What really matters
By Danielle Strickland, Major –
I’ve got a 6- and a 3-year-old who have something wrong with them. Massive hormonal swings. I think this is the case with all kids, but I’m sure it is with mine.
They are prone to extensive and extreme reactions to normal decisions. Crazy ideas like “clean up time” and “homework before screen time” are met with wailing fits of protest. They literally rage against the injustice of it all. On the occasion when I can take a moment to look at it from a distance, it’s funny. But mostly I just hold in my own hormonal responses to theirs. What I want to do is to scream and shout louder…but I don’t. Because I’m an adult. I think it’s rather big of me to stop the cycle.
Upon reflection of the most recent fit (this morning), I saw myself. I saw my own inner emotional reflexes to God’s invitation to put the things that matter first. Homework before screen time? The nerve. I rage against the discipline, yelling out on the inside of my head, “He never lets me have any fun!” and head to my room to sulk and turn on the screen anyway. Ha ha. That’ll teach him.
Prayer before action? I’ve never! No one has time to pray, and all the other kids don’t have to…I want to get something done. I rush on past the prayer closet in the hope of getting on with the “real work,” sulking through the effort because of my divine parent’s nerve to try to steer me in what will help me get the real work done.
Making time for relationships? Are you serious—I’m swamped already. Plus, let’s be honest, I’m so awesome I don’t need anyone! And the inner tantrum begins.
It would appear that I’m in a perpetual state of a spiritual toddler. My initial reactions are almost always extreme ones. I guess the difference with me is that instead of it being done out loud it’s an internal battle. I shout and scream and pound the floor in my own mind, heart and will.
And then I take a step back to look at my own hormonal self—raging out of control–and I feel the parent in me rising. I tell myself, “let’s review.” What has God asked of me? I go over it in my mind. Why has he suggested this? I realize that if I participate in this journey it’s going to lead to freedom. Much like my 6-year-old this morning, reluctant to practice his letters line by line before the screen time was released, I find the practice of prayer journaling to be both liberating and infuriating. But as he looked up and smiled at me when he was finished and said with a great sense of accomplishment, “I did it!” I remembered how I feel when I finally relent to the instructions of God who is teaching me what really matters on a daily basis.
I’m thinking the reality of internal toddler tantrum hormonal swings may never really leave me, but I’m so glad God is patient and kind and willing to keep inviting me to put what matters first. Maybe you need to take a moment in the midst of your own reactions to remind yourself of the incredible scriptural promise that God disciplines (instructs, enforces boundaries, gives direction) to those he loves. Then count yourself blessed for that kind of parent and do what he asks.
Because in the end, that’s what really matters.