I’m a work in progress. God is continually refining me and I’m grateful for that. I love that He is working on me, pruning me, and helping me to grow. I don’t know about you, but it seems like, for me, one of the areas that requires the most refinement is parenting. Being a mom is a challenging job. It requires us to be selfless, patient, loving, generous, tender, and all of those other wonderful qualities that seem to go against all that is natural in us. For me, there has been a learning curve with this. My boys are 13 and 9. I was kind of hoping I’d have it all together by now. I don’t. I love my kids and they know this, but I also make some mistakes parenting. My kids know this too. We are on a journey together and they know that we are all growing and learning through the process. Tonight I learned some things and I thought just maybe someone else might find them meaningful too.
These lessons came after a rough start to our bedtime routine. (Please tell me you’ve been there and that this doesn’t only happen in our home.) It was going so well, and then, all of a sudden, it wasn’t. Meltdowns ensued. Consequences and corrective conversations had to happen. The correction wasn’t really very sweetly given and even less sweetly received. Earlier in the evening, the boys had asked to sleep in my room, but I had taken away that privilege as a consequence of the craziness that we had all just participated in. Tears were shed. By the time I had both kids in bed, we were all a little frazzled.
I was frustrated and worn, but was trying to bring a little peace back into our night before we all went to sleep. I asked the boys to sit beside me in Gavin’s bed, and I reminded them that today had been a little rough and we needed to all work a little harder at being loving and respectful tomorrow. I pointed out some of the areas that we struggled with throughout the day and mentioned that we all should try to do a little better tomorrow. The list wasn’t a short one. It hadn’t been our very best day and I wanted to use this as a teaching opportunity so that we could all improve in the areas that were problematic for us. I wanted to drive this lesson home so that it stuck because I wanted tomorrow to be better for all of us.
My tender-hearted and wise-beyond-his-years 9 year old stopped me and said something that has been on my mind ever since. He looked at me with very sad eyes and said, “Mommy, really, it has been a pretty good day. There was way more good than bad. Right?”
You know what? He was right.
It actually had been a pretty good day. It wasn’t perfect, there was way more good than bad. However, in my frustration, I was focused on all the bad moments that had happened. Not only that, I made sure we were all focusing on them. I was wrapping up a pretty good day together by dwelling on all of our mistakes.
Don’t we all tend to do that sometimes? We forget about the day’s blessings because we let ourselves be consumed with the frustration of the moment.
I am all for looking at the areas we struggle in and finding ways to improve in those areas. We all need to do that from time to time. It is an important part of the growth process, but there is also a lot to be said for extending a little grace and mercy sometimes too. God does that for us so often. I am afraid that I don’t do it nearly as often. I thought of the verse that I had read earlier that morning in Romans 2:4b that says that God’s kindness is meant to lead us to repentance. Maybe a little kindness sprinkled in with my correction would do more to encourage a repentant heart in my kids than my list of wrong doings. Hmmmm, God, are you trying to tell me something?
I finished tucking in my boys and then jumped into the shower to just physically and literally wash away the day. Some of my best thinking happens in the shower, and tonight wasn’t an exception. I couldn’t get Gavin’s words out of my mind. I was reminded of my tendency to look at the frustrating moments and forget the bigger picture. I was also reminded of God’s mercy and grace, and especially His kindness. I thought about the times my heart was most often turned toward repentance, and I saw that it was most often due to His kindness. He doesn’t throw my mistakes back in my face and make me confront them over and over again. When I’ve asked for forgiveness and owned my failures, He forgets them and loves me like they never happened. He’s way better to me than I deserve. He is so patient and longsuffering with me.
I finished my shower and went back into my kids’ rooms. It was obvious that both boys were having a hard time falling asleep after the emotional evening. I told the boys what the Holy Spirit had pressed upon my heart. I told them that most often, when we need God’s kindness the most is when we deserve it the least. We had obviously had a rough night, but what we all needed was a little grace, love, mercy, and some kindness.
So, here I sit, typing away. I’ve got one boy curled into his sleeping bag on the right side of my bed. The other is sprawled across the top of his sleeping bag at the foot of my bed. My heart is full as I reflect on the pretty good day that we had. We definitely had a few hard moments, but, those few hard moments allowed us all to be reminded of the grace, love, and mercy that is always there waiting for us. Those moments reminded me of God’s continual kindness that draws me to repentance. Those moments, the words of my sweet boy, and the Holy Spirit, taught me a lesson tonight that I hope sticks with me for a long while.
Love and blessings,