Ana came out of Sunday school the other day with a brownie.
Emma, who is still in the preschool department on Sunday mornings, had just come from class where she had enjoyed some donuts. She couldn’t have possibly been hungry. Still, though, the sight of her sister with a BROWNIE had her proclaiming that she was famished.
“Ana, let your sister have part of that brownie,” I told her.
Ana looked down at the small bite remaining (which would have been the perfect size to give to Emma)… and she popped it into her own mouth.
This caused a whole lot of drama and hysteria… mostly on my part. Why would she be like that? And why would Emma have done exactly the same thing? How can they be like this? How can they be so selfish? Where have I gone wrong as their mother? They’re five and six — shouldn’t they be miniature saints by now?!
I reprimanded them both — Ana for being selfish, and Emma for being angry with her. Then, I literally stewed over this the whole sermon. I just couldn’t believe that all my best efforts had led to brownie-gobbling behavior. We went out to lunch, where I tried to explain my frustration to Wes. While he was listening, he reached over and grabbed one of MY fries. Yes, one of MY fries! While I was contemplating grabbing HIS fries off HIS plate just for spite (let’s see how he likes THAT!), it hit me…
… I wouldn’t have wanted to give Emma my brownie either!
I read a blog written by an older woman who writes for an audience of young wives and mothers. She’s very conservative and very biblical, and I’ve been blessed, challenged, and encouraged more than once by what she’s written. From time to time, though, she writes posts about raising children and tells how she stopped disobedience and acting out in her children as early as two years old. All of her children are now faithful, loving, God-fearing grown adults, and I don’t doubt for a second that her recollections of their obedient and model childhoods are accurate. When she says her children were angels from their second birthdays and on, I believe her!
But, wow. That is so not the case here at the Faulk house! I can do the same things, believe the very same philosophies, and pray just as hard as I can, and I’m still left with two tiny heathen. And what irks me most about the way that they act — the very sin in their lives — is that I’m just as guilty of the very same things, the very same sins. And I have LOADS more sin than they do (and less justification because I certainly know better), if we’re being totally honest. All this makes me feel even more responsible for what they do, for who they’re becoming, and for how they stand with God. And I should feel responsibility as their mother, but when it comes down to the very heart of it, can I really be responsible for their sin? I can lead them away from it and teach them against it, but in the end, it’s THEIR sin, and it’s between them and God.
I truly believe that if we train our children in the ways that they should go, they will not depart from them when they’re old. But, God bless them, they are their mother’s children, and they’re going to try to hoard their fries and brownies because sharing is not fun. I’m learning that as I lead them to follow God and to be more like Jesus, I have to leave room for grace because grace is certainly all that I’ve received in my own life.