Friday, July 19, 2013
This summer, my children have gotten into a habit of complaining (or at least, this summer I am more aware of it). One will wake up and tell me they didn't sleep well because the curtains were cracked and the light came in the room. One will tell me they don't want to go to the pool because NO ONE will be there. Another will complain of being too hot, or having mosquito bites, or the worst of the worst, "I'm bored".
Typically when I hear a complaint, I respond un-compassionately with a blasé and half sarcastic, "I'm sorry". When it gets really bad, I tell them to get their gardening gloves and come on outside with me to pull weeds. The weed pulling is a win-win for me, a necessary chore that doubles as discipline. It makes me wonder about all the chores I was required to do as a child. Was I once a habitual complainer? If so, I was certainly cured of it by building, repairing and painting fences, herding cattle on horseback, schlepping hay bales and driving the tractor - all by age 4. Or something like that - the details are hazy :).
Anyway, it has been troubling me lately. So, I was ironically bitching about it to my friend Teresa at dinner the other night. This wisdom-woman immediately quoted 1st Thessalonians 5:18, and shared how she coaches her children when they complain.
"Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus."
I love it. And I know this verse by heart, as well as the two before it.
16. Always be joyful. 17. Never stop praying. 18. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
This morning before breakfast, I got out my bible and did a little DEVO on complaining and being thankful. I reminded them of God's goodness and the beauty of our simple life... though we are not rich, they have not a need in the world that has not been met... how grateful we are for our property, our animals, our ability to stay home, our blessing of going to a pool everyday... we Alexanders are THANKFUL people.
Then I went on with, "When I was your age, blah blah blah." Kidding. I did not go there.
The children were so humble and so receptive. They listened intently and interacted with me. One of them replied, "Mommy, I never hear you complain." Thank God, that for all of my blind spots and misses with these kids, they have recognized the value and the difference - that I have modeled gratefulness and have hushed grumbling.
We went on with our day and I continued pressing into God's guidance on this.
He brought to mind my friend Michelle, who has been intentional about using scripture in discipline since I can remember. I searched for an email thread, from a time when she was sharing with me about Ginger Plowman, who has an entire ministry working with moms on discipline through God's word. I perused Ginger's website and ordered a couple of books. Looks like we are going to have a little family book club when school starts back up again. I CAN HARDLY WAIT!
I am so thankful for my friends who mentor and challenge me. Days and years can go by but God uses every Spirit-led conversation to continue to shape and challenge, encourage and gently rebuke.
I pray that one day my children will look back and remember this day: "Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus." And I look forward to the Lord's leading through scripture as I shepherd my little ones.