Over a week ago, one early morning, while I was pondering deep things, my thoughts began to gather around one frightening realization: If someone were to visit our home and observe our lives for a day, they would most likely put me in the category of "mean mom". I had sensed this before, and had tried to curb some bad habits at different times, but that morning, it all came together in one big salty wave that crashed all over my soul: I was not the nice mom that I thought I would become.
From that morning on, I read and re-read I Corinthians 13. I went through the list and discovered that I didn't pass many of the tests of charity.
Here it is:
Charity suffereth long (I'm not patient anymore. I can't remember the last time I was consistently patient. Joseph is good at asking where something is that is in an obvious location. He is also good at repeating the same question, just to get extra confirmation. Aaaaaaaaah)
and is kind (...so my response to him is not kind. Sometimes I use that higher pitched, exasperated tone of voice; sometimes a very matter of fact declaration that I actually will not tell him where the object is since he really ought to know. As for the repeated question, I impatiently ask him to trust in the first answer I give.)
charity envieth not
charity vaunteth not itself
is not puffed up (thankfully, these don't seem to apply to my situation...yet. Maybe I'll have another early morning revelation...)
Doth not behave itself unseemly (I behave myself very unseemly. Anna is a very passionate, very affectionate girl (she is proud of her title "firecracker" that her babu bestowed upon her). She needs hugs often. Sometimes, I almost trip over her when I'm busy in the kitchen, because she wants a hug. I have often gotten so impatient, that yes, I've behaved unseemly. I have declared no more hugs until bedtime. When she is hurt about something, and cries, I have trivialized her feelings.
Also, with Lydia, who is very eager to test the limits these
seeketh not her own (this is tricky. Is finishing extra dessert in the safety of the kitchen in an effort to keep their bodies free of all the extra calories seeking not my own? I use this handy excuse to help me finish the last of the dark chocolate, and - just tonight - the last of the chocolate cake with cream cheese icing.)
is not easily provoked (way too easily provoked. I almost have no buffer between the stimulus and my reaction. I don't yell (well, there's that high pitched, frusteration voice...) or throw tantrums. I'm just passive aggressive in a very mean way. I mete out discipline in short, tense, quiet sentences. I'm sure they can feel all good-will drained dry, and the heavy hand of the law coming down hard on them, the offenders.
thinketh no evil (oh boy)
Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. (so much in these final phrases that should be happening more, but isn't)
Here's the scary part:
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
What good will all my smiles to others do, if I fail at basic kindness toward my kids? Ok, and toward my husband too? It is all useless.
Until I have established an overflowing well of charity in the very center of my home from which Ken, Joseph, Anna and Lydia can freely and happily drink, all other efforts in life are dust.
Ok, so our life is not anger and strife all the time. Actually, most of the time, we are happy with each other, having a good time. But those angry, tense moments are still poisonous. Though they are the minority, they still occupy too much of our time and resourses.
Those little things matter: Determining to reciprocate every hug Anna offers. Making a point to initiate more hugs than she does. Kindly setting up guidelines for when hugging can be detrimental to necessary work.
Respecting her sadness.
Kindly answering every question Joseph asks.
Kindly, explaining where anything is, even if it is RIGHT THERE beside him... without a hint of sarcasm.
Kindly, firmly, and consistently disciplining Lydia when she knowingly disobeys without any tone of frusteration in my voice.
Kindly reminding Ken about some task he has forgotten to do.
How simple and profound kindness is! I'm so glad it was listed in the characteristics of charity. You can't go wrong with kindness.
So after meditating on I Cor 13 every day, I really did notice a difference in my own befavior! And I'm almost positive I've noticed changes in the way the kids treated me and each other. Then, these past few days, I only skimmed the chapter in the mornings, and nothing took hold. I regressed. Again, I'm almost positive I'm seeing more battles flare up between them.
In conclusion, I really appreciate the Holy Spirit's reminder. It halted my gradual descent into unfettered meanness.
It's never too late to start digging a deep well of charity.
Aaaah, I'm glad this is finally documented. When necessary, I can refer back to this and stare straight at myself in this mirror before limping toward the cross for a grace and mercy re-fill.