Parenting has to be the hardest job to do on this earth. I think we make it harder than it needs to be. God gave us the example to follow. We are His children, and he’s the Father. The way He loves us is the way we are to love our children. It is very simple if we are good followers and abide in Him. But we stand in our own puddle of selfishness and lose sight of the ocean of His love, guidance and protection.
I remember when Jordan came along, a wrinkly little infant always in my arms, crying, and getting more “hold you time” than the two and a half year old Donny. Up to that point I thought I was an amazing parent. But when Donny experienced jealousy, I had an entirely different matter on my hands to manage and I had no clue what to do.
Then a few years later when they could communicate with words rather than punches, shoves, grunts and cries, they began to fight. I thought I would lose my mind. How could the two people that God gave me to raise in our family hate each other? Why was it always a competition, a struggle, and a contest. I remember stomping my feet and hollering, “Can we all just get along here?”
By the time we had four little boys wrestling on the floor in what seemed like play, but was really life or death to them, Craig and I had established a firm line in our family that they dare not cross. There will be no freedom to speak ugly to a brother. Not one word. And attitude counted, if the right words were said with a stinky tone, they had to apologize, adjust or face unwelcome consequences. I was the guard of the “line”. This meant they were hardly ever alone without me policing their words. It was exhausting and tedious and they often wore me out.
I’m sure if I think about it, this is what God is doing for us Christians when we are not getting along. He’s God and we can’t wear him out, but we can cross the line and face consequences we might have been wise to avoid. And that’s how we learn. Proverbs says, “fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” I’m frankly afraid of what God will do with me when I cross his line, so it’s best to follow.
While raising our polar opposite boys we held the line of love, honor, and respect with our words. The consequences were swift and sure. I didn’t give warnings or make threats. Sometimes that meant I yanked them out of the grocery store with a full basket in the middle of the aisle. Or a fun plan would be cancelled on the spot. No second chances. I meant it when I said “careful what you say.” They simply paid the price right then and there until pretty soon, I realized I was putting out less fires. When they got older the consequence was they had to kiss on the lips in public. (still is) And then after a little while longer, they in fact really liked to be together. Now I know for sure, they count the best times as when we are all together. Our dinner table is rich with laughter, sharing, and listening. We disagree and discuss, but we don’t argue. I’d say it was worth policing that line when they were young. (I might also add, the children have never once heard Craig and I raise our voice at each other, or argue. Good modeling drives home the lesson.)
To my friends who have little ones in their families, and to Christians who can’t get along, toe the line and expect swift consequences to be handed out when it is crossed.Our every word is heard, and they matter. In fact, they make all the difference.