This is the place where we are have documented the road we have walked in order to adopt our four children from Brazil and the road we are now on as a family. We are keenly aware that adopting is not just a process we've chosen to go through, but part of God's plan for us and for our children. May He be glorified through the process and through our family!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Parents: We're All the Fool

After my first week back at work, this past weekend I was thoroughly exhausted and by Sunday I was in a pretty bad mood. I was impatient and as a husband and probably unbearable as a father as "everything" the kids were doing was bothering me. I was quick to anger and quick to speak to let them know I was displeased with their behavior. Since my threshold for acceptable behavior was really low, it only made me more and more annoyed every passing minute.

Even so, after church on Sunday we had some friends of ours over for lunch. Good Christian folk that they are, I knew they would understand when I told them, "I'm feeling out of sorts today, so if I stay quiet and don't talk much, that's why." This was in the spirit of the advice Thumper's dad gives in Bambi: "If you can't say somethin' nice, don't say nothin' at all!"

After lunch on Sundays, the kids have "quiet time" in their rooms, and Kim and I continued to visit with our friends in the living room. Kim did most of the talking from our end, and I sat in a funk trying to get over my mood. Part way through the conversation, Kim commented to our friends about correcting one of our children again Sunday morning on something we had both corrected several times in the last few days. I could feel the anger start welling up inside me and my brain started spinning. "I just don't understand why they continue to do the same things over and over again when they know they shouldn't," I though. I was literally pointing a finger at my son in my mind when it hit me. I smiled and interrupted the conversation and said, "I have to share what I was just thinking, which I think has gotten me over my bad mood."

What went through my mind in that split second was this: as I was pointing the finger of reprimand at my son in my mind, I suddently saw those three fingers pointing back at me. I was reminded of our Bible study last year in which we studied Proverbs. Our leader reminded us back then, "remember, when you read a proverb which talks about the 'wise man' and the 'fool,' don't get a big smile and think, 'oh good, I'm safe.' We're all the fool!"

So there I was, fingers pointed back at me, the fool, sinful, full of anger, doing the same thing over and over and over again even though I know I shouldn't, even though God my own Father has reprimands me time and time again for my own sins!

I suppose it seems a little counterintuitive that being confronted with my own sinful state so blatantly would make me feel better rather than worse, but it was really like a light switch how my outlook and mood changed. I re-realized and remembered that I am a sinful father parenting sinful children, and that my children deserve the same patience that God shows me as he reprimands me, and that my correction of my children should never be out of hate or anger, but out of love.

We have a friend from church who always tells people with new babies, "congratulations on your new bundle of original sin." It always seems to get a chuckle, but beyond the surface it's a Biblical truth that is really worth remembering as a parent. I recently read a book on Gospel-centered parenting, and although the jury's still out on the book as a whole, there were a number of points that were really illustrated well. To the point of our children's own sinfulness, the author comments that you never have to teach children to say nasty things to one another or to not share toys or to hit or to speak disrespectfully to their parents. But you do have to teach them (and more importantly demonstrate to them!) to share, and to speak respectfully, and to love their enemy...

I know I will continue to sin as a parent. And I know that my children will continue to sin as well. But somehow being reminded of this fact so suddenly this past weekend freed me from my self-centered anger and self-righteous pride.

"All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23

"Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord." Ephesians 6:4

"But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness." Pslam 86:15

"My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires." James 1:19-20


Kiki said...

And, welcome to parenthood!

There is nothing quite like it to continually see your own patterns of sinfulness. I think you're learning this a bit faster since you're not starting with a newborn!

Pat & Heather said...

Over the last 2 years with Gabe, I've learned SO much about God and his love for me. I realize often that I act like Gabe...doing my own thing, whining about something small, begging for something insignificant when i'm ready to give him somethign better, etc... And when I fall short as parent, I've realized that God is amazing because he doesn't...even though he should! =) You both are loved!