“Sorry I was upset. You know that I love you, but I am just so frustrated right now!”
The words, “I love you,” are buried in the middle of this defense of an angry outburst. They are familiar words. But familiar words often lose their impact and may become background noise to your children. More is needed than just words, than saying “I love you.” Real, tangible actions must accompany the words of love.
I Corinthians 13 says that love is patient. A working definition of patience is living in the expectation of God’s care. Patience and frustration are polar opposites. If love is patient, then frustration is not an expression of love.
Both toddlers and teenagers are equally adept in challenging patience. Love is not just a mindset, but a particular action that God commands you to take. Biblical love is not a natural thing. We can naturally love ice cream. We cannot naturally be patient. Biblical patience is the fruit of the Spirit. It cannot be modeled by sitting on a rocker on the front porch. It is modeled by a deep abiding trust that God will care for me as I seek to be a faithful parent. It is modeled by compassion replacing exasperation as you live with your children. It is modeled by enduring in love the struggles your children have, just as your heavenly father is patient with you.
Loving your children is shown by patience. Any specific situation you face in raising our children can be overwhelming. To be patient is to believe that God will care for you and your child. You can believe that God has wisdom in his word that will exactly fit the situation at hand. You can offer patient love instead of frustration. You can trust God as you cry out to him for help. You can be different.
So what does this look like in action?
Your eight-year-old is slow cleaning his room. You could say, “my patience is running out. You have thirty minutes to finish the kitchen. Do you understand? When I come back that mess needs to CLEAN!”
Or you could say, in a kind, concerned voice, “hey, you are kind of distracted aren’t you? Why don’t your tell me what is going on? Come on, you can tell me about while you clean, I’ll help you. I just want you to know I love your and I am here for you.”
Is this a magic formula to use to get rooms, clean? Of course not. But it is one way you can communicate to your child that he is important to you. It communicates to your child what patient love looks like.