For a while, I thought I was doing something wrong as a parent. And if you have a boy (or 2 or 3 or more), you will understand this psychosis. In the calmness of my morning coffee, our 3 sons begin their day at an acceleration level that would make a Porsche jealous. Cereal, bacon and pancakes are eaten as if we live in a concentration camp and may not receive any more food for a week. I’m on the second verse of a wonderful, contemplative Psalm in my morning devotion when full scale war breaks out between the youngest two over who took the last blue Lego. My name is exclaimed to adjudicate the injustice as I witness the oldest on the back deck, barely clothed, shooting squirrels out of an oak tree. Their beautiful mom emerges down the stairs like rose being sucked into a tornado.
Maybe I need to be a firmer disciplinarian? Maybe I need medication? It didn’t help when we got together with our friends with daughters & witnessed the princesses playing happily and quietly with a doll in a corner for 45 minutes. I get it why some people choose to exchange their morning coffee for a Bloody Mary!
It’s not always this way…there are actually frequent moments when “mama” emerges, everything briefly stops and there are hugs all around. There are SO many great qualities embedded in the energy of these little people. For the parent in this situation, it takes prayer and advance planning…as if a flash flood is coming, but you are in charge of where the water goes.
For the past couple of weeks on gentleness, we keep revisiting this idea:
Gentleness is power under control
The best hands-on illustration of this for our boys was the day we took them to an indoor putt-putt place. The first few rounds went well…even a hole-in-one by the 6-year-old! But since the youngest set the bar so high, this quickly became THE goal for every hole. Adrenaline was pumping. This resulted in a narrow miss to the face when our “center child” hit the ball too hard, ricocheting off a giant dinosaur toward two teen girls innocently playing their round at Green #12. (The second time this happened, I pretended to not know whose child that was.) At other times, the ball was simply not hit hard enough, resulting in the slow backwards roll right back to starting position, and demands for a mulligan.
This week’s lesson for our little guys was this: how they are learning to handle themselves at this point in life is like their putt-putt game. Sometimes I see them exert too much power…like when playtime starts out fun but escalates to a point where someone gets injured. Sometimes I see them exert not enough power…like when homework is supposed to be completed or a room cleaned up “the way mom would do it.” But when power is used correctly, at just the right level, you win and so do those around you.
One more compliment & admonition for them this week: whenever they are around young ladies, they naturally become gentlemen. “Let’s try to remember that mom is a lady and not one of the guys!”
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness… (Gal. 5:22-23)
As adults, power tends to go to our heads and is easily abused. Sometimes even our identities get all wrapped up in it. This is true of governments and churches. Without the Holy Spirit, I’m not sure it can be controlled.