Our son, H, is twelve. We feel like lately he has been on the cliff's edge of a major leap forward in maturity. It's very exciting to see because we have been steeped in little boy behaviors (and still are, with our younger two boys) for so long. Sometimes it feels like we can't go another day! But H's recent heart-changes have given us hope for some better times to come with our sons.
This morning, though, some of H's old ways (old meaning like 2-3 weeks ago) were coming through. He was getting easily frustrated with his siblings and he was arguing with me about -- well, everything.
Like a gift from God, H had asked to go to the early service at church this week (by himself) so that he can attend the youth Bible study, which will be occurring during second service. So while driving him to the church service, I got some time alone with him in the car.
He started the conversation with, "Mama, I am so frustrated with Z, and I need your help."
He proceeded to describe a problem at the Lego table at our house where he built Z a really cool car and Z didn't like the wheels so he just took the wheels off H's car and put them on his.
I asked H what the Bible would say about this. He said, "Forgive and forget, but it's so frustrating! Now my car doesn't have wheels!"
I said, "It does say that, but it also says to 'turn the other cheek.' So what that means is that if Z wants to take your wheels, the right thing to do is to ask him if there are other parts of the car he needs to improve his car. That might give you the possibility of making yours into something better that you wouldn't have otherwise noticed."
He said, "But those are the last wheels!"
I said, "Maybe build something else."
He said, "But I helped build everyone a car and I want a car, too."
I said, "You know, this Lego lesson might be a good life lesson. You want a car and you are so determined to have a car that you get frustrated when you can't build one. Maybe that's the Lord's way of redirecting you and saying that He has better things for you to build. Kind of like in life when we push for what we want and God keeps closing those doors because He has something better in mind and we just have to stop trying to control everything and allow Him to show us His better plan."
We talked about this concept for a while and we talked about how we can't change other people in frustrating situations, but we can change our attitude. Also, that it requires the Holy Spirit to change us from the inside and when he finds himself feeling frustrated and unable to deal with a situation, it's important that he takes a moment to pray that the Holy Spirit can change his heart and help him to see the right path.
I asked, "Do you have any thoughts about this that you want to share?"
He said, "It's sort of like what you've told me a lot before about being more like a duck. Not getting bothered by everything other people do."
I said, "Yes, it sort of is."
He said, "I need to keep working on that."
I said, "Yeah, we all do. Even adults have to keep remembering this -- the difference between kid-thinking and adult-thinking is that we realize and accept that there are things we need to work on instead of insisting we are right or entitled to what we want."
He sighed and said, "You're right, Mama."
And the heavens parted and a bright light shone down (or maybe I just imagined this part).
By now, we'd been through the drive-through at McDonald's to get him a quick breakfast and we were pulling up to the church building.
He picked up his Bible, he picked up his large drink and put it in the crook of his arm, then he took his sandwich and hash brown out of the bag -- smashed the bag -- and put the bag on my cup holder. Then with four awkwardly held things in his arms, it took him two attempts to close the car door after he got out.
All the way home I kept looking at that smashed bag, thinking about how peculiar he can be sometimes and wondering why he didn't just take the bag with his food in it. It would have been easier to carry the bag instead of individual items. I was starting to feel frustrated about his lack of common sense.
And suddenly I realized that this was God's way of reminding me that when I'm feeling frustrated, it's me He's working on in that moment and it's my attitude that needs changing. Thank you, God, for the reminder that we can each only learn one lesson at a time. And if H got that bigger lesson this morning (finally!), then I should celebrate that and not get so easily frustrated that he hasn't learned other lessons at the same time -- like how to better carry his stuff into church.
Good gracious, our son asked to go to church early today! That's blessing in and of itself.
That's the lesson for me today.