How often we think about changing others or changing ourselves. Easier said than done. Trying to change someone or change ourselves is perhaps the biggest source of frustration in our lives. But we still try. And yes, there are some time-tested methods of effecting change – guilt, shame, various forms of “persuasion” or… reminding the person of hell.
These methods can be quite effective. Many people readily change under external pressure. But when the pressure is taken away they slide back to where they were or even further.
Change is difficult. It seems easy — just change, just don’t do it, just stop. But we discover that changing others or ourselves is often beyond our control, no matter how much we try.
As for me, I often forget that change is a fruit that grows on the vine of love and relationship. Fruit is not something you create or produce, it just grows. Change comes by itself where the soil is fertile.
A while ago we noticed a strange change in our son’s behavior. He had always been a happy child but recently became irritable, impatient, whiny. At first we thought he could be tired or sick. He wasn’t. One day he gave us such a hard time, I was considering some pretty harsh discipline to bring him back to his good old self.
I had an uneasy feeling about it until the next morning when my mind cleared up as God spoke into it: “Take him swimming. Do something together”. Strangely, my heart lifted. We went swimming, played some tennis, spent time chatting, ate our favorite cinnamon rolls. We spent several days doing stuff together. And what a difference it made! He’s quite himself again, happy and motivated, with almost no effort on my part. Continue reading And nothing else matters
Some people are luckier than others — when they hear of God as a Father they have a positive image in their heads. I am not as lucky. No positive image. But how do you get to know Him as the Father if you don’t know what it means?
In my case God has come up with a trick — He made me a father, thrice. And my fatherhood seems to have become a window into His Fatherhood. After all, if we, who are evil, can give good gifts to our children, how much more can He who loves me…
Here’s a quick story about how this divine “trick” is working. When my daughter, Vyeta, was about 5 we visited our good friends in Novosibirsk. The first night we were there she woke up screaming: “I am having a thunderstorm in my ear!” As we examined her ears we saw a couple of antennae sticking out. It’s an insect, we instantly guessed — the apartment we stayed at was on the 1st floor and it was a warm summer night.
We called the emergency and, after waiting for 40 minutes, an apathetic-looking guy informed us that he had no tools at hand to remove the insect. He suggested taking Vyeta to an emergency room so I decided to go with her and Inna, my wife, stayed home with the other child. The thing in her ear seemed to have calmed down, and Vyeta felt ok. As we were riding the city streets in the emergency car I had her on my lap telling her stories, holding her tight, showing her the shiny lights that we were passing by. When we came to the emergency room, the doctor deftly pulled the little beast out of her ear. It was a Diplura. Continue reading The divine trick
One day Vyeta, my daughter, came up to me saying: “Let’s watch a movie as a family while we are having dinner”. I answered I didn’t feel like it — we had had 4 movie nights in a row plus it was late. She tried to talk me into it but I tried to explain that a little too much of any good thing will turn into a bad thing. Sometimes less is more.
She seemed ok with that and went to help her mom in the kitchen. But while she was at it – I confess I was eavesdropping though quite unintentionally, I assure you, – I quickly realized that Vyeta didn’t wholeheartedly agree with me but decided to “be a good girl” anyway. After all, Dad said watching too many movies is bad for you so I would obey even though I don’t understand why.
I would have been quite happy with such a response about 5 years ago when she was 9. But now that she is 14 I felt something was amiss in her reaction. I didn’t believe she was really with me on that point. In her heart she remained convinced that watching movies nonstop was ok. Inna (my wife) later confirmed: “Vyeta really felt like watching but she decided not to do it just for your sake”.
So I went right up to her and said: “Listen, I don’t want you just to obey. I would much rather have you experience what it is like get sick and tired of watching movies day in and day out. I want it be your own discovery, not my opinion. Why don’t you go and watch something if you want?” So she did. And wasn’t I glad she did!
I could tell her trust in me grew that very moment. When you trust the other person to make his own discoveries, not just follow your instructions, he or she develops his own convictions, deep and firm. Yes, you are walking alongside, instructions ready on your lips, but oh for that blessed moment when she suddenly exclaims: “Oh, that’s why you said that! I see now.” Continue reading The high price of coaching
One of the most effective tactics for helping our children fall asleep over the last 14 years has been the following. We say to the child who can’t fall asleep: “I will come in and check on you in 10 minutes”. If he doesn’t fall asleep in 10 minutes he or she will most likely do so during the next 10-minute interval. It’s been working wonderfully with all of our 3 children.
As soon as I say: “Mom or dad will come and check on you in 10 minutes”, the child will almost instantly relax. He knows he has to wait a little and he will see my face again. 10 minutes is not too long to wait. I have been wondering why things are a bit more difficult between me and God on this issue of relaxation. After all, hasn’t He said: “I am coming soon?” It’s time to relax and fall asleep. But it doesn’t always work that easily.
It’s easy for the child. He know mom or dad will come in, give him a kiss and all will be well again. No wolves will break in. Dad is here, at the door. Yawn… and he’s gone.
“I am near, right at the door”, says God. Time to relax, calm down, rest. Breathe freely and deeply — your dad’s coming. What’s there to fear? He will come in in 10 minutes. If you do not fall asleep the first time he comes, you for sure will at his second coming. The Second Coming is not a thing to fear but a reason to relax, cease striving, sleep, so to say. “For He grants sleep to those He loves”.
“The end times” are not a time for panicking, getting agitated or worried. It’s a happy relaxation time — dad will come in 9,8,7,6,5 minutes. The closer he is the calmer we get. And you know, you will probably fall asleep before his second coming. My kids always do. They always fall asleep before my second coming. Continue reading How to get rid of wolves in 10 minutes