Yesterday morning didn't go well around here. The only reason the afternoon went better was that I had several errands to run and was out of the house.
The whole morning was focused on what was going wrong around here. Let me rephrase that...I spent the whole morning focusing on what the kids were doing wrong around here. And when you have eleven children living at home, there are a lot of folks who can do a lot of sinning.
There's a problem with that last thought. In our home, there are perpetually a lot of folks who sin. Every day there are eleven children living here. So what made yesterday morning worse than any other morning?
Me. Me. Me. Me.
I was critical.
I was on a hunt. I wanted to "solve" the issues in our home--like messes left where they shouldn't be and children not focused on their schooling when they should be. And, of course, the axiom is true--when you look for the worst in people, you'll find it.
I ended up spending the entire morning in my bathroom, the correcting spot in our home, that place to which our children dread being summoned. Yesterday, I'd correct one child, step out of the bathroom and spy the next wrongdoer in action. Then we'd start all over again.
I was forgetful
In the midst of all the sin going on in our house, I forgot something utterly important--I'm a sinner, too. I forgot how easily I stumble and slip and slide my way into doing what I know to be wrong. And when I forgot yesterday morning, pride simmered quietly inside me. This is the kind of pride that feeds thoughts like, "Not this again!" "I've corrected you for this same issue _____ times, and you've done it AGAIN?!?" "I can't believe you'd treat me--your mother--this way!"
Oh, they were just quiet thoughts. They didn't get spoken yesterday. But because I forgot that I'm a sinner, too, these ugly, haughty thoughts, and others like them, were somewhere inside me fueling sinful disgust with my children.
I was Resistant
Because I became so easily focused on my children's sin and so forgetful of my own, I resisted doing things God's way. I didn't even come close to living what Paul says in these three power-packed verses yesterday morning:
"Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." (Ephesians 4:1,2 NASB)As I've already said, I wasn't humble yesterday morning. When humility departed so did gentleness of spirit and patience and tolerance.
And without the meek, long-suffering, tolerance borne of love necessary to being a godly mom, I also resisted using my tongue as God commands:
"Let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up, that it might benefit those who listen." (Ephesians 4:29 NIV)I've learned it takes work to find things I can say to each child that builds that child up. I've also learned that the effort necessary pays off in a thousand sweet ways. However, yesterday I wasn't willing to work at encouraging my children. In my place of quiet, destructive pride, I viewed my kids as unworthy of the effort it takes to build them up and encourage them. This was rebellion against my God. What irony! Numerous times yesterday morning I corrected a child for rebelling against me.
I was Wrong
How do I make today different?
First, I confess to God my sins of yesterday. I get humble by remembering how often I "mess up".
Second, I seek the forgiveness of the kiddos I hurt and offended.
Third, I obey the Lord. He is all-wise and knows how a group of people--like moms and their children--can function well together. He has shared the secrets to peace in the home in His Word. Today, I'm determined to obey God.
I'm going to offer my kids the grace I withheld yesterday. I'm going to look for everything I can find to offer praise to them. The smallest tidbit of right behavior on their part will work.
I'm going to tell them thanks for helping no matter how minimal the effort is on their part.
I'm going to tell them where I see them maturing. I'm going to encourage them when I catch them interacting in a good manner with a sibling.
I'm going to tell my kids repeatedly that I love them--whether they do right or wrong.
I'm going to embrace all of them. I'm going to tickle the little ones. And the older ones? I'm going to place my hand on their shoulder in a way that says, "You're a blessing from God."
I will do all this utterly, fully dependent on God to provide strength and endurance to this perpetually tired mom.
A Better Morning
I'm thankful to God for a new morning with new mercies. I can start over. I can lavish love on my kids. I was a forgetful mother yesterday, but I'm determined to remember today.
I'm going to remember that over the course of several painful years I've learned that when my children get encouraged rather than torn down by their mom--the best comes out of them. I don't need to correct nearly so much. How could I have forgotten so easily yesterday?