The mornings are becoming a challenge at home…and even the afternoons are proving to be a little difficult. I am noticing a serious thread of negativity plague this home of ours, and it is bothering me. It’s also very hard to not give in to the negativity and turn into a very crabby woman.
Unfortunately, I’ve struck a nerve and irritated the oldest boy, who also happens to be my stepson. I imagine he’s thinking he didn’t sign up for this, and while several weeks back he jokingly called me the wicked witch of the west, it seems the funny has wore off. He is not happy with all of the rules, and all of the reminders to do his homework and be to class on time. For as much as I thought I was prepared for these moments, and for as much as I thought I knew they were coming, these mornings are wearing me thin.
The complaints range from very small ones, to lots of large and whiny ones. And it seems like there is always a legitimate complaint wrapped in the mess of a million ridiculous ones. And the little boys are picking up on it, and before I can get them all out the door, I have three boys who are knit-picking each other, the house, the Christmas tree and my sanity.
And I want to join them! I want to express, with as much exasperation, all of my complaints… like clothes on the bathroom floor, messy rooms, missing homework assignments, wet towels hidden behind bedroom doors, messy hair, bad breath, mismatched socks, cutting up our clothes with scissors (I mean, seriously?!), and the list grows. And soon, I’m brooding, and I’m one whiny-boy complaint away from biting off their heads and yelling all the way to school.
I am horribly out numbered in the mornings, but please don’t let the boys know that. I can, for the most part, command silence, even when I don’t always have the answer for turning the attitudes around. But I heard a challenge…like the Holy Spirit beckoning me to do something specific with my attitude. A call, or a challenge to, in the midst of these hard mornings, and for the quiet part of the day after I’ve played taxi, to think about and dwell on the positive. What can each of these three boys do well? What unique talents do they possess? In what areas do they excel at school and home? When are they most helpful? Most hopeful?
Sure, it’s our job as parents to correct improper behavior, and to remind our youngsters to clean up after themselves, and say please and thank you, and to help them remember all of those manners. It’s also our job to encourage them. In fact, the bible says in Ephesians 6:4 – “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” And in Colossians 3:21 – “Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.” I think this applies to me right now, even though I’m not Dad. If I join in, or intentionally push their buttons because they are pushing mine, I’m not bringing them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. In fact, it says I am discouraging them. And I’ve met enough discouraging people in my life to make me realize just how badly they affect all of the people around them.
So today, as I pray for these boys, my heart’s cry is that the Lord will open my eyes and help me be an encourager. I pray that God will help me find 100 positive things about each of these boys for every 1 negative. I pray that I have the strength to endure the bad attitudes, and contagious joy that will help them overcome this negativity, too. I pray that God will reveal practical ways for me to guide them and correct them when they are being negative, so that they can learn to live peaceably.
Will you take this challenge with me?