Tacking Grumble Spots #5 – Eyes on the Prize
If you’re just discovering this series, I suggest you go back to the beginning to discover what grumble spots are. Then take a look at the other posts in the series where I try to tackle them!
I just love how patient the Lord is with His children, especially this mama. I sure wish – boy do I wish – I could exemplify His long-suffering love with those around me. Regretfully, my behavior can sometimes resemble that of the unjust steward (Luke 16) in the way I forgive/overlook offenses or even the Pharisees who spouted a standard of perfection which they didn’t possess themselves. In both instances, they were looking around and not up and in. We mimic them when we “major on the minors”, don’t forgive and expect perfection in ourselves and others. This pattern cannot last long unchecked in the heart of believer. Thankfully, God mercifully deals with this mama when I catch myself in such an attitude. Boy, am I a miserable, complaining mess until He does.
Do you know what causes all this mess and muck? When I take my eyes off my eternal purpose, I nearly always begin relating in a wrong way to those around me. My behavior shows my altered focus because I start making minor things a big deal, especially in my home. Unmade beds, socks on the floor, messy schoolwork, empty wrappers on the counter, getting up late, mismatched clothes, dirty hands, paint on the carpet and the like become the primary corrective/instructive focus. But what of the heart of my kids? Sure, I want to teach them obedience, responsibility and thoughtfulness, but to what end? So that they and my home can look pristine? To address those sorts of things primarily without taking a look at the eternal picture is a tragically lost opportunity and makes for a grumbling mama.
I desperately long to respond in those moments with a teachable, humble spirit and allow the Lord to bring my eyes upward. I want to remember that my kiddos need to follow Jesus infinitely more than they need made beds and clean plates. I do not want them to think that all of those things are more important to mama than a passionate desire to obey the Lord and progressively grow in Him.
I have been reflecting on this quite a bit and I’ve come up with the focus and response I WANT to have in my home:
- To messiness: I’m glad you’re enjoying all these things, but now it’s time to take care of all that God has given to us.
- To laziness: Let’s be thankful for the brains and muscles we have and put them to work!
- To whining/complaining: (In a quiet voice) Take a deep breath. You are not being kind and thankful. Would you like to try again?
And here are some general uplifting, eternally-focused words and patterns and I painstakingly trying to include in my speech/behavior:
- “There are so many things you can do very well!”
- “You can always stop, ask for help and start again. It’s never too late to do right.”
- “Mommy makes mistakes, too.”
- “Can you forgive me? I didn’t show love like Jesus does.”
- “I want to help. I know you are having very big feelings right now and aren’t sure what to do.”
- Having a truly loving attitude (I Cor. 13) that starts with assuming the best and not being self-seeking (i.e., focused on how their behavior affects ME ).
Of course, the Proverbs need to be on my tongue regularly. There is so much practical help in that precious book. And the very nature of it (instruction of parent to child) helps me remember that my home is a classroom – homeschool or not. I am teaching them with my responses to frustrations, worries, authority, sadness and other big emotions. They will see more of what Jesus truly means to me in those moments than anything else. What impact will that have on their own desire to follow the Lord? What will my life teach them about daily surrender and worship? As for all that other stuff, I have many years to teach them. They cannot be expected to learn anything the first time with permanence and perfect execution. The Lord does not require this of me and I cannot of them.
Now, I say all this with a finger pointed squarely back at my face. Relinquishing my quest of perfection and embracing the real task of lifetime discipleship is one way to keep a grumbling heart at bay. May I heed not only the words of Proverbs, but also these that the Lord has given me in a moment of tender dedication to obey. Lord, please help us with this – the most precious of endeavors.