I am utterly amazed at the ways in which God has worked change and growth in my heart, via lessons I’ve learned from observing my children. Usually, the first time around, I’ll think, “wow, I hope L. and A. really ‘get it’ next time and learn from that mistake”. After letting an incident steep in my heart for a while, I realize that I needed that lesson as much as or more than they did!
This week’s lesson began on our way to pick up my mommy-mobile from the car dealer, where it had undergone some repairs. (The repairs could be in a category of their own on this blog, but I digress.) Little A. and I had picked up L. from school, played on the playground for a decent amount of time, and then we made the ten minute ride from school to the car dealer. As we drove, everything that A. said or did annoyed L. very much, and he was very vocal about it. I knew he was hungry, and I should have given him a snack at the playground, but had forgotten. Normally, I allow eating in our vehicle, but today we were in a loaner, which happened to be brand new, with barely 100 miles on it. I was hoping to keep it spotless. When L. is hungry, I see myself reflected so clearly. Reason goes out the window, answers get snippy, and nothing is quite right.
Even with that in mind, I attempted to reason with him. I took the really high road and ventured to say that God would use little A. in L.’s life perhaps more than anyone else to help him develop patience and cheerfulness. He groaned; he just wanted silence and a snack. Then, I asked him if he trusted God to work in A.’s heart. “Yes,” he replied. I asked him if he trusted God to work in his own heart. “Yes,” he replied, but he went on to say, “but A. needs all the work, not me!” Ouch. I cringed, feeling like he was totally missing the point. By this time, we had reached our destination, so I just asked the kids for pledges of patience and cooperation while we went inside to pay for the repairs, get the car seats back into our SUV, and head home.
We made it home and through the rest of the evening with no other major discussions. Dinner does smooth things over quite nicely. As in the past, I took a little longer to digest our conversation in the car. As quick as I was to judge my little boy for his pride and arrogance in suggesting that his heart needed no work, I was equally slow to realize that I had misjudged my own heart.
One by one, illumination filled my mind, and I began to recall things I had thought or said or did that I knew weren’t pleasing to God. There was selfishness, greed, fear, distrust, meanness, anger, and ungratefulness stamped on so many words or ideas. How many people had I considered to be in great need of God’s hand to work on them, while ignoring my own mess? It hurt to realize just how blind I can be.
I hope I can keep guiding my children as they grow as siblings and also as God’s beloved. I’m glad God used our conversation the other day to wake me up to my never-ending need for grace in my life. We all need it, but we must start in our own hearts.
“‘Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?'” (Luke 6:41)