To better understand how we handle learning such lessons, we only need to look at how we teach and reach our own children. Watch your children when they’re enjoying free play, living color reenactments of how mommy, daddy, sibling, even teachers and other important people in their lives react. Observing Learning Station children play school, family, or shopping shows their version of the grown-up world. You will find them scolding and spanking baby dolls, screaming at them, pointing fingers while pronouncing warnings and ultimatums executed in mean spirited ways. They’ll plop them in time out and declare they’d better not move a muscle. Some lace their lashing out with a bit more love, but always point those fingers and roll their eyes in disgust at their imaginary playmates…often their own playmates catch the same derogatory treatment. It’s refreshing when children react kindly, showing they practice The Golden Rule. Kids are usually very honest in how they represent what we are to them. So, ‘we may not be what we seem’, as our North Carolina motto declares. Do we expect too much from our children? Do we raise our children to be all they can be, to be independent and aggressive, to know that we love them unconditionally, to be brave and bold as they go forth in the world? Sure, we do! Yet, our lonely hearts and empty nests often get the best of us. Often, we don’t remember the very lessons we taught.
Recently, I endured a difficult week when my emotions emerged, ruling me like a child. I failed lessons that had been mastered long ago. My miserable mess finally became untangled when God got my attention and handed down remediation lessons for the umpteenth time. You’d think we’d learn, retain, and be cautious, instead of learn, forget, and become callous. That’ why going to our knees is always the best place to receive His instruction. It keeps us humbled and in honor of our great responsibility as His children … and to our children. Let us never think we can do it on our own. It truly takes a village to raise a child. When we are united in love for our Father and follow the universal Golden Rule, we won’t fail Him or our children.
My week of frustration, self-pity, and selfishness caught me off guard. I don’t know why. One would think we’d learn that holidays aren’t always the picture perfect greeting card. Holidays are difficult to endure for many people, especially those missing loved ones. My week was wonderful; I made the mess all by myself. God had checked off gifts given to me without even asking. My blessings were bountiful, but my actions didn’t show appreciation to the Giver. Surely, He frowned with me taking His gifts for granted: comfortable home, soft, warm bed, healthy me and family, food galore, good job, growing ministry, fabulous friends, abilities to read, write, and enjoy life with more gifts than I could even list. Ironically, instead of glorifying Him, I grumbled for troubles and things I didn’t want to be given. Self pity settled in when it seemed everything around the house would take a holiday from working also. My car battery died, the fluorescent light bulbs burned out in my garage one day, my bathroom the next, my Learning Station van’s taillight broke and the fence bent (when I backed into it), the fan on our gas logs stopped working, my best friend was gone for the week, my microwave wouldn’t respond when I hit start,, my garage doors stopped working, and the real kicker was when my sons didn’t respond to my email about attending our annual Smith Reunion that Saturday.
I was recovering from a flu bug that invaded my body and left me coughing and crying over the least little thing. Been there, right? So, I stewed and sank in self pity. Immediately, the door was opened for the enemy to do the miserable thing he has mastered with most of us. It was my choice, my actions that magnified the predicaments I faced. I made molehills seem like mountains. I was wrong but you couldn’t tell me that, even though I knew it in my heart. I continued my little walk to the pity party, primed and ready to take center stage. The enemy filled my mind with thoughts that should have been discerned and done away with immediately. Then, the rascal would have had no power over me… making my days dismal, my week wretched. Yet, I kept telling myself what a wonderful mother I was, how good I was doing with the load on my shoulders, how hard I worked, how I went the extra mile for my family, how they could always count on me to be there for them, how they should spend more time with me and do things together that meant so much to their mama, how Tim and I looked after them when they were little and I’m still doing everything in my power to make sure they are protected and doing well in this world and ready for the next. In the middle of my puny pouting, a telemarketer called. His aggressive sales pitch was not music to my ears, so I gave him something to think about besides his pitch for me to receive a dream vacation for two, no cost, just call the number and come. He insisted on speaking with Timothy Spell. Previous calls, with requests for Tim, left me crying, or even being rude to the person on the other end of the line. Not today. I was way too pitiful to be mean spirited. More importantly, my heart beats peace that Tim is out of pain - in paradise. So, I said. “Sir, Timothy can’t come to the phone; he is in Heaven.” There was dead silence for the longest time, and I didn’t dare rescue the poor guy who called the wrong woman at the wrong time. Finally, he said, “I am so sorry for your loss.” I didn’t stop there though. I told him how happy Mr. Spell was in paradise forever and ever!
The caller softly said, goodbye. I sat in silence, being still and knowing God was right beside me… as He is all of His children. I was reminded it’s not about me or what I’m going through that should determine my mood, my happiness; it’s all about my relationship with my Father who loves me unconditionally, just as I love my children. My thoughts turned to the cross; I tried to imagine the pain He endured while watching His Son suffer and die for me…for you! My heavenly Father was teaching his child lessons about love, sacrifice, and feeling forgotten … especially on holidays we celebrate concerning His own Son, the day He was born and the day He died! My pity turned to praise for my Lord who never forgets to show His love to His children and longs for us to show ours for Him.
My long week wasn’t over, neither were His lessons that would bring me closer to Him and my family.