Early yesterday morning before church, Lilly was going to take Daisy, our Havanese puppy out for a walk. I said, "Why don't you have Carly (her 9 year old sister) go along?" to which she replied, "I'd rather just go alone."
To which I got so annoyed. I have this crazy strong desire for them to be BFFs, and so far, my dream of this has NOT come true. Sometimes I let "MY" own desires and wishes get the best of me and I forget that other people get to have their own opinions and ideas and desires and wishes and plans too. I'm more of an extravert and LOVE being with people, but I sometimes forget that she's an introvert, like her dad, and needs alone time to refuel.
And I was a jerk about it. I confess. I fussed at her for not wanting her sister to tag along to fulfill my own wish for them to be besties.
All day long I thought about the way I treated her. I thought about the way Carly must feel when she gets turned down, time and time again, which honestly breaks my heart. I hate when one of my kids has an opportunity to be loving and chooses not to.
It's tricky all of the peoples best interest that you have to look out for when you are a momma of multiple kiddos! Can I get an Amen???
Anywho, last night I went to an event at church with a friend and was reminded of how extravagantly we need to LOVE EACH OTHER, even the people who do not think like us, act like us, look like us, etc.
So on my drive home, I called her. I asked about her day, what she did while she was over at her friend's house. What they had for dinner. What they talked about. How the project that her friend was working on was going. She'd told me that when she came home from her friend's house that dad had let the kids make a mess and that they left out ice cream bowls and messed up the toy room, but that she'd cleaned everything back up for me so that I wouldn't have to come home to a mess. GOD LOVE YOU CHILD, I have been waiting for that my entire motherhood! While you aren't ready to be a bestie to your sister yet, you ROCK at knowing mom's love of tidiness!
When I came home, I went up to talk to her about some issues middle school life is bringing to her. One of her friends was at the church event that I had just attended and she reminded me that middle school kids can be cruel and hurtful and push people out and basically just act like punks. I reminded Lilly that we all go through it and that I am so thankful she talks to me and her dad about it. As always, I reminded her that people are going through a lot of things that cause them to act the way they do. It doesn't make it okay, but it's helpful to try to understand where people are coming from.
All of this chatter to make one strong point. We all need LOVE. The kid in your home with the worst behavior, THAT kid needs the MOST of your love, time, phone calls, and attention. The most hugs, if they'll let you. That kid needs the most grace. That kid needs to be disciplined in a way that says, "I love you."
One morning last week she was being fussy towards me and her iPod was gone for 4-5 days. That meant no TV and not communicating with her friends, even one of her best friends who'd just moved away. We try to have consequences that match the kiddo's age and that say, I love you, but I will not tolerate rudeness. Consequences that matter, but that are not degrading or harsh or cause us to love anyone less.
In fact, I'd say we try to love her even more. We try to spend even more time talking about what's going on in her world that contributes to "fussiness." I can't think of a better word to use there.
We know middle school is hard. We know middle school throws things at you that you don't want and would NEVER choose! We know she has to deal with jerky boys and girl drama. We hate it for her!!! Really, if we could just fast forward a few years, I'd take that option. But we cannot.
We also know these things, to which she has very little control over, affects her. They affect her mood. They affect the way she treats us and her siblings.
We know that when people are struggling with one thing or another, it affects them. While the world and culture and even our own natural instincts say, "Pull away!!! Get away from that person!!! Protect yourself from whatever may be spewing out!!! we know that God says, choose love.
Any teacher will tell you, the most difficult kid in their class is probably facing some challenges at home that they did not choose.
Most fussy toddlers are dealing with new teeth, lack of sleep, interrupted schedule, often times, things that they did not choose.
Spouses may come home from work tired and cranky, all about things from their day that they wish they would not have had to deal with.
Everyone, all of us, from time to time have burdens, sometimes visible and sometimes invisible that we have to carry. Insecurities, past hurts, all kinds of things make us who we are and what we feel and how we act, good or bad.
What does God ask of us in this incredibly complicated world?
To love each other.
Not when its convenient or when we are happy or when our kids decide to BFF their sister to make our own Mom Goals and wishes come true. He wants unconditional love. And this is how he describes it.
"Love is patient.
Love is kind.
It does not envy.
It does not boast.
It is not proud.
It does not dishonor others.
It is not self-seeking.
It is not easily angered.
It keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects.
Love never fails."
1 Corinthians 13:4-8
In my Bible study, I recently had to write the opposite of love.
These were the words I chose.
keeps records of past mistakes,
does not protect.
It isn't a feeling. Love is not a feeling. Lust is a feeling. Love is a choice.
It's a choice to say, I know what you're going through. Or maybe I don't, but, I am willing to take the time to listen to you, please tell me what it feels like to be in your shoes so that I can understand where you are coming from. And sincerely Empathize - "That's gotta be tough. I am so sorry that you are going through that. Or that you have been through that."
You may even be thinking, I really don't even like you right now, but I am going to choose love. I am going to give myself time to pray and regroup and then I am going to get right back to loving you. I am going to choose YOU over me. I am going to try to understand your needs and see how I can help you. I'm going to protect you, try my best to be gentile with you, kind to you, patient, forgiving, honorable.
If you are teacher, I know you are going to take the time to figure out what is making your kiddos tick, or not tick. I pray that you'll ask God to help you choose love. Knowing that their behavior probably is stemming from circumstances they'd certainly never choose.
If you are a momma,(Or dad) the same. Go into their room at night. Turn off the lights, and just listen. Sixth grade was easy-peasy for us, but I am learning this year that middle school really can be as tough as they say it is.
Spouses, let's put down our devices for a minute and communicate. Ask, how was your day? What was your high? Your low? How can I help you?
We all have burdens. They all change us. We all desperately want someone to choose love. We want time. We want to feel cared about. Babies to 100 year olds are all in desperate need.
I have my work cut our for me! I can honestly tell you, in the last week, I have been impatient, ignoring, rude, selfish, prideful, and score-keeping to name a few. I know that I am growing, I know that I have come a long way, but God knows I still have a long way to go.
I'm going to keep choosing love over and over. And I know I will fail. Time and time again, I'll fail. But I won't give up. I'll keep asking for forgiveness and I will keep seeking God's word for wisdom. Thankfully we are all very forgiving in this house and we have God's word to give us more "Joy in the Chaos" of this life.