Thanksgiving day was a whirlwind with a flurry of cooking, eating, hosting and interacting with family members. As the day began to wind down, I was sitting with my sons reading bedtime stories and praying. At one point I asked the boys to each share something with Jesus they feel thankful for. Andrew (4) gave thanks for flowers. My oldest, Matthew (6), was in a silly mood and he started saying gibberish things. I asked him to stop being silly and say something real. Refusing my direction, he again continued with the gibberish. I became frustrated. My body tensed and I noticed my face flush with some anger. Again, I asked him to share something serious instead of being silly because, after all, we were talking with Jesus and my son was being disrespectful. He defied me again and started with the gibberish. Feeling flushed and frustrated I sent him to bed with the added consequence of losing his light which he usually relies on to look at books before bed.
Matthew was very distressed by my response. I was irritated. I put Andrew down for bed then took a few minutes to talk with Jesus about the interaction with Matthew. To help me move from my non-relational, frustrated mindset I started thinking about something I was grateful for. I then asked Jesus what He wanted me to know. I was surprised by the thought that Jesus wasn’t frustrated with Matthew like I was. Jesus was more patient than I was feeling and I sensed Jesus asking me to show Matthew some grace. Grace? Really? I struggled with these thoughts because I felt like going back on a consequence I had already handed down was not “consistent” parenting. In fact, this might be setting a bad precedent. However, as I thought more about this I realized I would be passing up the opportunity to share Jesus’ grace with Matthew and this is something I did not want either one of us to miss.
After feeling calm and peaceful, I walked into Matthew’s room and laid down on the bed next to him. He was mad at me. He resisted my attempts to be near him. Once I was settled next to my son I told him I had just talked with Jesus about something important, and Jesus had something for me to say to Matthew. Now my son was intrigued and he was eager to hear what I had to say. I told him that Jesus is more patient than Mommy and Jesus was asking me to give Matthew grace. I said, “Matthew, you are going to have another chance to share something with Jesus that you feel thankful for!” This time my son quickly responded and shared he is also thankful for flowers. At this point we went on to talk about the difference between Mommy and Jesus. I clarified, “Jesus is much more patient than Mommy is. Even if Mommy is angry about something, this does not mean Jesus is mad. In fact, Jesus is more often feeling sad than mad when we disobey.” I noticed my son’s eyes fixed on me while saying these words.
While this example is humbling for me to share, I feel blessed with the opportunity for a “redo” where I could do a better job the second time around reflecting Jesus to my son. I am also so grateful for the gifts of patience and grace Jesus shares with me. The goal of parenting is not to do everything perfectly, as this is just too much pressure on us. We are to repair with our kids when things go wrong. I was especially encouraged the following night when I again asked Matthew to share something he is thankful for. He responded “I have something silly in my head, but I will share the serious one. I am thankful that Jesus is always near us and protects us”. His response brought a big smile to my face and I felt especially grateful that I had not missed out seeing the fruit of the grace Jesus asked me to extend to Matthew.