My son eagerly inquired for what seemed like the hundredth time, “so mom did he text yet? I’m really wanting that pocketknife, did dad text you yet?”
“No Warren, he sure hasn’t.” I responded in a gentle but exasperated voice.
My boy and his dad had made a deal (a few days before) pending good behavior—If my son (Warren) held up his end of the deal, showing respect and a good attitude, he’d eventually receive a mini-pocketknife from his dad’s scant collection and on the flip side: poor behavior and lack of respect and bad attitude would equal no pocketknife.
Pretty simple formula to process.
…maybe not for an eight-year old boy with an abundance of extra energy.
First off when this deal was initially communicated a deadline must’ve been overlooked and never discussed. Warren seemed to be failing at recognizing that patience and self-control are two very important and necessary components of respect. Both of which he was lacking as he repeatedly questioned me asking if his dad had messaged yet to give a timeframe on this deal.
In other words I believe he actually wanted to know ‘how long must I practice and display being EXTRA nice?’ (Um, for the rest of your life son)…After all he’d been holding doors open for others, using an abundance of more-than-usual verbal manners, and even helping tote things to and from the vehicle with our busy on-the-go schedule…all without being asked to do so.
So per his request, I had texted my husband (who was at work for the day) to see just when this “positive attitude for pocketknife” exchange might happen and in the meantime Warren was anxiously awaiting his father’s response.
Finally when he asked for the hundred and first time if I had heard back yet, this is what took place:
Warren: “So mom, has dad text?”
Me: “Yes Warren, actually he has.”
Warren: (think Tom Cruise obnoxiously-giddy-over Katie Holmes, excited) “He did?!! And what did he say mom??!!!!”
I proceeded to read him the message from his dad which read: ‘Tell him that he can only have it after he proves to us that he can have a good attitude ALL the time…no baby talking (that’s a topic for a different post) and be respectful to his parents and sisters—then and only then, can he get it!’
Meanwhile my boy’s chipper over-the-top attitude had been exchanged for sighs and grunts. Needless to say he wasn’t overly enthused by his dad’s response and when I asked him what he thought he desperately replied, ‘well I’m doing those things!’
Warren: “So can I have the knife then?”
He was oblivious to the competent lesson at hand.
Too often I find myself in similar circumstances, failing to identify a teachable moment in the midst of the lesson…distracted by selfish reasoning.
Allow me to describe what happened later that same evening.
After nighttime prayers were uttered and children were tucked into bed, I began tidying up a few things around the house.
Soon my boy called out, “Mom, would you come snuggle with me?”
“Aahhh!” I let out a lengthy exasperated sigh, and topped it off with, “I still have a bunch of other things I need to get done tonight!!”
…Like mother, like son…patience, self-control, and a positive example—obsolete! Poor guy comes by it naturally, compliments of his mom.
Immediately (and thankfully) guilt sank in without delay as I acknowledged the irritated tone I carried.
When I reached the side of my son’s bed (aka the couch, because he has a basement-room that he’s afraid of and I’m a softy) he somberly spoke, “Mom you don’t have to lay down by me.”
My mama heart sank a few more inches.
“Sweet guy I’ll lay down and snuggle by you. I’m sorry. I always want to snuggle with you I just sometimes get overwhelmed with to-do’s.”
I laid down and explained to him how sometimes we react on immediate impulse; we allow our negative emotions to become bigger than the lesson God may be trying to press on our hearts.
As we conversed back and forth my little guy’s voice was soon replaced by the sound of soft snores. I kissed his warm forehead, whispered I love you, and felt satisfied over this teachable moment.
Goodness, am I ever glad we don’t have to be defined by negative experiences! When we feel engulfed by impatience, anger, anxiety, jealousy, pride, etc. we can seek God, longingly, to overcome—especially when we feel far from hope.
Patience & Anger- Proverbs 15:18 A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel.
Anxiety- 1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your worries and cares on Him, because He cares for you.
Jealousy- Proverbs 14:30 A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.
Pride- Proverbs 3:7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and depart from evil. (This one is my husband’s favorite verse and spoke so much to him when he quit drinking.)
God’s word literally contains an answer to every opposing obstacle or feeling we may encounter, providing positive direction for our lives. He never fails us. EVER.
It brings me such peace to know that scripture covers any and every struggle; and through digging into God’s word and prayer we find comfort beyond the issue.
…Our son is nine now and although some days are rough, we see him persevering—modeling patience, practicing self-control, and building character. He’s not only earned the little knife to shove into his pocket, but he and I can both reflect upon a valuable lesson tucked into our hearts as well.
Sometimes receiving or obtaining the ending prize (in this case my son with his pocketknife) isn’t even the best part—It’s often times the lessons or training we’ve learned along the way that have helped us achieve that goal and helped to develop good character qualities in our lives.