When a military officer yells “About face!” his soldiers turn their faces 180 degrees to face the opposite direction. In terms of how we express our emotions, it’s time for us to do an about face, as well.
Ditching bad tough guy habits is difficult, but very possible! Our heavenly Father gives us the virtues we need to replace the old with the new. In the Bible, Galatians 5:22 talks about love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. It sounds unrealistic in prison, but God did not say these virtues work for everyone except prisoners. And of our kids deserve the effort. Here are three things you can do to cultivate these virtues:
- On a sheet of paper, list each virtue above. Rank yourself on a scale of 1-10 on how well your daily life exhibits each virtue.
- Identify your lowest ranking virtue and begin making that a focus of your prayer times and scriptural studies within a small fellowship of fathers.
- Discuss within your fellowship of fathers how you can model and mentor these virtues into your children and grandchildren through letters, phone calls, and during visits.
Practicing these virtues will be reflected on our faces. And this Christmas is the perfect opportunity for you to show your family the change that’s happening inside you. You won’t have to tell them. It’s a change that can be heard in your voice during phone calls, shared in your letters and emails, and revealed on your face during visits.
With change reflected in your face, you can expect your children to react differently. Over time, they’ll grow more comfortable around you, and will be more and more excited to see you.
Pray for these virtues, and then put them into action. Throw out your old mask and unwrap a brand new way to connect with your kids!
Randell D. Turner, PhD is the senior associate with ICF International. He also developed the Helping Offenders Parent Effectively program for the Pennsylvania DOC.