I wanted to drink my coffee uninterrupted.
I wanted to help my sister with something.
I wanted to have a conversation on the phone.
I wanted to put together birthday party invitations for my soon to be four-year-old.
I wanted to read my designated Bible verses for the day in peace.
Boys! Leave me alone! I'm trying to read my Bible verses!!!
You would think that was the moment I realized I was being a bad Mom, but yeah, it wasn't.
I mean, let me clarify something first. Nothing on that list of "wants" up there made me a bad Mom. It was not wrong for me to want or try to accomplish any of those things. What was wrong was that my wanting to get those things done made me impatient, intolerant, and irritable toward my two young sons. I even justified my attitude in my head with the fact that these things I was trying to do were good and necessary things.
"Brock! Stop trying to make me play some game you made up! I'm making your birthday party invitations!"
"Roman! I just want to drink my coffee without you throwing froot loops all over the floor!"
"Boys! Go play with each other in another room while I help your aunt with something!"
"Boys! Stop fighting with each other in the other room because I haven't finished what I'm doing!"
"I'm on the phone!"
"Eat your food!"
"Get out of the chair before you fall!"
"I'm sorry you fell, but I just told you to get out of the chair!"
"Go brush your teeth!"
"Stop talking back!"
"Go to bed!"
That's about how the day went. And every exclamation mark pretty much indicates a time I raised my voice or responded in anger. So I did a lot of yelling at my kids today. And sadly, I didn't even feel bad about it until a friend tagged me in a post on Instagram.
I was focused on myself, on what I wanted to accomplish for the day, on what my needs and desires were, and I responded to my children like they were hindrances and little problems put in my path to thwart every good plan I had. I'm pretty sure I told my sister at one point that I was trying not to strangle them (or maybe that was yesterday). I responded in anger and frustration at every childish annoyance. There was no grace. There was a lot of ignoring and then snapping. It wasn't good. I was selfish, and I realized later that day that worst of all I had hindered the effect of the Gospel on their hearts.
I did the exact opposite of what I'm supposed to do as a parent to these two boys.
I really realized it when I, with my new attitude of mercy and gentleness and peace, was giving them a bath and watching them play. When Roman took Brock's toy away, did Brock respond with the love and generosity the Gospel teaches us? Did he respond with patience toward his brother because he has seen that patience modeled toward him by his mom? Nope. Guess how he responded... With very loud, angry yelling.
And it hit me. Shelby, you taught him that. Rather than showing my children today, with my actions and my heart, a better way to react when we don't get our way, I taught them to get angry, to be hateful, to get irritated, and to voice that irritation loudly. Rather than look to God to help me show them patience and gentleness and humility, I served the god of Myself and taught them to do the same.
Thankfully, there is redemption for our mistakes, and there is grace for my weaknesses and my wrongs. I apologized to my oldest child right there in that bathroom and told him that I had been talking to him and his brother today (and really, for a while now) in a way that dishonors God and that is not kind. I told him that I was going to stop raising my voice in anger and that I wanted to be more patient and loving toward both of them. He responded with "Thank you for apologizing, Mommy," which is something I always tell him when he says he is sorry. Then, to my surprise, he actually turned and apologized to his little brother for yelling and offered to share the toys they were fighting over a moment earlier.
That is the Gospel working in my heart.
That is the Gospel working in the hearts of my children.
These two boys have been given to me as a gift, and I have the opportunity for a season to speak words and show actions that breathe life into their souls, that show them the character of the God who has saved me and who continues to transform me. They are my ministry right now in this season. If I am going to say, "Lord, here am I, send me," I need to first be willing to be sent to these guys (two little and one big) living right here in the same house with me.
So, Lord, here am I, send me. Let them see You in me.