In the midst of this busy season I've seen my patience grow thinner and thinner and my reactions to situations grow exponentially more and more intense. Especially (and shamefully) with my children.
Don't they realize how much pressure my husband and I are under? Don't they realize how big a move is? How much work there is? How we really need a solid night's sleep in order to hold up under the weight of everything?
No. They don't.
Because they. are. children.
I've been re-reading Loving the Little Years by Rachel Jankovic (which I highly recommend if you have little ones in your home) in the tiny moments between packing, meltdowns, and dirty diapers. One chapter in particular struck me hard. Probably because I identified myself in what she was describing. And, probably because I didn't like myself when I realized it.
In chapter nine of her book she talks about the tendency of parents to stop seeing their children (and their sins) as individuals while in the midst of stressful situations. To suddenly lose sight of the individual child and see only the bigger (and oftentimes blurry and messy and ugly) picture. Yikes, right?
We all have situations in our lives. Many of these situations are heavy and can tend to consume our minds and lives. Our situation is that we are moving soon. The house is a continual wreck. There are boxes everywhere. Each day that passes is one day less that I have for packing.
What Rachel's book has helped me realize is that the situation we are in is not my children's fault. Of course there are still individual sin issues that I have to work through with my children, but the mere fact that we are moving and they are continuing to be children is NOT an excuse for me to unleash my frustrations on them! They did not choose to move. That was a decision my husband and I made together for our family. And, since we are the adults in this house, we are the ones who should be dealing with the stresses of moving.
By dealing with them, I don't mean unleashing our stresses onto them. I don't mean letting the tension mount until my daughter asks for a cup of milk while I am trying to finish packing a box and I turn to her in a harsh tone and say, "Just. A. Second. Already." My tone with her, the frustration she undoubtedly saw on my face, and the huge sigh/grumble at the end was a massive over-reaction in respect to the simple request she made. It is my responsibility as the adult to go to Jesus for the grace I need (because in these stressful situations I NEED to get grace to give grace) and to respond to her as an individual instead of as the situation. I should never put the burden of my ugly sin (over-reacting, speaking harshly, disciplining her from the perspective that I was tired of packing boxes and she was grating on my nerves with all the questions) on her tiny shoulders. She is a child. I am the adult.
Just as Jesus looks at me as an individual and not as a situation, so should I look at my children. Just as Jesus lovingly disciplines me, so should I lovingly discipline my children. Jesus does not get frustrated with me and unload heaps of disappointment and over-reactions and loud sighs on me to carry. NO! He does the exact opposite. Knowing that I cannot hold under the weight of my sin he takes it for me. What an example for me to follow. My children cannot and should not have to bear the weight of my overreactions.
This lesson has been a tough one for me. I am realizing over and over how graceful Jesus is to me daily. I am realizing how little grace I have shown my children daily.
I am so thankful that God's mercies are new every single morning. And, I am thankful above all for a loving God who shows me the areas of ugly sin I have in my life and then teaches me how to overcome them. I am learning that I have to daily go to Jesus for the grace I need with my kids. The grace I need to see them as an individual instead of as the situation.
Because of the LORD'S great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23