There's a first time for everything
Whoa!! Now that was a hard morning. There's a first time for everything and today's first was my six year old son Brennan yelling "you shush!" at me. Oh yes. Shush- the soft version of shut up. Yet still a massive form of disrespect.
And why, you might wonder, was my six year old so mad? Because I would not let him wear his favorite sneakers to school. And why wouldn't I let him wear his favorite sneakers to school? Because they were soaking wet from playing in the sprinklers the night before when he was fully dressed.
It's not so irrational, right? Not letting him wear wet sneakers for 7 hours of school doesn't seem so cray cray, does it? But you see, the word "no" can quickly turn joyful, vibrant Brennan into a swirling tornado. The word "no" is a word he is still learning to appreciate. I kinda get it. I don't really like it either.
As Brennan swirled in anger about his sneakers I found myself saying "it" - you know, .....the daddy threat. "Oh you just wait 'til your father finds out that you spoke to his wifey like that!" It's never my intention to use the daddy threat but today there was no stopping it.
Brennan's eyes bugged out. "Nooooooooooo," he screamed as fear oozed from his pores.
I'm actually not sure why it put so much fear in his bones. Daddy's usually more gentle with them than I am. But then again Brennan has never told me to "shush" before so maybe the unknown magnified the fear of consequences.
I knew this couldn't wait for Daddy so I told Brennan to meet me upstairs for his discipline. We needed to deal with the behavior he displayed so we used a dab of soap to wash the disrespectful words out of his mouth. But as you well know, washing disrespectful words from our mouths doesn't wash the root of the issue from our hearts. So, we had "the talk."
If you've read enough of my blogs you know what "the talk" looks like. It means we deal with 'the heart'- the belief behind the behavior.
"Brennan, I know how hard it is to control your anger."
"Really? How?" Brennan asked, seemingly eager to know the answer.
"Because I struggle with it too. You know mommy is always asking Jesus to empower me with His Spirit so I can have a patient and kind heart. It's because I don't like the word "no" either. Most people don't like the word "no" because we want what we want when we want it. It's human nature. And the only way I can have a spirit of love and self-control is when I allow the gift of God's spirit inside of me to have control. "
I reminded him of 2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT)
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.
I'd hoped this would encourage Brennan but instead I only saw worry in his eyes. After a few moments of silence he asked, "But I love Jesus. And I still get mad. Does God's Spirit not live in me?"
His question reminded me just how very much a six year old can actually understand.
"He does Brennan! He does. You do have the same access to God's spirit that mommy and daddy do. God gives you both the desire and the power to do what pleases Him. How cool is that? God is so good that He doesn't just tell us how to live and then give us a pat on the back and a quick 'good luck with that.' He gives us His spirit to empower us to live and love in his likeness. So I want you to know that while mommy had to give you consequences for your disobedience, the Holy Spirit is the only One who can change your heart and give you the desire and the power to obey."
I tied it up with a pretty little bow. So I thought. But as children do, Brennan had a tough question in his back pocket and he pulled it out and asked, "But mom, sometimes you still get angry. Why do you still do that if Jesus lives in you and gives you His power?"
"Oh Bren," I said, "I'm so glad you asked that. You are so wise baby. Mommy still gets angry sometimes because I'm a sinner. I am not perfect. I never stop needing Jesus and I always need His grace. We live in a fallen world and things are not as they're meant to be."
"Oh yeh, because of Adam and Eve?" my smart little guy asked.
A big smile spread across my face, "Yes buddy, because of sin entering this world through Adam and Eve. But until Jesus makes everything right when He returns, we will sin. We will need Him to rescue us. We will fail to rely on His power within us and our hearts will wander and our sin will prevail. There was only one who never sinned. And you know who that is."
"Jesus!" he exclaimed, with the typical enthusiasm of a six year old boy.
I wrapped my arm around his shoulder. "You got it, love. So when you think you might get angry, just say a quick prayer like, 'Jesus help!' Ask him to live in you and through you to give you the power to live against your sinful nature and in His powerful love. And when you fail, know that Jesus never runs out of forgiveness and your disobedience never changes His love for you. Because of Jesus' perfect obedience, there is grace, grace, and more grace for us."
We weren't sitting on a couch having this conversation. We were walking along the side of the road to school. And when we arrived at the front door, I kneeled down and hugged him tight. What started out as a terrible, horrible, no good day became an opportunity to give my son the gospel of grace.
In the wise words of Elyse Fitzpatrick in Give Them Grace, "The one encouragement we can always give our children (and one another) is that God is more powerful than our sin, and he's strong enough to make us want to do the right thing. We can assure them that his help can reach everyone, even them. Our encouragement should always stimulate praise for God's grace rather than for our goodness." (pg 43)
Thank you Lord. Your grace permeates and changes everything.
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