September 26, 2016 by vlittle528
This weekend we had the typical family drama of life being unfair because the kids were asked to clean their room. I could hear the kids playing instead of cleaning, and I REALLY needed a nap so I pretended they were cleaning. However, my daughter had gymnastics that afternoon so I knew my son was going to be bugging me the whole time because the rule is no chores no screens. (Seriously I will find any possible excuse to allow my son to play on his tablet for those two hours so I can keep my sanity, but I am trying this new consistency thing. Apparently it is important in the discipline of children.) I gave them a couple of warnings and then asked them to wake me up in 30 minutes. The kids-who previously left me alone for a full hour- suddenly had something they seriously needed to ask me every five minutes. When it was time to get ready to go, the room was still dirty, I was un-napped and grumpy, and the kids were needy. So when I was putting my daughter’s hair in a ponytail and she screamed OW loud enough to make the neighbors think about calling CPS, the anger took ahold of my gut and I mimicked her. Meanly. I don’t know why I did it. I am certainly not proud of it. But once felt kinda good (no wonder they enjoy being childish, it has a sense of release and satisfaction) so I did it again. My sweet baby girl responded with “STOP, mom! You are making me feel like a baby!”
Do you ever have those moments where your life flashes before your eyes? My natural response was to cringe, because I am telling you-if I EVER thought of talking to my mom that way I would have been slapped across the face so fast I would have forgotten my name. Because that was the way things were back then. When I was younger we were expected to behave. We were expected to obey our parents, we were expected to take the punishments as they came. I was afraid to speak up, I was afraid to backtalk, I was afraid to show any signs of disrespect. It just…didn’t…happen. If our parents were wrong….well they just weren’t ever wrong (even when they were). Children weren’t born with respect, they had to earn it. And usually it took about 25-30 years to earn. So initially my daughter’s demand shocked me. My first thought was “how dare you talk back to me?”. But my second was “thank you for putting me in my place. I am so proud of you”.
Granted, I didn’t say either of these to her. To be honest I was kind of in shock that I teased/mocked her. I wanted to say I was sorry but I didn’t trust myself to say anything because my mind was such a jumbled mess. In my family we are not allowed to add anything to an apology. The “but”, or any sort of other explanation, that gets tacked on to the end of an apology negates it. And I just wasn’t sure what was going to come out of my mouth.
Because the thing is, I believe our children deserve our respect. They may be children but they are people. They are children of God and are perfect in his eyes. And they are beautifully created with a special purpose, a purpose that only God knows. Who are we not to respect that purpose, who are we to diminish the power of a child God loves so much. And if we screwed them up-well lets face it, that is our fault and they shouldn’t be punished for it. My daughter had a right to stand up and tell me that what I was doing was wrong. She had a right to tell me that I was hurting her feelings. And I am glad she did. Because if she can do it with me than she can do it with anybody. And she was right. I was not acting in a way that represented my Christian faith. I was not acting in a way that honored the blessing that God gave me when he gave me her. I was acting like a spoiled brat and doing so knowing that I had the upper hand. I deserved to be put in my place.
1 Timothy 4:12
Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.
Now I do have an example of this freedom taken too far. My spit-fire of a son recently told me that he felt he shouldn’t be punished for talking back to me because (and this is a direct quote), “technically there is this thing called freedom of speech.” If your jaw is on the floor right now than you look exactly like I did on that wonderful day. Again I was speechless, but this time it was because I was counting to five billion, so I didn’t say something I would regret. No, children should not be allowed to just say whatever they want to us. And yes, I believe that trust can be broken. But I also know that there is a little thing called forgiveness. And grace.
How many times have you messed up? How many times have your worshiped your heart out in church and made promise after promise to God only to break it as soon as you walk out the door. How many times have you made a mistake and sworn you would never do it again? And how many times has He forgiven you?
What would it be like if trust was given instead of earned? What if we offered grace instead of demanded restitution? What if those harsh words someone spoke to you were part of God’s plan to teach you understanding? If so, than wouldn’t your “restitution” be the lesson learned? And what if the grace you offered to someone who hurt you was part of God’s plan to teach them that there is kindness in world they believe is dark? Wouldn’t it be worth it? What if your grace turned them into a believer? What if your grace turned someone’s whole life around?