Acting on My Own

Recently, I had a horrible day with the children.  They were willful, stubborn, whiny and argumentative. So was I. Throughout the day, as the children had struggles of temper and of mood and emotion, I found that it was slowly beginning to affect my moods.  Still, I soldiered on.  I worked with them and disciplined them, never stopping to pray.  I never even thought to ask God for guidance.  I was going to handle it on my own.

By the end of the day, my mood was terrible.  I had yelled at the kids.  I had said things I regretted.  I had had a “horrible, no-good, very bad day.”  I retreated to the kitchen and began to chop up ingredients for a big dinner salad (with children complaining over the fact that we were having salad for dinner (again!).

I set the children to cleaning up in the living room, and I worked.  As I worked, I saw Connor jumping out of the corner of my eye.  He was trying so hard to put up a comb in a container way above his head, and he couldn’t reach it on his own.  I smiled on the inside and wondered when he was going to realize that he couldn’t do it on his own.  He was never going to be able to clean up the comb and put it into our hair care basket without my help.  Yet, he still kept trying over and over again, stubbornly refusing to ask.

I immediately felt the sting of conviction. I had stubbornly spent the whole day correcting my children’s behavior, never reaching their hearts, and doing more damage than good.  I did it all in the aim of striving to be a good parent.  I was jumping up towards a goal, and I never once stopped and asked my Father for help in reaching that goal.  I never once stopped and asked him how I should respond to a situation.  I never gave my cares to him, but instead I found myself caught up in my worries and emotions, not having a stable center place.  I never reached my goal, and by the end I had acted like a horrible parent and all five of us had had a bad day.

I realized that just like Connor was too stubborn and independent to ask for my help, I was too stubborn and independent to ask for God’s help.  At the end of the day, I felt empty and drained.  I was full of worry and regret.  I found myself thinking of I Peter 5:7, which says, “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”

Then, I found this song on my heart all evening.  I had learned it as a child, in the children’s choir that my church used to have.  Especially important to me was the line, “And anytime I don’t know what to do, I will cast all my cares upon you.”  It is comforting to have those songs in my heart from my childhood.  It is humbling to be reminded of my need for God and my independence and disinclination to rely on him.

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