That was my day today! I “saw” a lot of “red” today. Oh, not the pretty kind, like in flowers, fruit, or something cheerful. No, it was the kind of day where my blood pressure must have been like lava.
The day started with some disappointment — nothing unusual in the life of a mom. A good friend had invited us to join her son and her for a birthday celebration. It would have been fun, but instead I spent my morning cleaning up stomach contents from a sick son. Not pretty at all.
The Mommy mode went into full gear, and soon the sick one was ensconced in a comfy chair with all possible means of comfort given. The laundry was churning in the wash machine. The kitchen was clean again. Business phone calls were made — everything from prescriptions, to getting a broken window pane fixed (previous one), to VBS invitations, to summer party planning.
The day felt productive and was going fairly smoothly. Then, chaos erupted…
Seriously, sometimes I wonder what God was thinking (not in a disrespectful sense) when he gave me three very active boys and a fourth one on the way. I grew up with three sisters and one very mild brother. I was the type of girl who liked reading books, drawing, playing with dolls, and pretty things. I would play explorer at times, but I was a quiet girl. I definitely had very little experience with busy, active boys.
Here I am now… today…
My boys got into an argument. One boy locked the other brothers outside. One brother decided to take the handle to a paint roller (long kind for ceilings) from the garage and bang on the glass window of the door. As glass from the broken window pane splintered on the floor, I saw red. There was no blood. I was simply furious!
How many times have we talked to the boys again and again about consequences, controlling anger, responsibility, respecting property, and had to enact negative consequences for unwise decisions? When would they get it?!!
My son quickly sobered when he realized what he had done and how upset mommy was. The rest of the evening, he was given lots of chores to do and knew not to complain or make a peep.
Too bad, the boys’ bank accounts aren’t big enough to pay for all of the stuff they break. My husband and I decided that we would come up with an extensive list of jobs that would eventually total the amount he owes us for the glass pane. Unfortunately, it’s not the same to us, but for him, it just might teach him something positive.
I saw even more red when I discovered that same son had also stolen chocolate candy bars from my room.
Before too many conclusions are drawn, let me assure you that we do try to address all negative behavior and enact consequences. This kind of negative behavior is not tolerated. The problem is changing the heart.
It’s so easy to focus on outward behavior modification rather than the inner person. It’s the goal of my husband and I to do both, particularly focusing on the latter.
I know we aren’t perfect parents, and there is always something more to learn. But, I don’t know a single perfect parent and one who doesn’t have something to learn, including psychologists.
Our children really aren’t “cookie cutters” who come with a complete list of personal instructions. Each child is unique. Each parent is unique. This means, as a parent, I must get to know the heart of my child and learn it so that I can apply the truths and principles that will successfully lead him/her to acknowledge and examine the state of his/her own heart.
So, how did my day go from “seeing red” to seeing “blue-green”?
Blue and green are the colors of calm, peace, serenity. They are considered soothing colors. In fact, they are my favorite colors — perhaps because I need lots of calm in my life. 🙂
One thing I am learning is when I am upset, maybe I should say “really upset,” it’s best to not open my mouth. So, I ignored a couple of phone calls, resisted getting on Facebook, and kept trying to remember to pray about the whole situation.
Thankfully, God was merciful and helped me to take some deep breaths and to calm down, after awhile.
By the end of the day, I was able to get all four kids ready for bed, dishes cleaned, laundry folded and put away, and then began the process of tucking the kids into their beds. That’s when the real heart work began to occur and when I really began to see “blue-green.”
I came to the son who was the main character of these events (besides myself), and he said, “Mommy, I just can’t get it right and be good.” Seeing his pain, I immediately felt the last remnants of my anger melt away and gently said the following,
“It is good to feel sad over sin. The question is, ‘Now what are you going to do with that sadness and shame?’ Are you going to use that as a motivation to change your behavior and want to do better? Or, are you going to say, ‘Well, I am bad so I might as well just be bad.’ The first choice will allow you to seek God’s help and have His forgiveness. The second choice would be believing a lie… Have you talked with God about this, asking Him to forgive you and to help you to do better?”
My son then replied that he hadn’t. I asked him then if he would like to pray. He promptly began a simple prayer that went from discouragement to a very heart-felt prayer of repentance and desire for help. As he finished, I quoted I John 1:9 to him, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
My son went to bed with a feeling of peace and the satisfaction of knowing he had been forgiven. I went to bed very thankful that God is working in my children’s lives, even when I don’t see it at the moment. I also was humbled to see how God is working in my own life.
I too needed to learn to stay calm, even when circumstances are extremely frustrating. The experience was a reminder to me again that “heart work” is really “God-work.” I am not in control of it, merely a vessel that God enjoys using for my own benefit.