Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you. -Ephesians 4
I don't know why, okay I guess I do, but when I am just stumbling through the Message Bible, I feel like I always land on this verse. Or another verse about gentleness. I'm pretty sure that with 4 kids who are each amazing and precious and naughty and drive me out of my mind at times, each in their own unique way, God knew I was going to need truckloads of help with gentleness.
He says to forgive quickly and thoroughly.
With 4 little kids, I am not kidding when I say 345,987,002 times a day, I have to make a conscious choice to forgive, thoroughly and completely.
Lil is embarking on new territory. She doesn't realize it yet, but she is extremely annoyed by everything. The noise of the turning signal in the car. Her sister eating. The sounds of her sister sucking her fingers. Her brother sucking his thumb. My singing. My dancing and acting like a crazy person. She's just annoyed and she lets us know about it, a lot. Someone at school likes to hum. She tells me all the time, Mom, it just annoys me so much! And I get it. I am equally annoyed by the sound of crunching. It irks me to the core!
I'm trying to give her strategies to deal. Move to another place to eat. Turn on the fan in your room or play lullabies to drown out the sucky sound of your sister's fingers. Leave the room for a minute. Pray for gentleness. Kindly ask the person to stop without taking their head off. Sometimes, I'll just say, "Let your gentleness be evident to all," but honestly, that probably just annoys her too.
All of that to be said, I could be mad at her all the time. Frankly, the rest of us are kind of annoyed that she's always annoyed. I get tired of hearing her "CARLY, stop sucking your fingers!" 1200 times a day.
I tell myself with her, and the others, "hit the reset button" "hit the reset button" over and over all day. Just as I trust that the reset button is being set over and over again with ME.
Last night, when I was feeling at my wits end with her "annoyances" I had her help me make cookies. My parents were coming over with their new phones and one of her friends recently moved into our neighborhood. I thought we could make cookies for all of them and try to get her focus off of herself and all the things that was bothering her, and onto helping other people.
That quickly turned into a fight with her brother over who got to pour what ingredients into the pan. "I'm doing the milk. No, I'm pouring the milk. You just got to add the sugar. I'm doing the vanilla." After a few minutes of that, my own annoyances revved up and I sent them both out the kitchen to regroup. Eventually they came back in and we got the job done, but it wasn't without some struggle.
When my parents showed up with the new phones in hand, that girl came alive. She was showing them one trick after another on their new phones. She helped get them all set up and ready to go. She served them her cookies. As they were leaving, she thanked them for coming to visit and asked if they wanted to take more cookies with them. She thanked them for bringing her Skittles. She was an absolute angel with them.
We called Mike at work to tell him, "You should have seen how helpful Lil was to Meemaw and Peepaw. She got them all set up with their new phones." I always make a big production out of their good behavior to Mike, because they live for his praise. It motivates them more than anything.
It's a roller coaster ride friends. Highs and lows. Good and bad. When you look at social media, it may feel like your friends got the perfect kids, but they didn't. None of them. We each got perfect kids for US, kids that help us stretch to Love each other. To learn to be humble. To learn to forgive. To learn to be patient. To learn unbelievable JOY, even in the chaos.
Hang on in the rough moments. Discipline in a way that you see fit for each particular child. But don't get stuck in the mud. Don't leave your kids hanging out in the mud either. Pull them up. Find a morsel of good and let them know about it. Let the other parent or a grandparent know about it. Constantly look for the good and let them know you see it and appreciate it.
At the end of a hectic day of highs and lows, I can say to her, "I can tell that your hormones are all out of whack today, but I still love you like crazy girl!!! I am so proud of the way you_________. I just really loved watching you be so helpful and kind to Meemaw and Peepaw. I appreciate that. You are a really good girl. You have the power to make other people's day so much better. I love when you choose to do that."
There is so much good in these little people. Celebrate it! Help them find it even when they don't realize it is missing!