Yesterday the boys were at co-op and were playing with their friends. They were doing the usual wrestling thing, when someone suggested to look for a bad guy and chase him off. One of my boys suggested that his brother be the bad guy, and the rest started to pretend to attack him, which he didn't like, but couldn't seem to stop until I had to step in.
It broke my heart. Seeing one of my kids not standing up for his own brother, his brother who helped him to protect his toys fiercely, who looked up to him.
Then that protector of toys got into a fight with one of his friends. For the second time that day. That fiery temper, that does not take no for an answer, got all fired up when his friend did not let him take the toys when he was packing up.
On the way home from co-op, I felt defeated. I know that day, as I looked at my two sons, my heart cracked a little. But as I thought about the whole thing, I was reminded of a story, and that all of us, parents included, need grace. Desperately.
Oh dearest boys,
Yesterday I told you that I was disappointed. I was sad to see how you lost your temper, at how you didn't take care of your siblings, at how you forget that words, mere words, can have terrible consequences.
I told you both that I didn't like what you did. Because what you did hurt others, whether it is by words, casually uttered, or by flailing fists that cannot be controlled.
But you see, even though I didn't like what I saw and heard, it does not mean that I stop loving you. I still love you even when I yell about the messes at home, at how you would throw your things about and refuse to keep all your toys. I still love you when I confiscate your Lego because no one bothers to clean it up. I still love you when I tell you that you give me a headache with all that screaming and running around. I still love you even though you can be difficult during Mama school. And it is because we love you, that we discipline you. Love, while unconditional, still needs to set boundaries to keep you safe.
Yesterday's incident brought to mind the story of the prodigal son, the one who decided to squander his inheritance, who broke his father's heart and ran away. How his father must have hurt! Yet, he rejoiced when his son returned back to him. The father didn't like what his son did, but he never stopped loving him.
And even as I thought about the story, I thought about how God must feel about us. How we've chosen to disobey, to run away, to go our own way. How God must have not liked the many things we have done: Mama and Papa losing their temper, us placing so many things as priority over Him, Mama acting on her anger. But even so, He loved us. Loved us so much that He gave us His Son to die for us.
“The Christian does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because He loves us.”
- C.S. Lewis
I was reminded that we are never good enough. We are imperfect people in a messed up world. But God loves us, and if we continue to trust in Him, He will help us to be good.
So my dear sons, remember this. We love you no matter what, even if we don't like what you do. And our love for you, though imperfect, is but a dull reflection of that great and amazing love God has for you. And for that temper that needs taming, and those fists that need self-control, and that heart that needs some wisdom and love for your siblings... we'll keep praying to be able to discipline wisely, and that God will teach and change you.
Your Mama & Papa.
Your Mama & Papa.