“I don’t think Mom likes me.” These were the words spoken by my 9-year-old daughter to her big sister who was visiting from college. “ Why don’t you think Mom likes you?” was her response. “Because she gets mad at me.” “Why does she get mad at you?” “Because I lie.” And there you have it…a daughter’s confession that stopped me in my tracks.
The 9-year-old has been going through some major story fabricating as of late. Nothing is EVER her fault, she is always quick to blame another culprit (typically the brother just ahead of her on the age spectrum), and can’t seem to keep her stories straight. This has been causing me, her mama, some angst as I wrestle with what to believe and what not to believe, and trying to get her to see that lying is not the way to go. On more than one occasion, I have let me voice get louder than it should, and I have not practiced that Fruit of the Spirit called patience. Fathers (mothers), do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. (Colossians 3:21). My poor daughter was discouraged by me, and that saddened my mama heart.
We go through our days…intent on getting our “to-do” list accomplished, intent on achieving in the workplace, intent on making sure the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed. We are intent on teaching our kids to have good values and a strong moral fiber, loving Jesus and following his word. The question I find myself asking is…as intent as we are on teaching them right from wrong, are we just as intent on showing them grace and teaching them about forgiveness?
I had been so focused on the lies, that I wasn’t looking at the bigger picture of what I could teach my child:
#1 – That my love for her was bigger than any lie she could tell.
#2 – That making mistakes is okay. We just need to be honest about them.
So I had a talk with this precious child. I assured her that I like her, regardless of her misbehavior. And I explained to her that the truth is always better than a lie. I might get upset about something she does wrong, but I get far more upset about the lie. So we made a deal, sealed with a fistbump, that I would work on not getting so angry if she would work on being more honest. And like He always is, God was listening to that conversation. Right away, He challenged me to live up to my promise. We had only been home a few minutes when I noticed something had happened in the microwave causing a huge mess. I questioned her about it and I could see the little wheels turning in her head. To lie or to tell the truth…that was the question. Would mama really do what she promised? (After all, we fistbumped and everything, so that must mean she would.). I patiently waited for an answer as I watched her struggle within herself. Then, miracle of miracles, she confessed to making the mess.
Now it was my turn to struggle. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. I was tempted to get angry. I was tempted to revert back to my old way of handling situations. But I wasn’t tempted to the point that I couldn’t respond differently. God gave me a way out. He gave me an opportunity to react in a way that solidified the promise I had made to her earlier. He gave me a way out that demonstrated love and grace. He gave me a way out that honored that ceremonial fistbump. I looked at that darling girl, and I smiled. I told her that accidents happen and we laughed about it. I saw her sigh of relief as she came to the realization that owning up to your mistakes isn’t as bad as it sounds. As for me, I was so relieved to hear her answer honestly. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. (3 John 1:4)
I hope and pray that this is a lesson she will carry throughout her life. I know I will. We try so hard to teach our children, and then we are amazed when they, in turn, teach us so much. When you are walking through the uncertainties of motherhood, when you are struggling with negative behaviors in your children, it can seem so difficult and so frustrating. But our God is so much bigger than all of the frustration and all the difficulties. He will use those moments to teach us…about our children and about ourselves.
What is God teaching you today? How is He using your children to mold you and shape you into who He desires you to be? Are you in need of a fistbump moment with your child…a moment where you can come to an agreement on a situation and find your middle ground? Let God guide you to and through those moments. Trust Him to give you opportunities to demonstrate love and grace to your children, and by doing so, teaching them valuable lessons that will last a lifetime.