Personal growth lessons
By Sally S. Creed, LPC-S, RPT-S
When I think of the word “changes,” I start singing the song in my head “ch-ch-ch-ch-changes” by David Bowie. But Kathy Troccoli sang another song called “Everything Changes.” It’s about how we are changed when God’s love comes into our hearts. God takes us and changes us as we learn to trust and rely on Him throughout all of life’s changes.
As humans, we all experience change, both good and bad. As Christians, we learn that God always gets us through these changes. Sometimes the path He takes us down isn’t what we expected, but in the end, we realize that God knew what He was doing and had our best interests at heart. Also, because of these changes, we have somehow become stronger and more mature.
When our kids go through changes, how should we respond in such a way that helps them learn to trust God? We’d like to shelter our kids from anything upsetting or shocking, but sometimes we can’t always do this. If their beloved pet dies, we can’t hide this from them. We have to help them through these rough times, but how?
The first thing to do is try sharing with them some of your own experiences in life where God saw you through a tough time. Kids love to hear about struggles we faced when we were younger. When you talk with your kids, be sure to help them understand that:
• Change is part of life. Talk to them about things that change in nature: caterpillars turn into beautiful butterflies; seasons change every year; they are also growing up and no longer want to play with their old baby toys.
• What may seem terrible at first usually ends up being positive. This can be where your own experiences come into play. Talk about bad things that happened, and the good that came out of it. My late husband developed cancer when my son was 15 and my daughter was 18. The worst news you can ever give your child is that their parent is dying. I turned to ALL my friends for prayer during that time. We lost their dad after only a 3-week battle, but God showed up in every circumstance and situation that followed. My own faith exploded during that time of watching God take care of all of us. And my children, who still miss their dad, can look back and remember the good times with him, and see how God got us through that sad time.
• Learn to be flexible. I remember a saying my mother had: “learn to be a willow not an oak.” This means that we do better when we learn to bend and not be so rigid about things. Changes will come and if we can relax and learn to adjust to the changes, no matter how difficult, we will grow stronger and more resilient.
• Trust God in every circumstance. You can continue to struggle and fret about changes on your own, but you can’t do anything about them. God can. If we rely on Him and cry out to Him for help, He will help us. His promises are true.
When we share our own personal growth lessons with our children, they begin to understand that if God answered our prayers, He’ll answer theirs, too. Pray with your child whenever life hits them with difficult changes.
In the Bible, the book of Joshua is one of my favorites. Joshua was taking over as leader after Moses died. He was nervous and scared. God’s promises to him stand true for every one of us who follow God’s leading. Here’s what He told Joshua: “No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Joshua 1:5 (NIV)