“Then the LORD said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.'”
– Genesis 4:6-7 NIV
From God’s discourse with Cain, we can see that the need for acceptance has been around since the days of Cain and Abel. In fact, Adam and Eve hid in shame and fear of God after eating the forbidden fruit, not believing they were acceptable to God anymore because of what they had done. God covered Adam and Eve’s nakedness as an expression of His acceptance, but they encountered the consequences of their actions in eating the forbidden fruit. God was expressing to Cain His desire to demonstrate favor towards Cain, but Cain was not accepting of what God required in order to be, feel, favored by God. Cain ignored God’s instruction on doing what was right, in order to be favored, and God’s warning of the consequence of not changing his disposition that caused him to be rejected and it led to the murder of his brother Abel.
Both Cain and Abel were accepted by God, but only one of them encountered His favor (intimate personal special/expression of grace from God). Even after murdering Abel, Cain received God’s grace and mercy, but he was a wanderer and received a mark to prevent other’s from harming him due to what he did to Abel. Cain wandered through life, burdened with the guilt of the murder of his brother, banished from encountering the personal favor of God in an intimate relationship with Him, simply because he refused to adhere to God’s instruction of doing what was right.
During a transition, our children can begin to carry unnecessary burdens of guilt that they’re to blame for the transition, they’re unloved, or the fear of being rejected by either or both parents. During the transition, their grief over what has occurred may cause them to get ‘stuck’ in some habit or behavior that inhibits them from doing what is right. Shrouded by the reality of the world they have entered into due to the transition, as Adam and Eve entered into the darkness of the reality of their circumstances by eating the forbidden fruit, children need the validation of acceptance to remind them they are loved and the circumstances that have created the transition are not their fault. They need to know that though they may be struggling to do what is right they are still accepted.
Acceptance validates that I am significant, valued and special as an individual. Cain was already accepted by God, but Cain did something that was not acceptable to God and God expressed to Cain to change his ways, but Cain ignored God and things got worse. Cain wanted God’s favor, that Abel received, without doing what was right. During a transition, a child may act out, engaged in not doing what is right still seeking favor for doing wrong. They need to know they’re still accepted, but favor comes with doing what is right. Rewarding negative behavior only reinforces poor choices.
God used the promised land to inspire hope in His children and hold them accountable to doing what was right as He led them through the wilderness of their transition from slavery to their destiny. Instilling within our children a sense of mission, purpose and vision will go a long way in helping them experience acceptance and favor consistently as they grow. Establishing clear, specific rules, rituals and routines provides structure, order and influences self-discipline. In spite of the transition, my children, both, have consistently maintained honor roll status with my daughter attaining straight A’s the past 2 school years. Both have encountered lapses emotionally, mentally and academically due to the stress of the transition and the rigor of school, but they have persevered bringing low grades in their 5th (daughter) and 3rd grades (son, now 4th) to A’s. Let’s instill resiliency within our children with acceptance!
May God bless you and help you experience His acceptance and favor to share with those you love during your transition towards resiliency.