Matt and I are continually trying to instill the thinking within in our children that it is important to clean up after yourself. We talk about having responsibility for your things, your space, your messes, your chores, your attitudes and your hygiene. Often the responses rendered are, a shoulder shrug, a surprised face, apathy or the statement, “Who is coming over to visit?” Frustration and anger are my typical rebuttal, followed by the mini sermon, “The way we say thank you to God for the abundance of gifts He has given us in material possessions, bedrooms, vehicles, food, clothing, dishes, living spaces and health is by taking good care of them. Treating these blessings with respect, and paying careful attention to their care is one way we exemplify our gratitude.”
This morning, our six year old, baby boy, looked up at me with his saucer size brown eyes and asked me to cuddle with him. We sat down on the corner seat of our black, leather couch. I scratched his back as he lay his head on my lap, covered in the quilt my late, Granny King made for me. Scratching his back, he asked me, “How many more years before I leave for college?” Answering that he had Twelve years left, he then asked me how many years Caden had left. I told him, “Caden has Nine more years.” Finally, he asked, “How many years does Addison have left?” I choked out two more words… “Six years.”
In that frozen moment, the Holy Spirit began whispering to me…How are you doing with the gifts I have given to you? Are you treating them with patience, respect, love, careful attention? Are you listening when they speak? Are you teaching with love or exasperation? Are you serving with gratitude or resentment? In your presence, are they experiencing more of me or more of you? Are you casting guilt and manipulation or empathy and instruction?
I am equally flawed and depraved as the next person. Not too long ago, one of the adults (and personal friend) volunteering in our children’s ministry at church, began poking at me about the stories she heard about me after confessing her own personal story of mom failure to the class. She was teaching about anger and how it was contrary to the fruit of the Spirit. She proceeded to share how she has occasionally yelled or slammed a door when interacting with her children. The Holy Spirit convicted her of her behavior, instructing her to put on patience and love and throwing off anger and frustration. Concluding her lesson, one of my boys eagerly raised his hand and shared how his mom has also done those things at home. My friend and I laughed. I said, “See, you have proof of my desperate need for Jesus.” “Me too,” she replied.
Here’s to giving more gifts of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. And for crying out loud…people putting things where they belong;)
“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.” Philippians 3:12