One minute your sweet preschooler is praying “God thank you for my family. Help us love each other well so we can love you better. Help us not get in any fights. Thank you for the Bible so we can learn about you”. Your heart melts and you are so excited. They are learning things, they are picking things up (positive things!) that you inadvertently taught them and you feel so encouraged.
Then, the next minute you are having to discipline the kids for fighting over a toy. You tell them to sit on the floor together, facing each other, in time-out until they can reach a solution, choose kindness, forgiveness, and move on. Unfortunately, they sit there with hard hearts much much longer than you were hoping they would.
This was me today. I felt so encouraged at hearing my kids sweet prayers during our family Bible time. One of my kids even said that they were so excited to actually read the Bible, so they “could know what it actually says!” and not just be reading a ‘Bible story book’ written for kids.
But then, when I’m not looking, for just a second, chaos seems to takeover and their naturally selfish dispositions rule over them. It is those moments I have to fight my own battle to be persistent, to be patient, and to correct with love hoping that in this moment they can learn something good and grow from it.
But man that’s hard. Because their naturally selfish dispositions I mentioned? I have that too. Sometimes I would rather just separate them, take the toys away, yell and let my own anger get the best of me, turn on the TV so they are quiet. Wouldn’t that be easier? But those selfish moments in parenting don’t lead to peace. They don’t learn the skill of love or of sacrifice if they are not made to work through the situation.
So, by God’s grace, we worked through the situation. I encouraged them to face each other, talk to each other, put away their anger and to be soft. Then I prayed for them, that they would chose to sacrificially love their sibling so the other person could be happy.
I don’t know how much of that stuck, but they’re out of time out and playing together again as if nothing happened. So I will trust that that moment was a small step in the right direction and I will pray that God will keep moving me to handle those difficult moments with grace and that I will be ready for the next one.