“What are you doing?” I asked sternly, as my son walked up to me, soaking wet and holding a child-sized broom.
“Cleaning the bathroom,” was the short reply. I hustled upstairs, leaving my daughter to tend to her schoolwork, and surveyed the “clean” bathroom with dismay. The sink was filled to the brim with murky, greenish water, which I later decided was from the natural bristles of the broom being dipped repeatedly. Almost every square inch of the bathroom—the floor, the vanity, even the mirror—was dripping. I was upset.
“Markus, this is NOT okay,” I said, and grabbed him a rag to begin wiping up. After a full change of clothes, he was put down for a nap with a hug but without a story. Later that evening, as I moved a lotion bottle and found water pooled beneath it, the Holy Spirit nudged my heart. “He was trying to help; he didn’t mean to make a mess.”
I repented. So often I assume my children are making messes, throwing tantrums, or fighting with each other just to get to me, just to make my day harder. This is usually not so. They are just being kids. Sinners. Like me.
1 Corinthians 13 comes to mind, two parts:
“When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.”
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (ESV)
Part of their behavior is just that: childishness. I resolved next time to ask questions before getting mad.
“Can you tell me what you were trying to do, Markus?”
“What is making you so upset?”
“What is causing you to treat your sister in this way?”
In seeking to understand my children’s heart motivations better, I think I will find that they often ARE trying to please me, but they just have trouble processing the outcome of their “helping” until they find themselves in a big mess. I will be much better able to show them love, to not be irritable, resentful or rude, to endure all things, if I remember that I am in the same humble place: dependent on God’s mercy.
Lord, help me to have the same grace with them that You daily have with my messes.