And let people learn to devote themselves to good works in order to meet urgent needs, so that they may not be unproductive. Titus 3:14
My in-laws came to visit a few weeks ago. That Sunday morning, we made last minute plans that had us scurrying to get to an earlier Mass. In the chaos, I was the last one down to the car.
To my sheer and utter horror, I saw my thirteen-year-old son, Mason, bucked into the front passenger seat, while his 82-year-old grandfather was making his way to another spot. In my mortification, I tried to hustle Mason out of the front seat to make room for my father-in-law, but the damage had been done. My father-in-law had already side-shuffled through that little space between all the buckets of outdoor toys stored next to the garage wall and the mini-van to get to the middle row. Getting him to shuffle back was too much to ask.
On the drive to church, I kept asking myself where I went wrong, and what other lessons and manners I’d failed to teach my kids. I really thought I’d covered all the bases and taught my kids well. A wave of overwhelming defeat washed over me.
There’s no better place to bring your sense of failure than to God in church. As I prayed my way through the scenario, again and again, He helped me see things differently.
None of us has learned it all, even as adults, and none of us has graduated from life. If we think we have, we risk being stagnant, close-minded and arrogant. We’re always supposed to be learning and growing, recognizing and correcting past mistakes along the way. Our kids are no different.
Rather than compiling a list of all my kids’ egregious mistakes and listing them as my failures, I need to see that list as the curriculum for this new semester of their lives, and mine as their teacher and mom. Rather than berating us both, I need to open my classroom back up and teach the lessons again in a way that sticks. And if they don’t stick, I need to alter my teaching style until they do.
I also need to recognize that some kids test well, and others can’t handle the pressure. If my kids fail a test, I need to create make-up work that reinforces the lesson over and over again, in a less tense setting.
That morning, in the seating arrangement debacle, the chaos of us making last minute plans had us yelling at our kids to quickly get into the car. Mason did what he was asked to do: He raced downstairs, jumped into the front seat, and buckled up. It was the “Respect Your Elders” lesson that he failed.
He and I talked after church about it all. For his make-up lesson, he spent the rest of his grandparents’ visit holding open their doors, carrying their bags, allowing them to go first in everything, and generally putting their needs before his own. That hands-on homework had him ingesting the lesson in a deep, and hopefully, longer lasting way.
Questions for Reflection:
* Do my kids continue to make mistakes, despite my having taught the lessons before?
* If so, how do I react?
“None of us have graduated from life!” A sublime truth whether we are 13 or 82.
For those of us who believe that God isn’t finished with us yet, but that we’re still on the potter’s wheel, being molded and shaped by His Loving Hand, your account involving Mason’s momentary thoughtlessness toward his grandfather demonstrates all the more how a dedicated parent, like yourself, reflects beautifully God’s gentle shaping of His children, this time, Mason, when he acted thoughtlessly toward his 82 year old grandfather. Instead of yelling in that moment at your son, you turned toward our Loving Father, believing you had fallen short of your parenting, (I pray God straightened you out on that misconception!) and in your faithful prayer, you had God fill you with His own wise, gentle and loving approach that He wanted you to take when speaking to Mason about this very human thoughtlessness, of which we are all guilty at times. As a result, I believe in my heart that Mason’s human mistake will resonate deep within his own loving spirit, and that he’ll from now on be ever reminded of this incident, and will want to show God, and his loving mother, how he wants to learn and make up for this thoughtless moment by practicing thoughtfulness in future situations , of which they’ll surely be many, toward his grandfather, and towards others.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thanks so much, Jackie! Although I did not yell at Mason, it wasn’t for lack of wanting to. I just was too embarrassed in front of my in-laws to do so. Were we alone, you bet I would have let him have it at the top of my lungs!!! But I guess that’s yet another blessing God gave me in this situation – putting me in a position where I couldn’t react in my usual volatile way. Instead, He brought me to Him at church.
The insight you get from prayer amazes me. I appreciate your sharing so that we can all learn from it because we’ve all been there. Great lesson!
Thanks, Laura! I do find God ALWAYS gives me what I need. I just wish I didn’t need so much!!! But I guess that’s the whole point – to live from a stance where we always need Him. 🙂