This last week my oldest two kids have been at each other's throats. They have been fighting in strange and unusual ways. They scream at each other. They push each other. It's gotten really bad. They seem like they've been constantly angry with each other. And they give "The Look". You know, where they tilt their heads down, purse their lips and look at each other (or you) out of the tops of their eyes. The kinds of looks that shoot daggers. I find that I do not handle these situations very well. I don't like seeing them this way and - honestly - I want to MAKE them love each other. As they pestered each other and scowled and screamed and pouted and huffed and puffed my patience wore thin. And then God slammed me. As they got in yet another fight and I jumped up to referee I noticed that their anger with each other made me...well...ANGRY. Yikes. Realizing this was like drinking that nasty bitter stuff you have to take when you are pregnant and getting those tests done. I needed to see this dark side of myself. But it was not pleasant.
I am a fallen and broken person, and it hurts my heart to see that I am passing on my junk to my kids. I am teaching them something, through how I respond to things and how I react to them, that pains the heart of God. I get angry with them, and they get angry with each other. They say hurtful things. They shun each other and shame each other. They boss and manipulate and use each other. And they often explode at each other when they can't take it anymore. Just like me.
I love it when people say that Ellie looks just like me. Or when they say Payton has my smiley cheeks or tiny ears. But realizing that my kids also have my anger and my biting tongue and my quick temper...that's not quite so flattering or heart warming.
I reminded my son today that the hard times we have today don't have to be carried on to tomorrow. The Lord's mercies are "new every morning". He is making "all things new". We don't have to carry the baggage from today into tomorrow. So today I am letting go of my failures and praying for his new mercies.
Lord, I have failed in being a living example for my children in more ways than I can count. I have passed on things I do not wish for them to own. I pray for your intervention in our lives. Inervene in my heart to stop anger from welling up. I pray that you would replace that response with one that would honor you. Help me to be patient, thoughtful, instructive and merciful. I pray that you would give me the tools I need to parent in a way that honors you. I don't want to depend on my feelings or on the ways the world accepts as adequate parenting. I want to lead them to you and I know that requires more than just knee jerk reactions. It requires more than I have. It is true that I struggle with anger, but it is also true that you redeem and transform. As I lay this burden at your feet, please help me to let go of it and allow you to deal with me. Have your way in me. And for my children, Lord, I pray that whatever I have passed on I can take back. I pray that they would witness my surrender of this sin and your redemption in my life. Let their hearts be softened towards each other and their anger subside. And I pray that they would not carry this feeling, this reaction, this sin, through their lives. Let patience, wisdom and tranquility mark their interactions with each other and with others. I pray that as they grow they would learn how to be even-tempered in all situations and that they would be able to react to situations with compassion, kindness and love. And I pray that your Word would become the center of our lives. Teach me to "Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates."(Deut. 6:7-9) I ask for your Word to feed us, renew our hearts and guide us as we learn and grow. Thank you for redeeming us daily, for changing us and for only dealing with us one issue at a time (or I may be overwhelmed by my depravity to the point of hopelessness). Your kindness and mercy amaze me. Amen.