You are indeed my rock and my fortress; for your name's sake lead me and guide me, take me out of the net that is hidden for me, for you are my refuge. -- Ps. 31:3-4
Raising three boys is the hardest thing I have ever done -- or will ever do, I'm convinced. There are times when I wish we could live in an isolated commune where everyone was kind to everyone else. This thought is, however, usually followed by the other thought of all that we would miss if we were isolated from the world. There are many wonderful things in the world.
So, how do you live in the world, and teach your children how to live as God wants us to live? How do you teach your children to treat other people as they would like to be treated, when they are not always treated very well, by either grown-ups or other kids?
For example, I want my kids to speak kindly and respectfully to other people. I correct them when they don't. I take away privileges when they repeatedly don't. Yet, when other people speak unkindly or disrespectfully to them, nothing happens. The other person isn't corrected; privileges aren't taken away. My kids don't understand.
I want their teachers to be kind, their classmates to be kind, other family members to be kind. Always. I want to take them away from everyone who hurts them. But, and this is the kicker, that would include me, as well.
For I am not always kind. I get impatient. I yell. I give advice about how to behave which I don't always follow. It seems as if I'm teaching my kids that they need to be more perfect than everyone else!
Perhaps, emphasizing perfect behavior in my kids is the problem. Perhaps, I need to emphasize forgiveness. Thinking about this, I feel like I am on to something, something that seems to be the crux of my, and my kids', concerns: not trying to find a more perfect world, but teaching my kids to forgive the imperfect people in this one. And, for me, forgiving my kids' imperfections, too. For no one on this great and wonderful earth is ever going to be perfect.
I find it significant that the only part of The Lord's Prayer that gives us direction has to do with forgiveness: Our Father... Forgive us, as we forgive others. This is the only phrase in the whole prayer in which we are promising to do something. I wonder if teaching forgiveness is not actually more important than teaching The Golden Rule.
Dear Lord, I feel your light shining on me. Thank you for being patient with me over the last few days as I've tried to hear your guidance around a very hectic schedule. I wish I had understood this a long time ago. I guess I need to forgive myself for this, too. Love always, Pam