Last night, one of my teen boys came up from behind me when I was getting ready for bed, and sheepishly told me, “I’m sorry I was so rotten when we were doing math…”
“I forgive you, baby.” He’d been angry, but I knew it was at himself, and not me. He doesn’t like to make math mistakes. Or any other, for that matter.
“You must be really mad at me,” he said.
“Oh? Why do you say that?” I asked, puzzled. I hadn’t been. I didn’t take any of the interaction personally, and I remember feeling sad for him, for how hard he was trying and how frustrated he was.
“I was really rude. You didn’t deserve that.” OH. Still mad at self.
“I am not mad at you at all, I love you to pieces and I feel bad that the exchange upset you so much, but I’m not mad at you.” I put my arms around him.
“Oh. Good.” His whole body, tense, relaxed in my arms.
“I would like to see you be able to handle making mistakes – everyone does, you know. Why do you think you get so upset about it?” I asked.
“Pride. I don’t like to fail.” He responded.
“Last time I checked, a ‘B’ isn’t failing. But yah, it’s pride. You know (name of relative who behaves like this all the time) struggles with that, right?” I asked.
His eyes grew wide.
YAY! Lightbulbs going on.
Said relative is a treasure to us, but heaven forbid if this person makes a mistake.
Like Nero’s fits of rage, one of which instigated at his wife’s encouragement over how he covered dropping the scepter in an acting scene, he couldn’t stand to not be perfect so he killed her.
Toddlers with temper tantrums in grown up bodies – these are things we need to help our children avoid becoming!
“I want to see you continue to get better at this – do your best first, then don’t take it as a measure of who you are if you make a mistake, okay? It makes it challenging and unpleasant to deal with your anger when you are like that, and it can put stress on your relationships with your family.” I rubbed his head.
“I am working on it. I hate it when I do that,” he says.
“I know. I can tell. Are you ready to finish the problems?” I inquired.
And even when he missed a few, he behaved well. YAY!
I love progress.
So does our Father.
Proverbs 15:1 says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath.”
Lord, I pray you help us all have a gentle answer for others – that we have such a healthy view of ourselves such that we not take things personally. I pray our gentle answer turns away wrath from other people, and from You. Please fill us with your Spirit – we can’t do this on our own! In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
The longer I know Him, (and I have SO far to go – and love the journey!) the more I am beginning to see that there is a stark contrast between being a “doormat” and being filled with His grace. I confess that I’ve “stuffed” feelings of anger and frustration in the past, trying to “show grace.” That’s not what He wants for us – regardless of how we look on the outside, it’s our hearts He wants to change.
And as He does this, we find His peace there.
I desperately yearn for more of Him in my life – and ache for you to have this, too.
Daring all of us today to ask Him how pride makes us take things personally – and to trust Him with the laying down of our life, so much so that we can think like Christ, who said, “Forgive them, Father, they know not what they do.”
Thankful for the journey!