During our Christmas decorating spree on the weekend our two oldest kids found a way to make everyone around them miserable. I still don’t know how a bee got under their bonnets, but we hadn’t even started the decorating yet and they were being nasty.
My husband and I have very different parenting styles. I was doing the snack-food thing in the kitchen hoping the kids would work things out before I went into the living room and did the discipline thing. My husband got there before I did (which doesn’t happen that often because I have never been known as a patient one) and decided to handle their attitudes his way.
I have to be honest. I took one look at his ‘method’ and went back to the kitchen. Not only was he wasting precious family time he was ‘ruining’ my decorations! (Well… maybe not, but I did make a note in my head that if something got wrecked I’d know whom to blame.) As you can see, it didn’t take long for them to forget their bad attitudes and move on to fun, laughter and basically a great time. I’m not sure you’ll find a parenting book called ‘Gentle Correction for Children using Christmas Decorations’ coming to a bookstore near you anytime soon. However, it did remind me of something I needed to remember.
I’m not exactly a perfect Christian (hope none of you thought that, but I wanted to make it clear). I slip up. I sin. I get angry when I should pray. My attitude sometimes keeps me from reading the Bible, praying, encouraging, listening, etc. I get nasty with people around me and even with God. My reactions to others show more condemnation some days than the grace I planned to extend. Often my words are critical instead of life-giving. Yeah… there are times I need the discipline of the Lord.
I know it, too. When my kids do something wrong and they slink around the house I can tell they are just waiting for me to deal with the issue so that they can move on with things. I do the same thing. I tend to ‘dabble’ in my Bible instead of engaging fully. Or I walk around waiting for God to hand down a judgment from on high – a bolt of lightning, a job loss, another illness, the death of a loved one, or anything else that might punish me and make me turn from my wicked ways.
So often though, it doesn’t happen. Instead, I find myself loved by friends, enjoying an evening of laughter and friendship. Or an acquaintance taps me on the shoulder and gives me a compliment straight from her heart. Sometimes a child will come into the kitchen wrap his pre-teen arms around me and just say, “Mom, I love you and I think you’re great.”
Here I had been showing contempt to my husband’s gentle, patient, kind correction with the kids instead of being grateful for his merciful intervention. I give God thanks for moments like this when He can correct me so gently – even through the actions of my cranky kids and playful husband.
Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance? (Romans 2:4, NIV)
Thank God today for His kindness that leads us to repentance. Isn’t He good?