Thursday, April 29, 2010

Time For Another Stern Correction...or a Hug

I find myself continually wondering why I don't treat my children with the same kind of gentleness and love with which God treats me. I think about this often because it's an area in which I struggle greatly. Gentleness. Gentle, as defined in the Webster's Dictionary, is "generous; kind; easily handled; not violent, harsh, or rough; to calm or soothe as by stroking." Gentleness is an attribute the Bible ascribes to God and to the Spirit of God. We are to strive to be gentle. I wish I could write this blog as someone who has the answers for a reader who is searching for the answers. Well, guess what? I am not that someone. I am spending each and every day of this journey searching myself and striving to become a much better person; a better wife; a better mother; a better friend. So, I write this blog as one who is, like you, experiencing the journey and hopefully getting better each and every day.

So, having said that, gentleness is something I desire to exhibit to others in my life--especially those precious ones for which I'm responsible. I was reading yesterday about love languages, again, and really learning a great deal. This particular concept was that young children rarely act out unless they're on empty. This could mean that the sense of love that they need to feel from mom or dad is lacking. Or, maybe they're physically empty; maybe they're tired, hungry, sick. They act out because they are on empty! Well, I can say first-hand that I understand that! I myself tend to act out when I'm on empty! When I'm hungry or tired, I become cranky. When I'm spiritually dry, I struggle to have faith and trust God. When I am overdue for some emotional fulfillment (time with my husband, time with my girls, or just me-time), I find it difficult to show kindness and gentleness to others. Yep! I definitely can act out when I'm on empty.

I've been trying to take a few extra moments when my young children are acting out to look more objectively at the situation. Not always easy to do. Sometimes in the heat of the moment I tend to be too rough (opposite of gentle). I may speak harshly or react with a punishment too quickly. And, oftentimes this reaction can block any opportunity I may have had for filling up their tanks. Oh, I've been guilty of this! Thankfully, I get another chance--and another--and another. If your kids are anything like mine you can rest assured that you will have many more chances to redeem yourself. God is so gentle with us! He forgives and gives us new mercies and new opportunities each and every day.

Today I had an opportunity to pause for a moment before reacting. Okay, truthfully I probably had several opportunities, but one stands out. I had to spend the better part of my morning at the Pediatrician's office and then at the pharmacy with my 2 youngest children. My baby hadn't been sleeping or eating well and I suspected an ear infection. My suspicions were accurate. So, after dropping off my 4 yr. old at preschool, then driving to the Dr.'s office to spend the next hour, we headed to the store to fill 2 prescriptions. My 2 yr. old daughter Ella was with me and was behaving well considering the circumstances. However, while walking across the large superstore back to the pharmacy to pick up the prescription, the whining and fussing began. Sometimes it's like nails on a chalkboard to me--though by now I'm sure I should be used to it. I really dislike whining! Too often, I begin the verbal correcting, leading up to the stern voice, and ultimately the threats to dole out a consequence. Yes, there are times for consequences. I believe we need to be consistent. But, once we stood in line (for another 5 minutes) at the pharmacy counter, I looked at my sweet, red-head 2 yr. old and paused. She whined some more. I paused again. Then...I got it. Truly. She was on empty! She was tired; she'd had no morning play time; she was thirsty; and newly potty-trained, she'd not gone to the bathroom for over 2 hours. What a sweet girl. She really is. And, she was doing her best but couldn't do it any longer. She needed her tank filled. She needed my gentleness, not my harsh reactions. I picked her up, gave her a big hug and a kiss on her cheek, and I held her. I just held her. She softened. I really shouldn't be surprised. And for all of you more experienced parents out there, I guess I'm just a slow-learner.

My husband has grasped this concept so much earlier than I have. Sometimes, at the end of a long day in which my 4 yr. old does not nap, he can really fall apart. Before our very eyes he morphs into someone we don't know and don't really like. Can I say that? At these times, he's physically exhausted and it doesn't take much to set him off. Often, in the middle of a complete breakdown, my husband will just go and hug him and won't let go. He softens. Gentleness. "Easily handled; to calm or soothe as by stroking." I hope I will continue to pause and remember to react with gentleness. What could our world be like with more gentleness? I'm pausing to think about that.

1 comment:

  1. Did I hug you enough honey? I don't know, but I totally agree with what you said about being on empty...and yes, even we adults can be running on empty and need filled, either spiritually, emotionally, or physically (by sleep or food)! So, in case you are running on empty today after your long weekend, I love you, I think you are an amazing woman and a loving mother, talented, gifted, and beautiful inside and out! I am in awe of you and what you have and do accomplish! I am proud of you and so proud to be your mother.
    XXX000XXX000XXX000XXX000XXX000 Love, Mom P.S. Don't be to hard on yourself...your children will remember you as being so wonderful and loving and gentle, I promise!