Let's Talk.... "The Law of Kindness"

I was going to blog about the 18-list for today. But it must wait. My heart is being pricked and I feel compelled to share my misery.....


A Bad Morning Story


It is a cold and rainy Monday morning. I wake up with a whole family of 6 sleeping in my room. It is impossible to walk to the bathroom without stepping on child-sized appendages. Three of four kids are sick (now: make that 4 of 4 plus mommy). I hadn’t planned to send the girls to school. But this sickness isn’t the raging-fever kind. It’s more of the red, leaky noses and sick, droopy eyes kind. The kind that make it hard to decide whether they should go to school. But the more I thought about a kindergartner with low grades on her phonics tests and a 2nd grader with parts to memorize for the Christmas play, the more I thought maybe I should make them rough it, droopy noses and eyes and all.


So the day begins.


Handsome husband, calm, rested & smooth, takes a long hot shower. Crisp hair. Crisp clothes. Smooth jaw. Eats his cereal while reading the news. Leaves promptly at 7:30....the usual time....without the girls. They are not ready at the usual time because of the whole sickness-indecision-thing. But he thinks they should go to school because they’ve missed a lot. (My mommy-gut disagrees, but I go on...)


So Then there’s me...braid hanging. Skirt and shirt that don’t match. Ugly eyes propped open with toothpicks after yet another night chopped with baby feedings, wet beds, lost pacifiers, restless sleepers. I begin the delightful process of dressing, feeding, managing four with very few minutes to get out the door.


Karissa’s sock line won’t line up and there’s a BUMP on the corner of her sock!!! Her shoe hurts. She absolutely cannot eat her cereal unless she is sitting by baby Corin.


Kayla is lost in wonder-world somewhere as she moves to the rhythm of her own cabassa. And she INSISTS those are not the socks she laid out last night. The socks she laid out did NOT have a flower on them!


Caiden (happy, dancing, love-giving boy) is a TERROR! His nose is “stuck.” Two of his favorite blankies are peed-on. He had a rough night. He is Not. A. Happy. Camper.


Corin is beginning the twist-and-grunt routine that means the starving-baby screaming is about to begin.



Thank goodness for the nightly habit of laying out clothes and planning lunches. We manage school uniforms and cereal bowls and phonics practice and long hair and hungry babies. Me getting to the end-of-my-rope-very-quickly. Me barking orders. Me starting to feel frustration mount. Me feeling resentful of smooth-and-handsome-husband who drove to school alone this morning. (Although he did deal with necessary discipline of sin-born 3-year-old boy before leaving.)


Grab 50-pound-carseat with 30-pound infant. Open the door and realize there is an icy-cold rain. Sigh. Zip coats. Worry about asthma girl. This day is an asthma attack waiting to happen. (And we all know that 7-year-old girls with asthma are at the top of the H1N1 high-risk list.) Hoods up. Hand car keys to kids.


Then the inevitable. Caiden’s bones turn to mush. He is now a screaming mess of boneless 3-year-old tissue writhing on my kitchen floor. I get baby and girls to car. And return to administer necessary discipline to boneless screaming boy.



Then the convicting quiet of the rainy 3-minute drive to school. I urge the girls to “GET. OUT. OF. THE. VAN!” a little too forcefully. Feel guilty for not writing tardy note for office. Refuse to go into school with mismatched clothes and toothpick eyes. Drive home while 3-year-old cries that he wants to go to Grandmas. He doesn’t want to be with me, he wants to be with grandma, he says. Repeatedly.


Tears squeeze out of my tired, ugly toothpick-propped eyes and onto my unmatched shirt.


And the WORD, living in me even when it hurts, reminds me of one of my favorite passages and life-goal.


"She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness."  Proverbs 31:26


Shoulders sag with reality and conviction. There may have been law on my lips this morning. But I’m not sure I heard much kindness.


This conviction is not just that of a rushed and frustrating morning. Our mornings are not always like that. Most mornings the girls walk out the door at 7:30 with uniforms and hair and smiles and the boys and I quietly begin our day.


But this law of kindness thing has been working on me.


I believe in parental authority. Obedience is necessary, we say around here. And our kids were born with sinful tendencies. It is my job to train them. (The NIV translation of Proverbs 31:26 says "faithful instruction is on her tongue.)


But sometimes I have noticed that when I instruct.  And when they disobey. When they create a delightful disaster zone in the living room and whine obnoxiously as they pick up the mess. I don’t always have a gentle tongue.


As my tongue trains, it sometimes sounds more angry or hard than it needs to.


I understand there is a delicate balance here. There are times when this brood of kids needs to be disciplined and instructed very strongly. And I’m a high-energy mom with high-energy kids. We talk and move and play and work with high energy. But sometimes I cross the line.


I have been convicted that necessary training and discipline does not give me license to talk harshly. I must be firm. But gentle. I long for authority and kindness at once.


I’m not talking about raging, screaming, abusive fits. I’m talking about the exact edge I put into my tone and my face when things get really crazy. Letting my face say, “I’m frustrated and angry.” Instead of: “You must abide by the standards of God’s Word and this home and I’m here to help you do that.”



