My girls were fighting from the start this Sunday morning. Somewhat like the disciples at Passover, they fought over their position at the table, but clearly and unfortunately nobody was trying to be nearer to Jesus. They fought over wording, they fought over seating, they fought over who got the mirror in the bathroom. They fought over which direction they were facing in their seats as the three of us got in the vehicle and headed off to church and which way whose arms were bent. I’d been banging my head against a wall with them all morning. I had scolded, I had reminded, I had yelled from across the house, I had come back and scolded again.
The definition of insanity, I’m told, is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
So I took a breath and tried to tackle their prickly arguing from a different angle.
“Girls, can you tell me where in the Bible it says to push each other, pester each other, and say mean things to each other?”
Silence. (Beautiful, beautiful silence.)
“I can’t think of a single one. But you know what it does say in the Bible? It says that you are children of God. Both of you. How do you think you should treat a Child of God? How do you think you should talk to a Child of God? Do you think you should be using mean and disrespectful words, or do you think God wants you to talk to His children with love and respect?”
Both my girls were quiet and thoughtful for a moment, as was I, because my own words really gave me pause. Yes, in these exact 30 seconds I was a shining pillar of motherly wisdom, but as I held up my Mother of the Year award to polish it I couldn’t help but notice my reflection staring back at me, asking the same questions I had just asked my daughters. How often do I reply to my children in irritation, make sarcastic comments, raise my voice in frustration?
I imagined for a moment how I would treat children put under my care with the instructions, “These are God’s children… treat them as such.” I should be a shining example of kindness and patience! Firmly in charge, as the adult, but also respectful as due their station. But this is exactly what was discussed, more or less, at their baptism. “These are God’s children. Treat them as such.” In the exact heartbeat where I had been feeling that “YES!” moment, that victorious rush of Having Parenting Wisdom, the Spirit gently reminded me how poorly I often do exactly what I had just told my children to do. So very humbling.
2 Corinthians 6:18 New King James Version (NKJV)
18 “I will be a Father to you,
And you shall be My sons and daughters,
Says the Lord Almighty.”
My ten year old pipes up in the backseat and asks, “Mom, how do you always know how to say things just right?” This question is so very out of line with both her usual response to my pearls of wisdom and my train of thought that I am completely taken aback. A flash of gratitude, as I am reminded that sometimes I am given the right words at the right times, and sometimes so is she. “I don’t always, Nicole. I really hope, though, that it helps you to try remember to think about how to talk to your sister and to every one of God’s children.”
And when we get to church I jot down a little note to myself to ponder more, “How do I think God wants me to talk to His children?” They’re my children, but also, I’m just borrowing them for just a little while.
John 1:12-13 New King James Version (NKJV)
12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.