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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Willful Disobedience

As I disciplined my kids yet again over a minor transgression – staying up past their bedtime – I got the usual “I’m sorry, Mom” from each of them.  Neither of them had attempted to follow the early bedtime rule I had enforced a week before school was to start.   They knew the time and chose to ignore it and the rules.  These people are old enough to tell time, and crazily, had opted to watch Cupcake Wars instead of listening to their mother.  Do I have to hold their hands as they brush their teeth and stand at the doorway while they get their pajamas on?  I don’t think so.  I thought I was over the baby stage!  I was frustrated, and steamed.

They each sang out “Sorry” again and I responded, “Too many I’m sorries, guys.  I’m sorry is when there’s an accident and you didn’t mean to.  You two willfully disobey the rules over and over again and expect that the apology will fix things.  It doesn’t.  You need to fix the behavior.”

I tucked them into their beds with a stern “Next time, do what is right instead of apologizing” and although I was still mad, gave their worried faces a guarantee that I had in fact forgiven them for their shared sin of viewing a baking competition over readying themselves for bed at the obligatory time.  Later, I worried that they would never get it right, that this was a new fight we would be having on a regular basis, and I thought about how many times I was going to have to steel myself against losing my temper when they pull this stunt again.  The thought of that exhausted me.  They need to go to bed early; if they don’t, they’ll be horrible monsters in the morning.  Every. Single. Morning.  Maybe I’ll go live in a hotel.

As I played the scenario out in my head again and again, a little thought kept peeking out from behind the anger and frustration.  I could have reacted better, I could have patiently helped them understand how important this is, I could have held their hands a little more until they found their way to bed at the appointed time.  Eventually, they will get it, and I need to stop being so crazy and be a better role model.

Sigh. 

Then I thought of how many times I fail to meet God’s expectations, ignore Jesus’ teachings, or shift my focus away from the Holy Spirit’s guidance.  At this point, it’s willful disobedience on my part – I know the rules.  How many times do I say “Sorry” and expect that I will be forgiven for my transgressions, which let’s face it, are usually more serious than staying up too late?

Jesus takes my hand, stands by my side, and watches me get my act together until I can get it right all by myself.  Every. Single. Time.

And if he can do that with me, queen of willful disobedience, then I can help my kids go to bed on time.

Cupcake Wars, really.  Do I have nothing else better to harp on them about?

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Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight!  Psalm 32:1

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