Friday, October 22, 2010

Resting in One Who Cares For Me

Every now and then it feels as if my world is shaking...a bit more than I'm used to...or comfortable with. My mind may feel restless, my thoughts erratic, my emotions close to the skin. When this is the case, the everyday dealings can even feel overwhelming. A situation earlier today will bear witness to this. I had to pick up my 5 yr. old from morning preschool. He had gotten a bump on his lip from an accidental fall. And, as soon as I arrived he started asking, no begging, for his friend Emily to come home with us. I already knew I had to run to the store for a few things and it was simply too last minute, so I said "no." Luke began pleading, then crying. I realize he was mostly tired (from a later bedtime than normal) and a bit shaken from his earlier accident. I escorted him out of the school and he became more and more upset and resistant. As he got into the car he swung his school bag (thankfully mostly empty) at his sister on the way back to his seat...simply because he was upset.

If that wasn't enough, my baby was extra tired and fussy since she avoided a morning nap. I still had to get gas (as I was on empty), and pick up a few things at the store; later there would be soccer practice and a birthday party. I still had some school work to complete with my oldest, who was continuing to remind me of the Boba Fett costume he so desperately wants for Halloween (which costs more than I care to spend). Ella was upset over Luke's actions, and complaining of a bit of a belly ache. As I pumped gas into my car, feeling the cool autumn air, I spoke a soft prayer: Lord, please help me at the store. I realize that this could be a disaster. So much could go wrong with each of my kids. I need your help even to go to the store. I need your help in something this menial. I really cannot do this today...without you! My eyes welled up with tears. I really needed help from my Helper to do something so simple as shop for a few minutes with my children.

We got through our shopping experience without a hitch. I was thankful and relieved! Earlier, while my kids were resting, I opened my Bible to seek and write down a few scriptures related to encouragement for raising my children. Here is what I found:

Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him. Psalm 37:7

I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry. Psalm 40:1

My soul, wait in silence for God only, for my hope is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be shaken. On God my salvation and my glory rest; the rock of my strength, my refuge is in God. Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Psalm 62: 5-8

Truthfully, these are not the kinds of scriptures I thought I would be reading. I was surprised that this is what God revealed to me. But it made sense--so much sense--for so many reasons! God is concerned with everything that concerns me. He heard that prayer I sincerely uttered as I pumped gas. And He is aware of all that is unsettled in my mind and my heart. He knows about my world. He knows what concerns me yesterday, tomorrow, and right this very minute. I am so comforted to be reminded that He cares for me; He cares for us. I am choosing today to rest: to quiet the thoughts, feelings, questions, and concerns inside me. I will just hope in Him. I will wait for God to do what He sees fit to do. And I will never, ever cease bringing my cares to Him!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Tough Words

It never ceases to amaze me that when I confront my children, who were just yelling and fighting with one another, that each one always has the exact same story to tell, "It's not me. It was all his fault..." These statements are followed up with many more explanations and excuses as to why the first statement each of them made is completely true. Well, thank goodness I asked them what happened!

Earlier while I was finishing some housekeeping chores and my girls were napping, I allowed my boys to play in the backyard. It's a fenced in yard so I feel safe allowing them to play unattended. However, I always (no matter how chilly) have the kitchen window open so I can hear them. Surprise! Surprise! After several minutes, I heard arguing and yelling....not happy, playful sounds. Sometimes I think that my kids enjoy arguing with each other as much as they enjoy playing together. And sometimes, it produces a weariness inside of me. I went out and escorted them both inside. No surprise on their responses to me, "I didn't do anything! He did everything! It was all his fault!" As I sat them down for a time-out together I instructed them to think about how neither of them did anything wrong, yet here they were...both being disciplined.

As I walked into the dining room, away from my sons, the thought immediately occurred to me: they are just like adults, we never think or want to admit that we are the ones guilty of wrong-doing; it's always easier to point a finger. Now, in this case there's a happy ending--or at least a temporary happy ending. They are outside right now constructing some kind of a new bridge or tree house together (always building just like their Dad). I just checked on them moments ago and the report was that they are getting along and doing fine. Now, maybe their problem was swept under the rug or maybe they realized that they both had a hand in their argument and bad behavior and they both were going to have to make some changes if they wanted to play outside any more this afternoon. I think, generally speaking, boys don't hold grudges as long and can get over issues faster than those of us of the female persuasion. (I'm a girl, and I've found this to be true most of the time). But, I also believe that children can much more readily accept that they need to change something to get a different result. As adults, we tend to grow more stubborn and stuck-in-our-ways.

However, back to the beginning of this story--the dilemma. According to Jaden, Luke was wrong. According to Luke, it was all Jaden's fault. I heard the arguing and can verify that they were both guilty of wrong-doing (as am I because I fail to consistently work with them to resolve conflicts in the best way). Honestly, I haven't got it all figured out myself. I'll just be honest here (because if I can't be honest then this is a waste of time): there are times when my husband and I argue and I walk away before it is resolved....I give up. There are times when I know I am wrong, or at least partially responsible, and I take my good ole time to say the tough words, "I am sorry." There are even times when I don't want to receive his apologies. I am guilty, all too often, of pointing the finger at my husband and so readily being able to detail his wrongs to me. What I need to learn to do is to look in the mirror and point the finger at myself and tell myself how I've fallen short! Thank goodness we love each other! Thank goodness for grace and forgiveness--and room for growth! But, truthfully, all too often, we are just as little children in our relationships, "It's all his fault!"

I suppose my own faults seem much more clear to me now, when I see these altercations played out between my children. I see the errors of my ways. I really don't want to pass on judgement, criticism, and unforgiveness to my children. I do not want that to be the legacy I leave for them! Saying "I'm sorry" can be hard...really hard, especially when you want the other person to admit his failures and faults. And sometimes "I'm sorry" does not fix everything. There are those times when saying "I'm sorry" simply opens the door for some real resolve. Resolving matters of the heart can often take a very long time. Biblically speaking, Jesus said that we were to forgive our brother "seventy times seven times." (Matthew 18:22) I think the point Jesus was trying to make was that you will be wronged often and you will need to forgive more times than you can keep track. If I need to forgive someone that often, it's likely that I'm just as often the one who desperately needs forgiveness from those I love. Sometimes "I'm sorry" is just the beginning. But, it is a start. Humility is always a better starting point than superiority.

Well, this lesson was for me today. If I never learn another lesson in marriage, parenting, or any other relationship, I hope that I can at least conquer this one. I hope I can learn to swallow my pride (and that lump in my throat) and say the tough words, "I'm sorry. I was wrong."