So, my boys have been going to “Royal Rangers” at our church. My oldest for 2 years and my younger son just started attending last month. And well, if you’ve been around boys you might expect they can get a little rambunctious. It always starts out with them both wanting to wrestle or as they call it “battle” (How do they come up with this stuff?!?) And then someone gets hurt, and then someone gets angry, yada, yada, yada. One of these such occurrences happened just a couple of days ago and I had to intervene. Here’s how it went down.
“Son, you can’t decide to just hit your brother out of anger.”
“But, MOM, in Ranger’s we learned to do to others what you want them to do to you.”
“Ummm, Son, do you WANT your brother to whack you like you just whacked him?”
“No, but he must have wanted me to do it to him since he did it first.”
“Boys, sit down. We need to talk.”
As you can imagine, it took me a little while to sort out their distorted view of how the verse they had learned was really supposed to play out in real life. But you know, I’m not much different than my boys. More often than not, I read scripture or hear sermons and simply take away what is easy for me, what is comfortable. Those parts that don’t require me to change.
How often do I simply react to how someone has treated me and get this whole “Do unto other’s” business all backwards? It’s much harder to be the first to step out of my comfort zone and to be kind to those who have hurt me. It’s much easier snap back at my kids and husband when tempers are short and and the day has been long. We’ve all heard the adage or have even had the refrigerator magnet that says “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” As wives and moms we can set the atmosphere of our homes. Proverbs 15:1 says “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” I’m sure we’ve seen it in action, one person has a rough day, comes home in a mood and snaps at another family member. That person snaps back, or in turn snaps at another family member. Then there are 3 or more people who are snippy and every interaction between them for the rest of the evening is soured by the former conversations. What if we could diffuse those bombs by giving a soft answer or by considering how the person who initially snapped at us is feeling?
While I’ve seen emotional explosions take place when knee-jerk snap backs happen before gentle answers are provided. I’ve also seen how powerful it can be when I find one of my children full of frustration and I call them aside to see what’s really going on. I’m not sure how we managed it, but there are 7 very strong personalities in our house. All different, but determined and headstrong nonetheless. Sure we could choose to dish out what we’ve been given, and wait for the other person to admit their faults and apologize, but how much more enjoyable is life when we really consider others before ourselves. To slow down and think before we lash out. It’s okay to call everyone together and ask for a re-do when attitudes have flared.
I want my kids to speak to me and to others with thoughtfulness and with kindness. They learn those things from somewhere. I’m challenging myself, their live in role model, to slow down in my responses so I can thoughtfully reply in wisdom and kindness. I want to make James 1:19 the norm and not the exception. “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” Can you imagine how amazing things would be if we all adopted that mindset? It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.