"Love is patient and kind.
Love is not Jealous or boastful or proud or rude.
Love does not demand its own way.
Love is not irritable and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged.
It is never glad about injustice but rejoices when the truth wins out.
Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance."
Mike and I have two different kinds of kids. Two that are super easy, go with the flow, pleasers. Two others that are highly opinionated and know what they want. They can all take on each of those characteristics to some degree at different times about different things. But they certainly have stand out qualities.
I was just looking back through Disney pictures from this year and a previous year and something stood out to me. It was an "AHA" moment. There was a time when "I" demanded my own way. Meaning, this is what momma wants, this is what we are doing, end of story. Except for the story always ended in tears. Frustration. Regret. Disappointment. Fighting. Hurt feelings, etc. etc.
Somehow along the way I got this idea in my head that good mommas had obedient children that should do exactly what they want them to do. And when they didn't, it was my job to get them to see that my way was the right way, because, you know, I am older and therefore should be wiser, right!
I know. I know. Stopping laughing at me already!
My mentality now is much different and when I prayed for wisdom about it, the above verse basically jumped off the page at me and screamed HERE YOU GO - WOMAN!!!! This is it. LOVE DOES NOT DEMAND ITS OWN WAY.
Joy in our house means that kids get to help make a lot of decisions that will not impact anyone else. In other words, if you say you are hot and want to wear shorts on a cool day, you get to wear shorts. (Even if the rest of your family is wearing pants because they are chilly!) If you get chilly, you may decide to wear pants tomorrow. Maybe not. If you want to wear the pink dress at Disney world instead of the Disney dress that would be oh-so-perfect for the occasion, put the pink dress on! You want your favorite comfy navy shorts to wear with your red and black Disney shirt, by all means, put those babies on and be comfortable and have a good time! You want to buy another Rapunzel doll with your money, although you already have one similar? Yes! Buy the Rapunzel doll! God gave you a brain in your head. Ideas. Wishes. Dreams. Let's give you some opportunities to make them work.
If you live in the Christian world, there is a lot of talk about "Death to self." I'm not getting into here, but I think it means that you aren't selfish. You do not always demand your own way - EVEN IF IT WOULD MAKE CUTE DISNEY PICTURES. (I know. That's embarrassing to type!) EVEN IF - You know they could possibly be chilly. EVEN IF - you think a variety of toys would be better. EVEN IF - you have been taught that you don't wear navy and black together.
Mike is adamant that I let the kids make some of their own choices, even when they aren't what we'd choose. He wants to empower them to do their own thinking. To learn to be confident in what they choose. To be able to make their own decisions and live with the consequences. Or to make their own decisions and be Comfortable and Enjoy the life that they have now, regardless of how others might see them. Who cares if navy and black clash!?!?!?! Do I want JOYFUL, comfortable, confident kids, or do I want us to "LOOK LIKE A PERFECT family?"
It is embarrassing to admit, but it has been a REAL STRUGGLE for me. I have to swallow my own pride. My ego. Let go of an idealistic life that I think would be right or best and the reward has been JOY! FREEDOM! RELIEF! I don't feel like I'm carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders. I'm not constantly fighting everyone about everything. I don't feel like I have to make 9 million perfect decisions each day. Or fight 6 people about making 9 million perfect decisions each day. That life is exhausting and overwhelming.
I can look at the pictures of myself now and see JOY. I see relief. I see a mostly JOYFUL family. When I look back at family pictures from 5 years ago, I am overwhelmed with feelings of stress. All I can think about is the struggle behind each of those scenes. The fighting over hair and clothes and shoes. Everything, really.
I know what you are thinking. So is it just a free for all at your house now? No way Jose! Not even close. There are a lot of things that matter a lot. There are issues that we battle daily. Mostly things of the heart. We try to have no tolerance for nasty behavior between the siblings, although that is something that we work on almost DAILY with them. I do think the way I interact with them has a trickle down effect. When I am grumpy and demand my own way, it seeps down to my kids and their behavior is a mirror of that. If I'm perfectly honest, I feel like I'm often on damage control from years of demanding my own way. Rebuilding a broken relationship is not easy, which is why I'm writing here in the first place!
The next line down says, "Love is not irritable." When I look back to my old ways, I see constant irritation. Annoyed with these sweet babies. Why? Because of the previous line. I always demanded "MY OWN WAY."
So here's the question. Are you always irritated? Is it because you always demand your own way? Are you flexible about small things so that you can be firm and have the energy to handle more important things? Are you overwhelmed? Exhausted? What you can you let go of? What small battles can you stop fighting so that you can see the much bigger picture?
When He says...AND the GREATEST of these is LOVE, does the above verses reflect your love for you kids and spouse?
Do you know someone who suffers from Have-it-my-own-way syndrome? I hope not, but if you do, please share. Let my embarrassing, painful truth be a catalyst for change for someone else. Save another momma some heartache. Give her the gift of JOY!