The boys love to pick flowers. So this Spring we put in a garden just for them. We worked hard on the garden putting in good soil, planting our seeds, watering, mulching, and weeding.
But then our garden took an unexpected turn. A long came a mole.
The first time he caved in the garden under our baby sprouts I just refilled the holes with more dirt, leveled the garden out, and replanted the babies he had disturbed. But he caved the garden in again, and again, and again.
I finally gave up and waited for the plants to get big enough to fend for themselves and fill in the holes with their leaves.
Then something else struck. I’m still not sure if it was the mole, a gopher, or another rodent, but one day I had perfectly healthy Cosmos plants growing and a few days later they were gone. Not just the flowers. The entire plant was gone as if it had never been. All of them. Not a single Cosmos plant left on that side of the garden.
Luckily, there were enough flowers from the Zinnas to keep the boys happy, so they didn’t really miss the plants, but I did. We worked so hard! Now our little garden was beginning to look thin and bald in spots.
Then a month later the mole struck again! He ate our Zinnas off at the roots, so one day when Liam was picking flowers, the entire plant came up! Now over half of our garden was a barren waste land.
All this planning, working, and observing got me thinking. It doesn’t matter how much work I put into surface maintenance in a garden, in myself, or in my children, if there is something wrong deep down inside, it will eventually undo all the work I did on top. If someone’s heart is not right, then the rest (the physical appearances, the disciplining actions) doesn’t matter.
The heart issues may just be human selfishness, be brought on by external hurts, or even stem from past abuse. Wherever they originate from, they must be dealt with before we begin to build anything lasting and of value. Otherwise, just like our garden this Spring, the heart issues will eat away at the good stuff built on top until there is nothing left.
I wish heart issues were as easy to handle as moles and rodents. To take care of them, I’m heading to my nearest garden center next Spring for solutions before I once again begin to garden in my backyard. Heart issues take much more time and investment.
As I have worked to overcome childhood abuse, it has meant a lot of time with God, prayer, and counseling. Years of hard work has brought me to where I am now, and though in some ways I’m not completely healed, with God’s help I’m building on a solid foundation built on Him and His truths.
When building a solid foundation in our children, we have to go for their hearts. All the discipline and behavior modification in the world won’t help or make them behave in the long run, if their hearts aren’t in it. In a book I’m reading right now called Praying for Boys, Brooke McGlothlin says, “I’m convinced prayer is the missing piece of this puzzle. Parents who pray for their children recognize their own inability to change their children’s hearts, and put their faith and hope in the God who can” (18). I love how in this book Brooke encourages me to pray God’s word over my children. Sometimes we forget that God’s Word is powerful. He spoke the world and the solar system in to being with those words, and praying His words back to Him on behalf of our children reminds us who really “has the power to change hearts of stone into hearts of flesh” (18).
As you seek to first build a solid foundation in your life and the lives of your children, being with God. Begin by spending time with Him daily by yourself and with your kids. Pray God’s word over your family. If you’re not sure where to being (I certainly didn’t have a clue when I began), Praying for Boys has prayers inspired by scripture divided into categories like Anger, Selfishness, Love, and the like. Even if you don’t have boys, I would recommend this book.
If the heart problems you’re working through stem from past trauma or abuse, you may even need to seek out help through counseling. Don’t be afraid to do so. Like my garden, if you don’t get the help you need for the problems underground, they won’t go away. They will only fester and grow until they consume and destroy all the hard work you’ve done on the surface. Don’t allow that to happen to you. It is only when we deal with what lies beneath that anything of value can grow on top.