When I was younger, I could run hard on the basketball court and keep up with everyone. Now that I am not so young, if I’m going to keep up and not keel over, I have to play smarter not just harder. That same principle applies when it comes to raising my children also–my time is limited, so if I’m going to make the most of it, I need to work smarter, not just harder.
A few Saturdays ago, I was at Monrovia Canyon Park, and I was observing a little bird who was working very hard but was not very smart. He was sitting on the side mirror of a car, and every time he looked in the mirror, he freaked out because he was convinced there was another little bird invading his territory. So he dutifully attacked this “invader”, over and over again, trying to protect his territory.
I smirked as I watched this not-too-bright feathered friend, but then I began to wonder how often I do something similar. Do I bang my head against the wall, so-to-speak, trying to make something happen in my own strength? Or am I able to step back and gain a different perspective so that I can work smarter, not just harder?
The biggest testing grounds for this is with my daughter Anah. The combination of her Down Syndrome, her post-adoption institutionalized behavior, and her limited understanding of English can oftentimes make any attempt to train her feel rather fruitless. So many times I feel a bit like that unfortunate bird, like I’m expending all this energy toward something that isn’t accomplishing anything.
So when I’ve tried every trick in the book and Anah still just looks at me blankly, I’m realizing I need to work smarter. And smarter doesn’t just mean persisting in the same thing I’ve been trying for the past 2 years, but trying something new. Call me slow, but the new thing I’ve been realizing I need to do is to simply pray and plead with God to save Anah and change her heart. My best attempts to discipline and train her are not getting anywhere because her heart is still sinful and rebellious, and until God makes that change in her that only He can do, I am simply flapping and banging my beak against the mirror.
“God, would You pour out Your grace upon my daughter and regenerate her rebellious heart. Would You save her and put Your Spirit within her, so that she has the capacity to do what is right.”