It may have seeped through in a post or two lately that my trio have been testing their boundaries. To put it mildly. My words are meaningless. In fact, generally my words have the ill-effect of creating the exact opposite result of their intent. This brings great merriment upon three wily 22 month olds while creating a combination of exasperation and fury in their ever-aging mother.
Blatant disobedience. Actions taken, not under the cover of night, but in the full glare of the sunlight (aka momma). I understand there is a reason for the phrase “Terrible Twos.” But I believed that (a) my angelic children would not experience it as fully other more devilish imps, (b) it wouldn’t strike early, but rather, it would strike later, and (c) some of the lore surrounding the Terrible Twos had to be exaggerated and that it likely wasn’t quite as extreme as some would tell. I can admit when I’m wrong. And I’m admitting it now. Now, don’t get me wrong, these precocious children are not without their high points – they laugh these fabulous contagious laughs, they are extremely affectionate, they are quite attached to their father and me, and they have these beautiful faces that make you resist throwing them in the backyard.
While I am not a terribly impatient person, I have become so in the past few weeks. Very very impatient. And honestly, I’m just frustrated. Why can they not “get it?” Hitting is bad. Trying to stick your head in a heating oven is DANGEROUS! Jumping off the arm of the sofa will crack your head open. And hiding under the middle of the big dining room table just to avoid getting a poopy diaper changed really will only make YOU more uncomfortable. I am trying to protect them. I am trying to keep them safe. I only want what is best for them.
So with all of these issues running on a loop in my head, I made my way into church Sunday morning after missing it for the past several weeks. I began reciting the prayer of confession, “We humbly confess our sins and ask Your mercy. We have not loved You with a pure heart, nor have we loved our neighbor as ourselves. We have not done justice, loved kindness, or walked humbly with You, our God.” With each confession, I felt a pin-prick in my heart. And then we had time for individual silent prayers of confession. And I had a laundry list of things I needed forgiveness for on that Sunday morning. In addition to failing to do all of the things in the recited prayer, I had so many other areas where I was reminded I had failed in my faith. I had been blatantly disobedient. Actions taken, not under the cover of night, but in the full glare of the sunlight (aka God). But the real kicker………I am 37. Not almost 2, but almost 38. I wonder if God was warned about the “Terrible Thirty-Sevens.” Or the “Terrible Twenty-Fives.” Or the “Terrible Fifty-Threes.”
Here I am, throwing up my hands in utter and complete exasperation and anger over my kids testing their boundaries, when God, my Faithful Father, has patiently forgiven me despite my disregarding His repeated warnings and guidance to make different choices. He is trying to protect me. He is trying to keep me safe. He only wants what is best for me.
Not only was I immediately convicted to be a more patient mother, but to also be a more obedient child. To walk where He leads me. To keep my head out of that oven. To listen to His patient instructions. And each time I see my child rear his or her head in frustrating disobedience, I pray it will serve as a reminder of how I should focus on my own behavior and make sure it is conforming to the patient, gentle, and protective guidance of my Heavenly Father.
Deuteronomy 5 – So be careful to do what the LORD your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left. Walk in obedience to all that the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.
John 14 – Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.”
Proverbs 3 – My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity. Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.