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A couple of months ago, my husband and I were working the toddler nursery at church. We were in our younger son's class and right next door to our older son's room. A few times we heard shrill screams that sounded all too familiar and my husband even looked next door once to make sure we didn't need to pull our oldest into our class (he was playing quietly when he checked).
After church I asked one of the ladies working his class how Isaac had been. She graciously told me that he had not wanted to share the trains at the train table. After several warnings they told him that they were going to put the trains away if he didn't share. He decided not to heed that warning and the trains were put away (I'm pretty sure I know which scream corresponded with THAT part of the story!)
Though she was as sweet as possible about it all and reassured me that it was just fine, I felt the blood rush to my face as she told me all that had happened. I was embarrassed. I didn't want my child to be THAT kid. I didn't want to look like the mother who didn't have a good handle on parenting.
Thoughts came rushing into my head, "What does she think of me now?" "How many times has this happened when I haven't been next door to hear the screams?" "What am I doing wrong? How do other people get their kids to share so well?"
You know what didn't cross my mind?
Or his heart.
I find it easy to pour my hopes and dreams into my boys and then feel totally embarrassed when they don't do what I've taught them. Instead of being concerned about the condition of their heart in the matter and desiring to lovingly show them the error of their ways, I worry about myself. What?!?
As it turns out, Isaac can be extremely pleasant as well. It's not unusual for me to receive a compliment on his behavior either. Catch him on the right day and he's polite, generous and downright good natured!
On those days that I receive a pat on the back for the "good job" I'm doing, I find myself begin to swell with pride. I must be doing it right. I feel a sense of accomplishment and it puts a spring in my step.
You know what doesn't cross my mind?
Or his heart.
Why, oh why, when I invest so much of my blood, sweat, tears, prayers and love into these boys is the main thing ME when it comes down to it? (I think the answer is obviously my stinkin' sin nature...)
I'm asking the Lord for grace to help me look outside myself more. To be more concerned about the condition of my boys' hearts than how I look when it's not pretty. To give HIM the glory when things go well and cling to him when it doesn't.
A dear woman from our church said to me, not too long after the train incident, that one thing she wishes she had realized sooner as a mom was that her children were not trophies. They were not prized possessions intended to draw attention to her exemplary parenting. That struck a chord with me. All too often I slip into the mindset that my worth is directly related to my "success" as a parent. Being a mom is what I do. If I don't do it well, then what am I good for? How do I measure my success? All too often by how well my little "trophies" behave.
When God reveals to me the arrogance of my heart, I'm always so thankful that I can fall back on grace. Thank goodness that I don't have to do this perfectly to live a life that honors him. Thank goodness that his Holy Spirit works in our hearts to show us the error of our ways and shift our mindset toward him and the glory of His Name!
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