The other day I walked into my son Matthew’s room and saw torn pieces of paper scattered over the floor. When I asked him where all the paper came from, he casually mentioned that earlier when he was mad he had ripped up his brother’s sign from his door.
I felt a flush of frustration and anger that my son would destroy something of his brother’s in anger. This was especially upsetting to me because we had already had numerous discussions on how to handle it when he was angry, to give him other outlets when he felt the need to ruin something. My face flushed red. I told Matthew I was mad he had again ruined something in his anger, and I needed to go calm myself down before we talked about his consequence. Have you ever been angry at someone and you need a breather before responding?
I walked out of the room and immediately started expressing my frustration to Jesus. “Lord, I don’t know what else to do! Why is this still happening? How am I supposed to handle this with Matthew, and what should the consequence be this time? Lord, please help!”
I recognized my relational circuits were offline. I took some deep breaths and thought of some things that brought me an appreciation to help get my relational brain back online. After a few moments of calming down, I again asked for Jesus’ wisdom. This time I had the thought to have Matthew talk to Jesus about what he had done and ask what the consequence should be. I felt much more peaceful after this thought and ready to interact with Matthew about the situation.
I went back into Matthew’s room and invited him to sit by me. I told him I was mad and sad that this had happened again, and I wasn’t sure what the consequence should be. I asked if he had any ideas about what the result should be, and he shrugged his shoulders. I told him I thought we should talk to Jesus about what happened and see what Jesus had to say. Matthew agreed, so I reminded him to start by thinking about other times we had talked to Jesus, and he had been aware of Jesus showing him something. Then he asked, “Jesus, what do you want me to know about destroying brother’s sign?”
He soon shared he felt like Jesus was feeling sad that Matthew had destroyed the sign. I encouraged him to ask what else Jesus wanted him to know about what happened. After asking, a smile spread across his face, and he shared that Jesus still loves him even when he destroys things. I affirmed this sounded a lot like what Jesus would say. I suggested he ask if Jesus had any thoughts on a consequence for his actions.
After a few moments, Matthew said, “Maybe I shouldn’t be around Andrew anymore for a while.” That thought didn’t sit well with me*, and I encouraged him to ask Jesus again if that is what Jesus wanted. Matthew soon said, “No, that’s not what Jesus wants, but I should apologize to Andrew.” Once more I encouraged him to ask Jesus if there was anything else he should know, specifically this time about how Matthew could make things right with his brother. This time Matthew said, “I should make a new sign for Andrew!” and ran off to apologize to his brother and ask what Andrew wanted the new sign to look.
I am really thankful I recognized I was too upset in the moment to interact with Matthew about his behavior. I appreciate that Jesus was with me in the situation and helped me figure out how to best handle the misbehavior. Jesus’ example deeply impacted me that I was privileged to witness of loving Matthew through his destructive behavior and turning it around so that he was excited to make things right with his brother. It is incredible to watch the outcome when we let Jesus lead, even in the area of discipline!
What area of your life pushes your buttons? Where do you need to pause your instinctive reaction, turn the situation over to Jesus, and invite Him to lead the outcome?
*When leading a child through an Immanuel interaction it is important for you as the adult to also have a strong Immanuel connection going through the time and be aware of what Jesus wants you to know about the interaction as well.