Thursday, June 17, 2010

Hard lessons all around…

It’s tempting when you’re blogging to only tell the good stories – they’re a lot more fun to write about. And when things happen like 2 weeks ago – when I called Matt in the middle of the day just to cry because I was so tired of being screamed at, pushed, pulled, and climbed on by my precious 3 year old – I didn’t exactly stop to take pictures.

But I don’t want to present a one-sided view of our family. We are not perfect. And I am trying to learn that perfection (mine or my children’s) is not the goal. Good thing, since I’m typing this while T is in the bath – singing a pee-pee butt song at the top of his lungs. Just in case you’re wondering. :)

Also…while many of life’s best lessons are hard, and deeply embarrassing, I want to value the lesson itself – better to be embarrassed in your sin and unkindness than continue in it. And that’s as true for me as it is for my kids. So with that in mind… here are some hard lessons we’ve been learning:

Luke is a very good kid, and we love him just the way he is. However… when it comes to sensitivity, he didn’t come with a large helping. I knew that he would need to grow up in this area – but in many ways, it can be a strength. He’s not naturally fearful or intimidated, and he’s been totally unphased by people who scared the heck out of other kids early in school (the lunch ladies, for example.) I think particularly considering what he lived through in his early years, it’s a really good thing that he’s not a sensitive, easily bruised soul.

On the other hand… he’s learning what happens when you speak without being sensitive to others’ feelings. We’ve had two really hard and hurtful situations to work through with him in the last month. The first: he repeated something that was hurtful, resulting in a whole class full of boys laughing at one of the girls (and his first trip to the principal’s office, which made quite an impression). The second, he said something mean after baseball to one of the boys who’d had a rough game (conveniently forgetting that he’d struck out both times at bat in the same game himself.) We apologized (Luke, and Matt & I, since we know the parents involved in both situations), and I’m really hoping that he remembers how hurt his friends were in both cases. I’m actually praying specifically that he would remember the lesson far longer than either person remembers the hurt. I’m also praying that he’ll learn how to respond when he blows it – because I feel like I’ve spent my whole life concentrating all my effort on not blowing it, rather than learning how to respond well when the inevitable blowing it happens.

That’s probably where my hard lessons are coming in. I’ve known for a while that I’m hard on myself and want to always get everything “right”. But I’m just realizing the extent that I put this demand on my children (mostly Luke, since I don’t yet have that expectation of Tobin.) I really REALLY don’t want to teach him to expend all of his effort on being perfect, never blowing it, getting “it” right (whatever “it” is.) I want him to know the ONE who is perfect, and who has covered him completely. I want him to know that he doesn’t have to always get it right, because “Jesus paid it all.” Of course to experience God’s grace when you blow it, you have to blow it. And we all do. And to show grace to your children, you can’t be embarrassed when they blow it. Or surprised. Or angry.

I’ve been really encouraged by a book I’m reading right now, Grace-based Parenting, by Tim Kimmel. I’ve read a ton of Christian parenting books, but they so often have very good advice that unfortunately brings out the highly controlling, demanding parts of me (I’m sure the problem there is more with me than with the books, in most cases.) I feel like this book, rather than telling me what to do, is helping me to see my own heart. I’m not done with it yet, but so far here’s the bottom line I’m taking away: I’ve been working for a while from the premise that my #1 job as a parent is to teach my children to walk with Jesus and teach them right and wrong. I am now thinking that while those things are important, they’re not my #1 job. #1 is to love Jesus and experience His grace myself, and then to love my children and represent Jesus well to them. I feel a bit remedial even admitting that this is a huge realization for me – I really should already have known this. But it’s been very life-giving and encouraging. Even if at times there are have been hard lessons all around.