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Points to Ponder: A P.L.A.T.E. of promises

Points to Ponder
A P.L.A.T.E. of promises
By Pastor Whitmore
Weekly Contributing Writer

I was discussing the challenges of fatherhood with a man. Though he was my age, his children are now grown. He said that kids go through a time of mental illness between the ages of about twelve to nineteen. That sweet little girl you once knew becomes a teen and then you wonder if this is the same person.
When his daughter hit age twelve, the attitude (typical of teens testing their limits) began to show. He had a talk with her and issued a five-fold promise to her. It forms the acronym
P.L.A.T.E. I like his advice. He told her (and I'm paraphrasing):
"I promise you that I will always PROTECT you; I will always LOVE you; I will always be there to ASSIST you; I will always TEACH you (you won't like that too much...but I'm gonna do it); and though you will choose how it goes, I will ENJOY you."
Children can make it hard for their parents to enjoy them. But we are dealing with the mental illness of the teen years. He said that though she (like most kids) believed the world revolved around her, he had nothing to prove to her. His world didn't revolve around her. He said that he told her he had plenty of friends. He didn't need another twelve-year-old friend. He's her dad, not her buddy. He gave her the PLATE of promises and assured her, that like it or not, he would be there.
It is interesting to see the parental trend of wanting to be liked by our kids. How often do we compromise on what's best in terms of discipline, setting limits, and enforcing standards of behavior because we want to be liked. We want to be on "friendly" terms. That's a trap devised out of our own selfishness and insecurity. Why would a parent step down from the higher level authority and respect to the level of buddy or friend? I am the only man in our girls' lives who can be called Dad. All other guys are friends, someday one or more will be "boyfriend" (scary thought).
The PLATE concept of fatherly love is higher and more dependable. What great security to know your daddy loves you more than any man - or anyone - ever will. How many girls have given their bodies, and their dignity, to some man because they just want to be loved? And because we propagate the myth that love is a feeling, desperately lonely young people pursue that elusive feeling that's supposed to be love. A lot of the music they listen to equates it with sex. What a trap of despair.
I cover this in premarital counseling, asking the couple, "What is love?" Invariably most describe their feelings for each other. Marriages founded on such romantic notions lack a deep foundation. True love is deeper than emotion. It hangs in there in spite of emotions. Look at the classic "Love Chapter" verses often recited at weddings:
"Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things" I Corinthians 13:4-7).
All of the above are acts of the will; none involves a feeling. You can do each of these for someone you don't like or for a loved one with whom you are angry. Love is a commitment to the good of another. Emotions come from me and are all about me. Jesus says,
"Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends" (John 15:13).
And that brings me back to the PLATE of promises given by an insightful dad to his teenage daughter, although it certainly could apply to any child.
To know that your dad - or your mom - is committed to Protect, Love, Assist, and Teach you - is to know you are loved. To enjoy that love and make it a joyful experience for the parent, that's the only choice the child has in the matter. Because "Love never fails" (I Corinthians 13:8a).
This is a valuable lesson and perhaps the most challenging. Why? Because we have to teach it by example.

Hilltop Christian Fellowship, 12624 Trinity Church Drive, Clear Spring. Listen to Rev. Whitmore on WJEJ-1240 AM, Tues and Thurs at 10:45AM and 10:45PM. www.hilltopchristianfellowship.com.

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