I gave this testimony in church yesterday morning, about how God is saving me (from my sins). And I listened to myself, and I thought how sad it is that I’m 41,and I seem to be still on such a low level of following Jesus, thinking His thoughts, showing His heart.
So in that way, it’s a bit discouraging, but …. at least I’m not where I was 11 years ago, thank You, Lord.
Saturday morning I had a Jesus moment in the kitchen with Una.
We both get up early–we’re the early birds, and we were in the kitchen, I was fixing cream of wheat for breakfast (my kids love this and they eat it almost every morning). Andre woke up too and joined us.
But it was early. Vitaliy, his mom, Skyla and Vika were all still sleeping. It was a busy time in general. The day before, Vitaliy, Skyla, Vika, and I had driving to another city to attend a missions conference, and then home that evening, then this morning, we were driving there again. Andre and Una were staying home with babushka yesterday and that day, Saturday.
So there we are. And Una, she’s 2 and a half, talks a lot. We can mostly decipher what she’s asking for. But she was trying to ask me for something, and I couldn’t figure out what she wanted. Not by repeating, not by asking questions, etc.
So she started to “cry”/yell in frustration. It was tearless yelling/crying.
So then, in my mind I start immediately feeling this pressure– she’s got to stop screaming! Everyone needs to sleep!
So I started telling her, Una, stop crying. I repeated this several times. And I held my hand over her mouth so the screaming couldn’t be heard, and so she would understand that she HAS to stop!
But she didn’t stop.
Now. Here was my moment: What am I going to do?
10 years ago, I would’ve spanked her. … But I don’t spank anymore, and that’s because I try not to use punitive reactions or methods with my kids generally.
That morning, I was thinking, I would take her to Vitaliy and he can get her to lay down, be quiet and probably fall asleep again. But I didn’t want to bug him.
I could feel the strictness, the anger, irritation rising inside me. Now my old way– my kid is NOT obeying me! Punish!!! was not really there. But her childishness was starting to provoke my fleshly reaction of acting more and more strictly.
She is still yelling. I stepped away from her, and started washing the dishes. I honestly did not want to pray. I didn’t want to give up my fleshly way. –That’s the lie–that my fleshly way will be easier, and God’s way will be harder. That flesh dying–yes, that’s hard for the flesh. But in reality, God’s ways– they are life and peace and health to my bones.
So God gave me the grace to start praying about how to show love, gentless, patience, meekness to this child.
Let me insert something. Clay Clarkson’s book, Heartfelt Discipline, has a chapter entitled something like “Instead of Strictness, Sympathy.” I have never forgotten just the title all these years.
I don’t know what all happened to me in those few moments of prayer, but I felt my heart releasing and opening. I waited even a bit more, until the ugly was ALL gone and I was ready to deal with Una and not get immediately angry again if she rebuffed my attempt to help her.
She’s still yelling.
I dried my hands off, got down in front of her, and hugged her and said, “I’m sorry I can’t understand what you want.”
And Una, who loves to hug, immediately ceased yelling and hugged me back, and was ready to move on.
Thank You, God, for being such an example of a Father. Thank You, Jesus, for living out His heart of compassion when You walked among us. Thank You, Spirit, that you live this out in us.
I think often of Isaiah 53 when I think of my children. That is such an emotional passage. For example,
Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering….
In some measure, like Jesus, we can carry the pains of our children through sympathy and compassion.
Thank You, God, for how you are saving me. I love You.
*** And I want to add, that today, she also cried a lot like that in the early morning. But I’m not going to set my face against her in punishment. What if she’s feeling the time change? The fact that we were out of the house running hither and yon ALL day long yesterday? That mommy was gone for two days before that? Maybe it’s just some phase in the hard age of two. Maybe she’s not able to express herself otherwise. Maybe she doens’t like being awake with only me. You know? It’s OK. I can graciously, kindly bear the little pains and sufferings of my kids with dignity, and I’m old enough as a parent to not worry that I’m leading them down the path to a life of manipulative selfishness. (I can also step away from the pressure of a two-year-old for a while, thanks to my family 😉