The course of the last week has been interesting and marked with extremes and while I don't generally journal much these days, especially publicly, God is working in Elijah and I'd like to record, share and reflect a bit. I posted about Elijah "getting" mercy yesterday and tonight I had a conversation with him that just really caused me to pause. To give you a bit of background, last week, I went to Moms Group and had to do childcare in Elijah's class since the normal teacher had a car accident on the way to the church. At Moms Group we have childcare while moms drink coffee, have delightfully complete sentences with each other since there are no children and we break into small groups to discuss either a parenting book or a Bible study. I was bummed to miss my time with the moms, but glad to get a glimpse of Elijah with his peers.
To be honest though, it was like a kick in the stomach. Elijah was one of the worst behaved children. He was taking things from others, pushing, hitting, fighting for the only green chair in a sea of red chairs during musical chairs...he had to be reminded to listen often and he was just plain not very nice in how he spoke to other children. Oh, did I mention he was super bossy too and that he seemed to enjoy instigating others to act out. I was embarrassed and started to jump in, but then decided to just observe as much as possible. When I had a quiet moment with the assistant that is usually in there, I asked if this was how Elijah always behaved. Sheepishly she nodded with a look that communicated an element of pity.
Sin. I see it every day in this broken world we live. I see it everyday in my own heart and interactions with others...in my selfishness and impatience. Seeing it blatantly in your own kid though...man, that is hard.
When the normal teacher showed up she assured me he wasn't the "difficult child" I was apologizing for him being and she reminded me that he was the youngest by as much as a year and half to some of the other kids in the group. She shared that developmentally, he is right where he should be and that the things he is doing are normal for his age. I realize those things are true, but there were a few other little ones his age that were not pulling those shenanigans! Don't get me wrong...I LOVE my kid and think the world of him. Often I think too highly of him and let him get away with too much maybe. I am not sure. I feel quite blind and alone in this task of parenting at times. I may be getting a lot right....or I may be getting a lot wrong...and to be honest...I never know which is it for sure.
A few days before the Moms Group incident, Elijah got something he knew very well he wasn't supposed to have...it was a candle. I didn't even know he had it, but he took off at the speed of light and I found him hiding with it. Man, it was such an image of Adam and Eve hiding in the garden. I told him the story and prayed for him to be a person of integrity even when no one was looking.
Today, I go into the gym where we got a membership recently because I had been struggling with some ongoing depression that I couldn't seem to get to lift (it helped a lot by the way). There is a kids' klub there where the kids are supervised and have toys and a play-scape. When I went in today, one of the childcare people asked to speak with me about Elijah. She proceeded to tell me that Elijah hit people on a consistent basis and wanted to know if she could give him a time out if needed. I told her absolutely and to let me know every time anything happened because I will follow up more severely. I explained to Elijah that if he hit anybody, that he'd get a time out and a spanking when I got back. He agreed that he would not hit anybody. Upon my return I asked if he got any time outs. "No, no," she said, "he did well. He only got a few warnings for pulling hair." My eyes bulged out. Pulling hair? I was able to find out his heart in the matter after talking to him and the little girl he had hurt. She had a back pack and he is really into them so he was trying to take from her...doesn't make it much better, but some!
In interacting with various moms and authors, I've come to understand that often, kids raised in the church don't fully recognize their bankruptcy in regard to sin because they often learn the right motions. They don't often understand the depth of grace and mercy so those are things I am working on with Elijah. When he doesn't do what I say, I don't say you aren't listening....I say, you not obeying. When he hits, lies, says no to me, I tell him it is a sin. He has to recognize his need to be saved in order to be saved. Tonight, after we read his children's Bible and brushed teeth, we went to read a bedtime book in his room. Afterward I asked if he wanted me to pray for anybody for him. He asked me to pray for Maddie, Reese and Trevin, three of his closest friends. That was new as he usually just wants to thank God for milk, toys, food, or even more spiritual things like Jesus or angels. I just found it neat that he wanted to pray for his friends.
He also looked around the room to list things to thank God for as usual. He wanted to thank God for his animals and books and then he looked at the crucifix in his room from his Great Grandma Weber. He looked at me as if he was telling me because I didn't know and said, "Jesus died on the cross." I asked Him if he knew why Jesus did that. He explained to me that Jesus' friends did that to Him, that it hurt a lot and that he said, "Help! Help!" because He didn't want to do it. I told him he was right that Jesus didn't want to have to die on the cross, but that nobody made Him do it. We have been talking a lot about Jesus' birth over the weeks of advent. We've read from Scripture that Jesus came to save us from our sins. That has really stood out to Elijah and every time I asked him why Jesus came to earth as a human baby, he says with glee and celebration in his voice, "to save us from our sins!" So, I asked him tonight. Do you remember why we celebrate Christmas? Whose was born on Christmas? Then he thought he'd be funny and kept saying it was Isaac...not Jesus. After we giggled about his joke and his silliness, I asked him what Jesus had come to earth to save us from. "OUR SINS!" I then looked back at the cross and told him, "Elijah, that is how Jesus saved us from our sin. We were supposed to be punished for our sin. We were supposed to die, but Jesus died on the cross for us. It's the mercy we've been talking about. We deserve to be punished for sin, but we aren't because Jesus died on the cross to pay for our sin. Nobody made Him do it though, Elijah. So why do you think he did it for us?" Heartfelt and in all seriousness, Elijah responded, "He's kiiiiind."
You are kind indeed God! I thank you Lord God that You are working in my child. I desire nothing more fully if I am honest. I am such a disaster and yet, in your grace, You allow me to get such glimpses of your grace....your mercy.....fruit from labor that truly is a joy. Lord, I ask you to penetrate his heart with the truth of the gospel. May he recognize his sin and absolute need of You. May he truly understand the depth of grace and mercy You've supplied to Him because of Your great love and glory. I ask for wisdom and guidance for Aaron and me as we walk this journey of parenting as we are clueless, insecure and blind without You.