The morning started with an angry scream from my little girl. I took in the whole scene from my cozy bed. Of course I couldn't actually see what was happening because I stubbornly squeezed my eyes shut feigning
Toys banged against eachother, voices yelled "Mine" back and forth. Then there was the scream that morphed immediately into a waling cry. Somehow the crying girl managed to communicate her angst, "HE BIT ME!!!!" She must have whacked her brother at this point because his wild screams joined hers.
I know my kids and I know these aren't unfamiliar issues (unfortunately). Kids being normal kids. Needing instruction, intervention, attention, and discipline. Left to their own devices, they choose the easiest way out every time -- not the way God has for us. "For all have sinned," never seemed so applicable (Romans 3:23).
I also know that I wanted to stay in bed for a few more minutes. I tell ya, this pregnancy is stealing every last ounce of energy I have. But who am I kidding? I liked to "sleep in" whether I'm pregnant or not. I'm not a morning person, so it remains an excuse I rationalize when a morning starts with mayhem that I don't want to deal with.
I know what keeps me hiding under the covers. That is not rocket science. It is avoidance in its most unlovely form.
But the opposite. That's the harder question. How do we confront life's challenges when we really, really, really don't want to?
A friend recently wrote on her blog about what makes her day as a mother go round in a pleasant fashion. Follow these and life with little ones works, don't and the end result is chaos (see the above description of my children's morning behavior).
It made me think about actively parenting instead of actively avoiding parenting. For Grace, she does her best to practice these three for herself and her 5 girls:
- Love. Not just affection. Choosing to do what is best for one another. Choosing to see the good. Laying aside our own desires for someone else. Obedience is also included in this one. Just as God tell us that love for Him means obeying His commands, as a parent, my girls show me their love by choosing to willingly obey.
- Diligence. Any job can be handled. Any job can seem like a bear. The difference is diligence. Even the most daunting of tasks can be steadily chipped away at with some intentional diligence. My girls are always so excited when they see their diligence pay off.
- Joyfulness. Joy takes any situation in life and makes it just a bit better. A day sprinkled with joy is bearable. A day where everyone is determined to have joy is delightful! Encourage your family to apply joy to every circumstance.*
These three behaviors/attitudes challenged me to tackle my first of many issues during my day. Love, diligence, and joy (for this season in my life) made a tired mommy, depleted and grumpy as she was, get out of bed and deal with my two little one's fight.
The very real confrontation I heard my kids dealing with NEEDED my help. What good would avoiding the scene do for them or for me? There was a toddler who needed to be trained not to bite. A preschooler who started and ended a conflict badly who needed to be listened to and instructed (and both of them also needed some positive interaction with their mommy who was ignoring them).
Making the choice to live lovingly, with diligence, and joyfulness isn't the natural choice. Actually its the hardest choice. From a pile of dishes, loads and loads of laundry, fighting kids, kids who want attention... the "easy" answer is to avoid.
Like me, I know that many of you find it easier to avoid life's challenges. Maybe it is by sleeping in, or watching tv, reading a book, talking on the phone or texting, or losing yourself on the computer. But it only works for a time until we are angry at ourselves and everything in our lives. Including those kids who are just being... kids.
In an angry state, we find it impossible to live with love, diligence, and joyfulness. Instead, we are consumed with selfishness, laziness, and discontent. Oh, how I want to avoid a life lived with those last three descriptions.
Today is a new day and my goals are to confront instead of avoid. Situations (even the ones I would rather run from screaming) will be tackled with love first because my first goal is to love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, and strength (Deuteronomy 6:5). Then I will diligently work through my day as working for the Lord (Colossians 3:23). And I will cling to joyfulness in this stage of my beautiful life (Psalm 90:14).
Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
* Quoted text used with permission from Grace at Grace Is Blessed By God. Check out her encouraging posts every Thursday called, "Heart for the Home."