodness. The reason it takes a shift in your mind is that in our society negativity gets attention and is even admired. Whatever you value, you attract. If you value goodness and teach your child to look for the good, you will find it, and perceptions of trials and problems will be seen with new eyes.
I can remember when our oldest daughter was working a job after school at a drug store that she did not like. Krysta would come home so frustrated and discouraged over this job. I really didn't know what to do for her, but the negative affect it was having on her concerned me. I could have her quit the job and get a new one or I could let this be a learning experience. So Krysta and I had a talk and looked for the good. The good part was she realized that she hated working with so many different types of people in a retail setting. Now that was good because it caused her to see more of how she was gifted. She felt that she could do a better job if she was the manager because she saw so many things that could bring order to that store. She wasn't the manager so how was that good? It was good because it helped her to see how she was made by God to be a leader and instilled hope into her of how her gifts would be used in the future. This job she hated was such a turning point in her life. The discouragement left because she began to see herself with new eyes. She understood more of why she hated working in retail and why she enjoyed bringing order to dysfunction. Goodness won out because Krysta has been using her leadership gifts ever since, managing companies, leading fundraisers and organizing for top administrators. Looking for the good brings the right perception so that you can make your way through the harder things in life.
Be around encouraging people. I have heard a saying that says, who you hang out with will tell everything about your future. Pr.22:24,25 instructs us, "Do not associate with a man given to anger; or go with a hot tempered man or you will learn his ways and find a snare for yourself." Your child will watch you and your interactions with your friends to see how relationships should grow. Some people stay with friends that treat them badly simply because they don't know how to get out. That is not a good enough reason for staying with someone who is bringing you down. Discouragement can take a hold of any of us, but a good friend won't let you stay in that place. Those friends that build you up when you are having a bad day or look past your failures and mistakes and really support you through life are the ones you want around you. When life is hard, you need support.
Pray and meditate your way into a better place. Ps.1: 1-3 tells us, "Blessed (fortunate, prosperous, and favored by God) is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked (following their advice and example, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit (down to rest) in the seat of scoffers (ridiculers). But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. And he will be like a tree firmly planted and fed by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season; its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers." Make a choice to live in peace and in God's counsel no matter what crisis you are faced with. You can always take a different path, but God says you are blessed if you choose His way. Your children will watch you and as they do they will learn that God will help them to rise above difficult situations. Your children will watch how you depend upon God in good times and bad. When you are desperate, you should pray. When you are not desperate, you should pray. When your children are facing something that has wounded them or discouraged them, pray with them. Teach them to pray in all situations. If a child doesn't learn to depend upon God, they will always have trust issues and wonder about God's love for them. One thing my daughters always knew about me is that I prayed about everything and still do!
Music, singing, and laughter generate love, joy and bring restoration to the soul. I love the scripture in Zeph.3:17, "Cheer up Zion! Don't be afraid! For the Lord your God is living among you, He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs." This is after Jerusalem had been going through the most troubling of times. God actually rejoices over His people with songs. I love this about our Father. He loves to sing over you and me. Singing over your children is one of the most soothing, loving acts a parent can do because it lifts the spirit and soul from being troubled and brings restoration. Music can lift you or bring you down. Uplifting music brings a sound that causes healthy vibrations to course through your body, soul and spirit. This is why when you hear the song over our flag here in America; people can be seen shedding a tear or goose bumps can be felt all over the body. Songs move people emotionally and spiritually. Songs break the stronghold of discouragement and makes one feel happy again. Proverbs 17:22 says, "A merry heart does you good like a medicine, but a broken spirit dries out your bones". Reaching out for those things that help you enjoy life bring health. Most every evening while Dan and I eat dinner we listen to music. It is a habit we have developed and it brings such enjoyment after a long day of dealing with problems.
What I have shared are strategies for you and me and our generations to break free of patterns of discouragement. Jesus promises to give us life and life more abundantly. It is time to live there - may you find your place of peace, joy and hope as you see and experience the goodness of God in every area of your life! Give others hope today.