As the children grow I often find myself at my wits end, I mean, I trying to think differently about how to instruct, guide and gently (without tearing their heads off or loosing mine) discipline them with love. The hardest thing about these wonderful children of mine is the CONSTANT bickering, fighting, aggravating and whining usually about the other one - ok, maybe not constant but certainly a daily occurrence. Usually when I can't handle it anymore (around dinner time) I've sent them to separate parts of the house - whew! - peace again until I attempt reconciliation and forgiveness and then 1 1/2 minutes later they're back at it and they're back in their separate rooms. Parenting is the most humbling endeavor I could ever imagine - things never work out as you'd like and often I feel as if I'm flailing about - what works for a time or for your friend rarely works for you. It's all to get me to a point of trusting God - the only certainty in this whole thing. Dear Lord, forgive me for ever judging another mom for her efforts to love and care for her children - this is hard work.
So each season brings new attempts to train, etc. For the past several months I've been trying a new way to end the bickering and foster brotherly/sisterly kindness (all of this under the only true and lasting way to change their behavior is for them to have new hearts - a work of the LORD - I pray often for them and know that He is the one to change them and I pray for wisdom to know what to do to help) .
Recently, I began to think about what always separating them says to them (they are more important, you don't have to get along just run away when things are hard? I don't know maybe I think too much) SO I thought about a change - Instead of sending them to their own spaces of the house - I make them hold hands. Ya'll - I'm beginning to see fruit. Now the funny thing is Lucy after a while likes the idea but Samuel would rank this right up there with water boarding t-o-r-t-u-r-e. Usually the incident starts with a fight over who gets to read the National Geographic first or who has to wipe the table down and who gets to vacuum under the table, who has to share with Lydia first, who gets the cup with the most sweet tea. Today it was the after dinner chores and I said - OK - hold hands. They immediately wanted to just do whatever it would take to not have to hold hands but then they obeyed and got to work. By the end - instead of a bickering bunch of kids I had a third tag-along and three helpers working together - hand in hand to load the dishwasher, wipe the table and vacuum. I'm grateful for the fruit of friendship that is sparked and the torture turned to laughter.
Thank You, Lord, that though separation may be good for a time and relationships may be hard that when we work through the mess of life there is beauty and peace at the end (and in my case a fairly clean kitchen tonight). Help me to know how to love those around me well and enter the mess and discomfort of relationships - to forgive, to receive, to love. Thank you for these precious children who are teaching me that I must trust you daily. Please help them to grow to be good friends...one day.