I should have seen it coming,
The way he darted around the shop bored…
Him hovering over his sister — ‘Swiper’, waiting to snatch the balloon off her hand.
That quick slap on her chubby thigh? — things that only a big brother can do.
I should have known him better.
Intimately knowing what makes him laugh and tick. Points of vulnerability that’d make him trip. Moments of life where temptations would loom larger than the love, and how flaws can easily hurl one out of fellowship with the family.
Hurricanes always form with brief gusts of wind.
Emotional blow ups? — always a product of a string of poor choices — adults and children the same.
I am Mum, and I’ve known my own fair share of weaknesses, and I should have prepared the day better.
It was a day of our choosing and I sensed trouble brewing.
We adults were making choice on the type of flooring for the home, and that kid?— making his choice on vice versus virtue.
That day at the floor shop, he was a ball of energy.
And I should have followed the link — all energy needs channeling and every power an outlet.
I should have provided him with the outage, because even Superman needs his sleep.
The sales lady walked over to me and handed me a glossy magazine.
On the front page were emblazoned these words “Inspiring Choices”. Yeah, there were multitudes of options available; every latest trend on carpet, timber, and bamboo, to laminate, vinyl and tiles. And honestly?, they felt quite overwhelming. A single decision of purchase landing on our whole decade of living.
“Muumm…” his first whine, a slow and steady arising.
The sales lady was busy explaining all the different grades of floors. They all differ in strength and resilience. I saw him wriggling like warm jelly. I aimed to make my conversation short on what’s anti scratch and anti-slip. I mouthed him my silent instruction, gave him the look to say: “just a few more minutes…?”
His eyes pleading: “It’s been longer than 10 minutes, Mum…”
“Looks can deceive,” my husband told me. “You can get porcelain tiles that look like wood, and laminates that resemble stone, and you can replace each broken vinyl when it cracks”…yeah, but there ain’t no repairing with cracks that happen out of words that hurt and actions that maim.
That was when I saw a claw-shaped hand pinching his sister who had been running about happily.
How do I tell him “Stop!”, and tell her “Watch Out”?. I was a second too late, then came the screech: “You hurt me…“, tears spilling from her eyes.
Did the lady say the glossiest porcelain are the hardest to keep? That every surface will reflect every strain of dirt? The Word is our mirror, and I’m left looking bare into the anger of my own heart.
James Dobson said it right, “babies come into the world with no instructions, and you pretty much assemble them on your own…they are maddeningly complex and there are no guaranteed formulas. Even the most intelligent professionals are struggling with their child rearing responsibilities at home…”
You have to sympathise with the soldier mum who confessed: it’s easier to be on the battle front than to be at home.
Undervalue your role at home, and you set yourself up for a life of disappointment.
The way to raise kids who turn out right is by partnering with the grace of God in your life. Imprint a deep love for God, and make impression through walking redeemed.
Because this is the truth — Grace always redeems. Rules may clamp and bind, but love always, always liberates.
So I sat both the prey and the predator down.
On that same lush carpet, the sinned one and the one about to sin we’re all on equal ground. Every child a sin of his own.
Picking floors and shaping souls are art; both a sketch on a whole blank canvas.
React to a child in anger and lose the opportunity to influence him from the inside out.
And character training is a long, slow season of sowing. It needs my careful planting, my deliberate watering.
The day saw the unravelling of more ugliness from our hearts.
There were defiant choices to misbehave, calculated decisions to disobey.
And with that, the heart breaking consequences Mum and Dad had to deliver. I swat him with my hands, stared him down with my eyes.
How do i tell him that everyday he gets to make choices? Everyday we get to choose, and every moment our moment of decision.
We can all choose to be led by the good or lose control to the flesh.
That we all get to choose what we want to do, and there’s no escaping from the consequences they carry.
I am the womb that birthed him life and I want to be the mouth that gives him faith.
So when the night got darker and his heart got harder and the tears got stronger, I asked him and asked me, these three questions —
“Why did you do that? Why is it wrong? How can you make it right?”. —- all the time praying feverishly for Gospel light to break in.
I got down on my knees, looked into his eyes. In the darkness of the heart’s abysses, our only hope for change is a heart transplant, a mind metamorphosis.
Slowly, he looked up to me.
Haltingly, came his simple confession. “I couldn’t help it Mum, I didn’t have self control.” Words unabridged, unedited, but ringing victory songs in my ears.
Glassy eyed, I sensed his brokenness. Admitting his own inability, I knew Gospel grace was making its way in.
Through the tears streaming down his face, I looked deep into his eyes and asked if he wanted to know where help comes from.
Sitting him on my lap, I whispered, “…your help’s from above…”. I put two fingers in the shape of the Cross and placed them on his palm.
” This is your hope…our hope.”
It is only the grace of God which saves.
Grace making sense only when sin’s gravity is felt .
But the grace that saves is also the grace that transforms.
And it is in this atmosphere of true grace that sinners can turn saints.
Complete transformation through the work of Christ on the Cross changes the heart even more than mere behavioural modification.
The night felt like the lifting of a shroudy veil. I saw him worshipping in his own little way at Church the next day.
The burden of what he ought to be in his own little strength were falling off his tiny shoulders. And the pressure to produce the perfect child, lifting off my own.
Grace came flooding in like a flood of lights. Nothing feels better in parenting when you’ve got help from high places.
I slowly edged my way towards my little man. Did my own little waltz. How our feet both felt like we were standing on the strongest floor, the firmest ground…