November 13, 2007
It’s all in the Character
By Michelle Weber, She Speaks! graduate
“Be imitators of God, therefore as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us.” Ephesians 5:2
“I’ll race you to the top,” my 6 year-old daughter Emily shouted to her 4 year-old little sister Amanda. Emily was already at the top and headed into her room before Amanda was barely half way up the steps. I waited for Amanda as she carefully climbed the stairs, pulling herself up with her arms to compensate for the weakness in her legs.
As I tucked Emily into bed that night I asked her to please stop turning everything into a race. “You’re asking Amanda to play a game that she just can’t win and it’s making her very sad.” With a heavy heart Emily replied, “Mommy why did God give ME all the gifts?” Searching for the right words I told her that God didn’t give her all the gifts, just different ones. I reminded her that God has given Amanda a bunch of gifts too, but hers just aren’t as easy to see right now.
The following year my little Amanda was diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy. The world as I had planned it with my beautiful healthy children came crashing down around me. “How could this be? We are an active family. We are going to take ski vacations, ride bikes and horses together.” Everyday I found myself crying uncontrollably and thinking about how incredibly unfair life was. It just had to change, it just had to.
The first thing I had to do was kick myself out of my personal pity party and get serious about helping Amanda. I wasn’t the victim here and I wasn’t going to sign Amanda up to be one either. In addition to talking to other doctors, I examined my role and became very intentional about focusing on the one thing that made both of my girls special and valuable in their own ways. We began celebrating the gift God gave them both which made them each unique. We turned our focus to their character - who they are, not what they can or cannot do.
Now preteens, my husband and I celebrate our daughters’ character and the choices they’ve made which have led to many different kinds of accomplishments, both simple and monumental. Simple acts of kindness never go unnoticed. Perseverance and a good attitude are always cause to celebrate someone, their character, and the choices they’re making.
The perfect resource and teacher for me is Christ. Because I am a believer, I have chosen to be guided by His virtues, which mold my life and influence my choices as well. Before I could hope to see His virtues in my children I needed to first model them myself. Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self Control became my personal mantra and daily cheat sheet. Galatians 5:23 states “against such things there is no law.” My children are learning about Christ through me and my daily dealings in the circumstances of life. His virtues are also plainly displayed in our kitchen as a daily reminder to all of us.
We’ve had our share of accomplishments and struggles over the past several years, each providing invaluable lessons and glimpses into each one’s character. Accomplishments and successes as well as struggles and failures in this life are temporary but necessary for developing the soul, which is eternal. My hope is that no matter what God’s plan is for Emily and Amanda, regardless of what he gives them or takes away, that they know they are special, equally valuable and amazingly unique.
Dear Lord, thank you for the sacrifices you’ve made so we can be so blessed. Give me the strength and wisdom to honor you as I raise and encourage my children to be virtuous and honorable adults who glorify you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Family Enrichment Toolkit by Michelle Weber
When was the last time you gave your child a compliment that highlighted their character? Tonight, take a recent accomplishment and think about the character shown and choices your child made which resulted in that particular success. Bring up that occasion and focus your conversation on the character traits they showed and choices they made. Help them understand and feel good about the many variables and choices which led to that particular success.
Ephesians 6:4, “Fathers do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.”
1 Corinthians 11:1, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ”
Deuteronomy 6:7, “Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and whey you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
Proverbs 31 Ministries
Matthews, NC 28105
Originally published Tuesday, 13 November 2007.