Bottom line: I must have the law of kindness in my tongue. Always. Every day. Especially on cold, rainy, sick-kid, sick-baby sick-mommy  mornings.


This isn’t rocket science. But I long for God to grow me up even more. This law applies to dinner-table talk and husband-wife talk and every other kind of talk.


I will never be a honey-dripping, quiet-faced, never-ruffled mother. But Oh, Dear Father, forgive me.  And please don’t quit reminding me and reproving me when my tongue edges away from kindness.


So Caiden and I curled up on the couch, sang a Christmas-song book that he chose, and then took a nap together. (Did you know that naps help tongues and faces of tired, sick mommies?)



Post Script :: The end of this story is not a fairy tale.  I did not blog and confess and walk away magically more patient and perfect.  Last night was one of the worst parenting nights I can recall.  But my heart is fixed.  My ear is turned.  My spirit is open for His refining power in my life. And my kids are good at reminding me, too - in their own ways.  Some of this is heart work.  Some of it is grunt work.  The Word speaks light.... the Spirit instructs, then expects me to apply discipline to instruction.  Thank God for new days. And thank You, merciful Father, for accepting my tears of repentance.







**********


So...what spankings have you gotten lately? Where is the Holy Spirit growing you up and Into Him? Care to share?


1. Write about your Up-Growing on your blog.
2. Put the direct link to that post into the next number below.
3 . Let us come and learn from what you’re learning!

Comments

Carrie said…
Oh wow. The anvil of conviction just dropped from an unknown origin onto my head, smashing me into a 3 foot, Wile E. Coyote-shaped hole in the desert floor.

This is probably my #1 weakness (right up there with my OTHER #1 weaknesses of impatience, mercilessness and gavel pounding).

I find myself repeatedly saying, "If you would've done it when I asked you nicely, I wouldn't have to ask you to do it so meanly," yet their kindness-exuding father rarely has trouble getting them to comply.

Heavens to Betsy, they've become immune to their flapping, squawking mother. sigh. I hate what I've become, since chickens not only flap and squawk, but are also very stinky.

Is there hope? I don't know. Maybe. God has dropped the anvil on me (aptly named "Sarah's Blog"), but He has also given me a glimmer of hope that all is not lost (also coincidentally named "Sarah's Blog").

You're not alone (which also means I'm not alone, which in itself is a little comforting). You're just so much faster of a learner than I. Thanks so much for this post, even if it did leave a tall, red bump on my noggin (complete with little songbirds flying in circles around it.)
skier1998 said…
Sarah, I enjoyed reading your post. It allowed me to see what I have to look forward to in years to come. :-) A verse that has been running through my head is Proverbs 15:1, "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." At some point in correcting a 19 month and disciplining her for the zillionth time (for the same thing) - I tend to have an "edge" in my voice, too. Great reminders. Thanks for sharing. :-) Blog on.
Laura said…
Beautiful post, Sarah. There is such beauty in a contrite heart. That's what it's all about isn't it! We'll always be growing in some area, and it isn't ever an ugly thing when it is colored by the beauty of "life" coming from "death"... our bumbles keeping us in touch with our constant need of Him and his transforming power! Bless you, my friend!
Alanna said…
Sarah, I so appreciate your transparency and honesty. While I don't have kids, I do teach 3 - 5 year olds at church, and work with people at Panera, and converse with classmates - may God help me to speak and teach with a "soft" voice. Thank you so much for this reminder.
Jana said…
Oh Sarah...I can't tell you how much this post spoke to me today!!! As the mother of four, about the same age and gender as yours, I can SOOOO relate!!! As I read this I caught myself thinking, "that's me, that's me".

I (again) had to make apologies to a couple of children before tucking them into bed tonight!! Such a work in progress. Seems at times this "mommy thing" gets harder every day... But, wouldn't trade my job for the world!!! What a faithful God!!!

Keep Writing!!! :-)
Janella said…
sarah~thanks so much for sharing. Last week I had a very bad parenting day! The Lord was very faithful to "spank" me. The area of discipline was an absolute, but...the way I took care of it was so wrong. I broke Jenna's spirit and instantly knew I was SO wrong. We have a lot to learn but I am so glad we have Him to lead us. More than anything I want to help shape my kids into the image of Him!! I have to show Him to them! God help me. Thanks so much for sharing it is encouraging to know that other mommy's are facing these battles. Makes me feel a little "normal"
Andy said…
much conviction!
Liz said…
I've been convicted about this too. Thanks for sharing some hope and resolve with me!
Jenn said…
God has been speaking/spanking me about this very issue lately. Thank you for sharing! I really appreciate you transparency.
The Salisburys said…
Thank you, thank you! I so appreciated this post. Sometimes I feel like I am the only "Christian" mother who has difficulties in this area. Thank you for your candid honesty. It helps more people than you probably know! Blessings!
Beth Stetler said…
I'm crying. The blog post and your comments are so poignant. I have been/sometimes am still there. Hang on, girls. It was/is hard work if you do it right. But, it MUST be done right. My kids are mostly raised (20 and 17). So, far, so good. Trusting God for their futures. Correct and Godly parenting is my passion.
matannjess said…
I love your posts. they are so real.
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