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the price of peace

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

How could I teach them to love the LORD and hope that they'll WANT to go to church every Sunday, if every experience they remember from their childhood is a nagging, yelling, angry episode?

Why are Sundays mornings always like this?
Last Sunday I argued with the kids from the time they woke up, all the way through breakfast, getting them dressed, brushing their teeth, combing their hair and walking out the door.
Actually, we argued in the van and up until the point where we opened the doors of church.
Thank goodness we stopped there!
Yea. Godly attitude, I know.
'But God,' I argued with the Almighty (like you have a CHANCE of EVER winning one of those!) 'I'm supposed to raise them to be responsible adults. I'm supposed to teach them to go to church every Sunday no matter what...and with the right attitude.'
'Uhhhh-hmmmm....,' He seemed to say.
Aaaaaahhhh...that's it, right there, isn't it? How could I teach them to love the LORD and hope that they'll WANT to go to church every Sunday, if every experience they remember from their childhood is a nagging, yelling, angry mom?
As if He hadn't pricked my conscious enough about it, God had Pastor smack me upside the head with this set of verses...

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. - Ephesians 4:1-3

Hmmmm...that was certainly lacking, wasn't it?
And who's fault was it?
Its not that I don't have a responsibility to bring my children to church, place in them in a position to learn about God and teach them about the attitude we need to approach it with...
But I also need to teach them about humility, gentleness and patience. Lessons I sure wasn't teaching by example.
When he mentioned the point about patience Shad nudged me in the ribs.
Alright, already! I get it. I don't have any patience. Its not like you're telling me anything new.
But indeed He was.
God is not only looking for patience. He's looking for long-suffering. ..the kind of patience mentioned in I Corinthians 13:4

"Love is patient, love is kind...."

The word patient here is a Greek word derived from Makrothumos which means 'not to lose heart; to be long-suffering, slow to anger, slow to punish. The same word used in Ephesians 4.
While Ephesians 4 is directed at Christians and how we deal with each other. I think the same can be applied to me as a mom.
I have a tendency to get irritated and angered easily and I can't always pinpoint why. Taking a deeper look I realize it mostly caused by my desire for perfection.
On Sunday mornings I would love to have perfect looking children, arriving in a perfect looking vehicle, with the perfect countenance upon our faces ready to come face to face with God.
Instead my need for perfection just leaves me frustrated when kids aren't doing much more than messing around on Sundays and coming to me ready for church in a dirty pair of jeans and crumpled up shirt from the bottom of their closet!
The truth is, God's not worried about how they look.
What concerns Him is my attitude. He has chosen me to be Christ's representative on earth...a representative to the world...but more importantly, an 'ambassador' to these four precious children.
In Ephesians, Paul is challenging me to live a life worthy of what God has called me to do...the awesome privilege of being called a child of God...and mom to four of his most beautiful creations.
And that job description needs to include being humble, gentle patient, understanding and peaceful.
My kids are watching me. The question is can they see Christ in me?
No one is ever going to be perfect here on earth...least of all me. But the Father's patience with me is long-suffering...never-ending. Don't I owe my kids that same kind of patience?
I'm not saying I need to back off and become buddies with my kids. My job is still to parent. They will have all kinds of friends in their lives, but they will only have one set of parents.
Well, two, if you count their birth parents, but what I'm saying is, I don't have to fight them tooth and nail.

Do I really need to nag Nick about slipping on his shoes instead of tying them? Is it really worth the battle to try and convince Anya that her summer dress isn't appropriate for the dead of winter...especially when natural consequences will teach her soon enough? What about rushing the kids around so that they can eat breakfast? If they don't eat, they starve until lunch, I bet they won't do it twice.
And isn't it more important that we get to church in the right frame of mind so we can ALL be spiritually fed?
I imagine the Father thinks so.
So here's what He's taught me this week. I need to remember...

  • Perfection exists only in God. We need to love him and each other, not the visions we have for perfection here on earth.
  • Anger doesn't bring about the righteous life God desires.
  • Paul says 'make every effort' because its going to take some work.
  • Rather than dwelling on my children's weaknesses, I need to pray for them.
  • Relationship building is one of Holy Spirit's jobs. He leads, but we have to be willing to follow and to do our part. To do that, I need to focus on God, not myself.

8 salty messages:

Katie March 24, 2009 at 7:35 PM  

We struggle with maintaining a spiritual frame of mind on Sunday mornings, too. It just comes with having to get so many people out the door.

I've found that, for us, if I plan for the temporal things it helps with the spiritual things. Our best Sundays are the ones where I lay out everyone's clothes, shoes, socks, etc. on Saturday night. If I remove the annoying variables, I can make it to church with greater patience and peace.

mrsbroccoliguy March 25, 2009 at 8:46 AM  

It was very considerate of God to direct you to write all of that down for me! Seriously, I have been struggling with this very issue this week! I mean, I'm tempermental and impatient all the time, but this week I'm really aware of it and wanting so much to change. I never wanted to be a "yelling" mom... and yet? Happens way more often than I want it to. Thank you for this post. I may just have to print this one out and post it on my wall!

Rita T. March 25, 2009 at 2:03 PM  

We learn so much when we simply listen. Great thoughts.

Elaine March 29, 2009 at 7:33 PM  

I so get what you are saying here. But one thing: if you don't get them to eat breakfast, even though they may learn not to do that again, won't you have to suffer in the meantime? I mean, even when they eat breakfast, some of my kids spend half of church whining about how hungry they are!

Annie,  March 30, 2009 at 3:07 AM  

Great thoughts! Just thought I'd let you know, I responded with my own post:

Karen, author of "My Funny Dad, Harry" May 3, 2009 at 5:07 AM  

It sounds like you learned a great lesson here. I think it's always tougher with kids to get ready. It may help for you to get up a little earlier to spend some time in prayer before the kids get up, just pouring out your heart and giving him your concerns, then asking for His Holy Spirit to fill you with love, patience and kindness.

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