I’m so sick of telling my kids to do something or not to do something only to have them turn around and do the exact opposite when they think I am not looking. I’m tired of saying the same things over and over and over again. “Stop hitting your brother.” “Don’t put toys in your food.” “Sit still.” “Be quiet.” “Stop throwing things down the stairs.” “Eat your dinner.” “Go to bed.” The list goes on and on. My kids simply don’t listen to me…on a regular basis. My words go in one ear and out the other. It is frustrating, disappointing, and discouraging. Some nights it makes me want to scream. Other times it makes me nearly break down in tears. Why won’t they just learn? Why don’t they get that I say these things for their benefit?
On the one hand, my heart aches because I know how much better their lives would be if they could learn some of the lessons I’m trying to teach them. I tell them to go to bed because I know that if they get a good night of sleep it will help them to be more energetic, better able to concentrate, and happier at school the next day. If I tell them to eat dinner, it is because I know that they will feel better and be able to function at a higher level if they are well-nourished. I want what is best for them and I feel like I have some experience from which to direct them. So, when they ignore my suggestions, my directions, my heart breaks a little, knowing that they could have something so much better.
On the other hand, I get angry with them. They are not listening to me. They willfully disobey me. They know the right thing to do, but they choose NOT to do it. Sometimes, I just want to scream. Sometimes, I actually DO scream. But even in my anger, I still love them. I am angry because I know my instructions will help them. I know that they can do and be so much better. And I desire that for them. Nothing is more important to me than to see them grow and become the best THEM that they can be. Now, because I myself am imperfect, sometimes my anger toward them is more about me than about them. And I repent of those moments. But as a parent, my overwhelming desire for my kids is to see them succeed in life, be the best people they can be.
Sometimes that requires punishment. I may have to put my son in time-out because he will not listen when I tell him to clean up the mess he made. I may have to send my daughter to her room (or even carry her there) because she refuses to brush her teeth at night. Those punishments are meant to teach them, to help them grow and do better the next time. I do not delight in punishing my children. In fact, it often pains me greatly to do so. I would never punish them for revenge. And I always go and talk to them afterward to make sure they understand the intention of my actions, so that they can learn from the experience. The punishments always have an end. There is always an opportunity for them to say they are sorry and ask for forgiveness.
I love my children. No matter how much they ignore me, defy me, or simply make choices that I do not like, I will always want what is best for them. I will always try to help them learn. If they do something I think is wrong, I will correct them…even if that requires punishment. But I will always return to them and accept their apologies and hold them tightly in my arms. I want them to be the best that they can be and will work tirelessly to help them achieve that. They are my children.
Is this how God feels?