Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.
Yesterday was one of “those” days.
With five kids, ranging from ages seven to fourteen, there are bound to be “those” days. I’ll be the first to confess that we have good kids. Like, really good kids. But they’re still kids, and because they’re human, they sin just like everyone else. One of the things I’ve learned as a parent is that patience really is a virtue.
I learned early on that babies and children are reactionary. They’re extremely intuitive, so if my mood was off or I was frustrated, they became moody or frustrated too. My husband and I aren’t what we call “crisis panickers.” We both have level heads and are good when things get tense. Having peaceful spirits and tempers has paved the way for a peaceful household. For the most part. We’re both human too.
We are fearfully and wonderfully made…
The mind and body are magnificently created. We don’t always understand our feelings or emotions, or the way we might react, but God understands. He’s the builder and creator. And He knows our innermost thoughts and feelings long before we do.
I’d already had a sleepless night. You see, the kids were leaving for summer camp for a week. The older two girls have been going to Pine Cove camp for several years now. If you’ve never heard of it, I highly recommend it. The staff has a heart for children and most importantly, they have a heart for God.
I wasn’t worried about the girls. But my boys, who are seven and eight, have never slept away from their own beds. They’ve never been away from a parent or grandparent for a night. I started rethinking the decision to send them to camp. They’re just babies for Pete’s sake. How would they get along without us all week? And what if they didn’t have fun?
Don’t Let Your Heart Be Troubled…
Other moms know the worries that were going through my mind that caused the sleepless night. Dads don’t really get it. I guarantee the second my husband reads this he’ll be like, “Relax, woman. It’s just a week.” Yeah, well, my brain knows that. But sometimes my heart is louder than my brain.
I know I have nothing to worry about. They’ll have a great week, make friends, and strengthen their relationship with Christ. That doesn’t dispute the feeling of sadness as I watch my children get older and more independent, and seeing a future where they’ll one day go off on their own for good.
All of these worries manifested by the time I crawled out of bed. Besides the lack of sleep and the worry, the daunting task of getting four kids packed and organized was enough to have my head pounding. With all of that going on, the two teenage girls decided it was a good day to snipe and argue with each other, one of the boys decided it was a good day to have a bad attitude and forget he’d been raised with manners, and another of our boys decided to tell me, “I hate my life.” At which point I felt the top of my head explode just like you see on cartoons.
Scott decided at that point it’d be a good time to take the boys out of the house and go get haircuts, and I’d take the girls and go get the rest of the camp supplies. Once we got everyone out of the house and in the right cars, and I watched the boys drive away, I just laid my head down on the steering wheel and closed my eyes for a minute. This was not how I wanted to spend the last day with the kids. And it wasn’t how I wanted them to spend their last day with me.
The Peace That Passes Understanding…
It was that moment that I prayed for peace, not within my household, but within me. It was my attitude that needed to change. It was me who was without patience. It was me who was struggling with hurt from a disrespectful child and another who said he hated his life. It was me who needed to pray and ask God for patience. To be slow to speak and slow to anger. To spend time understanding they might have worries just as I did, and it was possible their attitude was not only a reflection of their own worry, but mine as well.
My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.
I gave the girls a sheepish smile and apologized for being short with them all afternoon. It’s amazing what a hug and forgiveness from your children can do for the soul. Something I promised myself I’d do when I had children is apologize to them if I was wrong about something.
Those teaching moments are precious, and having children that understand how to apologize when they’re wrong and ask forgiveness is something they’ll take through school, into their marriages, and when they have their own children. Being able to say, “I’m sorry,” is necessary for forgiveness, from those we’ve wronged and from God. How many times have I been on my knees in prayer and had to say the words, “I’m sorry?” But his hand of forgiveness on my shoulder brings peace that passes understanding.
Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
Do you have any tips for being a patient parent?