Sometimes I worry I’m giving my kids the wrong idea about Jesus. I mean, I want them to grow up to be responsible, honorable, wise, helpful and loving. I want them to do dishes and clean up after themselves. I want them to be genuinely loving, not just doing the right thing to get me off their back.
Today has been a difficult day. Thankfully, it’s also been a wonderful day. One of my kids has been super-duper helpful and sweet. I’m assuming the one working with his dad today has been too. But the third, well, he’s been giving me grief. He has been shifting between refusing to do the housework and doing it with a terrible look on his face, that screams “I wish you would feel how much I don’t like you right now, Mama!”. Yuck! For the record, that one is home today because of his more subtle bad-attitude in regards to helping with housework for the past way-too-long.
So, what do I do? Stomp my feet and force him to do it? After all, I am the mom and it’s my honor and authority that’s at stake here. That’s a fair description of what I was doing and what I would still be doing that right now, dragging that kid out of the hammock he fell asleep in, with his reprehensible attitude still seething out of his facial expressions, if it weren’t for the wisdom of my husband.
But what do I tell him when he wakes up? Do I reciprocate the problem? Do I remind him of his former crimes?
I will likely be tempted to. But I’m not sure that’s teaching my kid about the Gospel if I do that. You see, God never, ever in a bizillion years counts my former crimes against me. And sure, He wants the best for me, and the best is obviously to be a loving, helpful, dish-doing citizen of this global community and the Heavenly one, as well. But He is ever so much more gracious. When I fail, what does He do? Well, He lets Himself get nailed to a cross? Yes, He keeps right on teaching me wisdom to have more success at loving folks in the future, through His Spirit and that tremendous Book written long ago. But when I’m failing, He convicts me with love and compassion and moves on.
In fact, I’m always surprised and overwhelmed at the types of folks that God chose for His kingdom. It’s like He walked into an orphanage and said, “Give me your worst. I want the kids with the worst track records, the greatest emotional damage. I want the kids that’ll spit in my face and punch everyone in sight. Give me those guys. I’m gonna love the snot out of them!” I know I’m one of those kids. If you don’t believe me, check out Luke 7:36-50. It’s a mind-blow.
So, how do I implement these Christ-tactics and principles into parenting today? I’m not quite sure yet, but one thing I know, I will be praying for the wisdom until that boy wakes up. And as I’m likely reminding him that he still has a pile of dishes and recycling to sort, I’d like to think that I will be hugging him with all that love welling up in my heart and pouring out over my countenance. Because, by golly, Jesus loves me like that… and better.