Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Leading by example

"Do you know why I asked you to read that?"

I was met with silence, as they contemplated whether they should say what they were really thinking.

You see, so far this morning hadn't been going well. It all started with a marital spat over chores. Once my hubby left for work, I thought I had settled it all--prayed for God to change my heart, resolved to handle the situation with humility and grace instead of spite and defensiveness (my default responses). I took a deep breath and got ready for the rest of the day. Or so I thought.

But things didn't magically turn around from there. I got overwhelmed by housework. I realized that my big kids had never emptied yesterday's camp bags of dirty towels, bathing suits, etc, and the bags were a soggy mess. I was also trying to get myself and Roo ready for a meeting we have this afternoon with medical students. (More on that in a future post.) Stress and tension began to rule the morning.

And then at breakfast, I was multitasking, unloading the dishwasher in between whipping up bowls of oatmeal and Cheerios. And I turned around and saw that Roo had dumped his oatmeal bowl ALL.OVER.HIMSELF.

And I lost it.

I yelled, I stomped, I may even have growled. I'm not sure. It's a little foggy exactly what happened in that moment. But I wasn't happy, and EVERYONE knew it.

For the rest of the morning the kids walked on eggshells, but it wasn't enough. I yelled at them for not getting ready fast enough, for not picking up their dirty laundry, for losing sunscreen, even for asking to go to the bathroom ("Just GO already! For goodness sake!"). It really wasn't one of my better moments.

And finally, we were in the van, and I think the big kids were as much looking forward to a break from me as they were to spending another day at camp.

I took a deep breath, and asked Lamb if I could borrow her Bible. I opened it to I Corinthians 13, and asked her to read the first 8 verses.

Suppose I speak in the languages of human beings and of angels. If I don’t have love, I am only a loud gong or a noisy cymbal. Suppose I have the gift of prophecy. Suppose I can understand all the secret things of God and know everything about him. And suppose I have enough faith to move mountains. If I don’t have love, I am nothing at all. Suppose I give everything I have to poor people. And suppose I give my body to be burned. If I don’t have love, I get nothing at all.

Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not want what belongs to others. It does not brag. It is not proud. It is not rude. It does not look out for its own interests. It does not easily become angry. It does not keep track of other people’s wrongs.

Love is not happy with evil. But it is full of joy when the truth is spoken. It always protects. It always trusts. It always hopes. It never gives up.

Love never fails.

"Do you know why I asked you to read that?"

After the initial uncomfortable silence, Lamb spoke up, "Because you were kind of grumpy this morning?"

That's an understatement. "Was I patient and kind this morning?"

They shook their heads.

"Did I get angry easily?"

They nodded.

"I didn't do a very good job of showing you love, did I?"

Let's just say they agreed with my assessment. And that's not even mentioning the other things I did in my mind and heart that they didn't directly witness. Pretty much every phrase in that passage hit home.

"What should I do now?"

So I got the answer to my prayer from earlier that morning... I was quite humbled. I told the kids that I needed to ask forgiveness from them and from God. I apologized and asked them all--even Roo--to forgive me for the way I behaved. Then they listened as I prayed and asked God to forgive my words and actions, and most importantly, the attitude of my heart. I admitted that I didn't have the strength to be all of the things that love is, and asked Him to be my strength.

Hopefully as they grow up, it's the second example that I set that they'll remember, not the first.

Thank you, God, for humbling me. Thank you for your forgiveness and your grace. I'll probably need them again later today... and again after that... and again after that... and, well, you get the idea.


Kathleen w said...

Often our kids learn more through our mistakes than through all the lessons we set out to teach. Good job, Katy!

Kathleen w said...

Often our kids learn more through our mistakes than through all the lessons we set out to teach. Good job, Katy!