The Heart is a Wrestling Place

The heart is where we wrestling with things. When experience, teaching, and values need to be integrated into life, it happens in the workshop of the heart. Information comes into our heads on a regular basis but much of it just stays there. Only when it moves down to our hearts does it become part of our lives.

When eight-year-old, Jordan, says to himself, "I'm no good. No one wants to be with me. I'll never get it right," he's repeating negative things in his heart. Rebecca feels good in her heart because she refused to join those who were disrespectful to the teacher. Jack's mom can see a heart problem because he scowls and complains whenever she asks him to do something. In each of these situations, children wrestle with things or come to conclusions about life and its challenges in their hearts.

When parents use a heart-based approach they take advantage of this wrestling inside a child. They feed nutritious information, contribute praise for growing character, and comment about the helpful and unhelpful internal dialogue as it makes its way out through behavior.

Jesus knew that the teachers of the law were struggling inside with the fact that he forgave the paralytic in Matthew 9:4. He says, "Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts?" When the two disciples on the road to Emmaus realized that their surprise guest was Jesus, they reflected on the experience by saying, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?"

Too many parents focus only on behavior, things like getting jobs done around the house and completing homework. The real work of parenting is done in the heart.

Have you seen your child wrestle with something on a heart level?

Milan Tomic

Hi. I’m Designer of Blog Magic. I’m CEO/Founder of ThemeXpose. I’m Creative Art Director, Web Designer, UI/UX Designer, Interaction Designer, Industrial Designer, Web Developer, Business Enthusiast, StartUp Enthusiast, Speaker, Writer and Photographer. Inspired to make things looks better.

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  1. My child has a bad attitude toward those who seemingly interfere with what she has obsessively and compusively planned out as her schedule for the day. I find that I can't make a decision freely without her having drama about it unless it's something she really wants to do..any ideas? I often think I'm too close to the situation to see objectively.

  2. I am really struggling with a heart issue with one of my children and I'm desperate for help. The child in your example who says "I'm no good. No one wants to be with me. I'll never get it right..." -- that is my daughter, my middle child.

    And she is right. She is scatterbrained, has a hard time obeying, she struggles socially, and just the other night she expressed all this to me. It broke my heart b/c she KNOWS. I hugged her and prayed with her and told her that I would try to help her and assured her that I love her, but I would love some practical advice as to how to really help her overcome this. I'm wondering if we should consider Christian counseling.

  3. Hi K.
    Sounds like a frustrating situation. We find some kids are quite rigid in their needs and expectations. These are the kids who will be great planners someday. Their need for organization and predictability is what we call a positive character quality taken too far. Many of these kids are neat and orderly to a fault because they are intolerant of change or disorder. One helpful strategy may be to work on developing a character quality that balances her need for order. I would suggest flexibility. Present the idea to her as a positive step of growth, like the next thing she needs in life as she continues to mature. You'll want to define it in a way that matches her age and developmental needs. Make it practical and personal for her. For example, flexibility means to stop in the middle of a project, or flexibility means allowing some of the books on the shelf to be out of order. Ask yourself what you'd like to see instead and then develop a plan to build some vision for this new quality. Make it an adventure for her, or even a mental game to become more flexible. Work together so that she feels you're on her side, and then celebrate progress when you see it, even if it's ever so slight. Likely this will be her struggle in life, so see your job as giving her the tools to deal with it.
    Hope that gives you a few new ideas.

  4. We have a little guy that stomps off regularly. As he goes, the gut wrenching words "everyone hates me, I'm gonna run away" or "I'm just stupid" get yelled out behind him. What does one do with this? I don't know where he gets it of why he is holding himself up to a standard. Help, he is only 5 and such a commpassionate but independent little man. I don't want him to feel this way about's just doesn't seem healthly.

  5. HI Musings of a Housewife,
    It sounds like she's processing offenses, mistakes, or sins poorly, blaming herself and allowing them to affect her view of herself. Then she reacts to others in a way that reinforces her poor thinking. This is definitely a heart issue. The heart contains the operating tendencies of a person. Although you might benefit from Christian counseling, there's a lot you can do in your home. You're the best therapist for your child if you have a good plan. That plan needs to be targeted at the way your daughter thinks, what she believes. That's going to come through practice. Start this way. Ask yourself the question, "What do I want her to say, do, think instead?" This question is so important because many parents focus on what their kids shouldn't do. But they need to focus on what their kids should do. Then you're going to develop strategies to move her from where she is to where she needs to be. That's where you may need some help. But keep going in that direction and you'll see changes take place.

  6. Hi Katie,
    It sounds like your little guy is overwhelmed with emotion and doesn't know how to handle it. It kind of reminds me of some adults I know. Anyway, first, don't ramp up with him. Keep the problem his problem. As soon as you get angry with him, you turn the problem into a relational issue. This anger problem is his problem. Second, when he returns, have a debriefing. List the poor statements you're hearing and write down the ones that would be more appropriate. Then, practice. Try to give him a vision for change. That's very important. He's not changing for you. He's changing for himself. After all, you'll be six years old soon and you'll want to have a mature way of thinking about these things.

    Hopefully that will give you a start. You will likely need to do some anger therapy work for him so that he knows how to process his emotions in a better way too.