Upstairs putting the baby down for his nap, I heard a sound that has become far too frequent lately; my two older sons’ anger turning to wild screams as they (from the way it sounded) tried to kill each other.
I felt the anger welling up inside because 1) it’s not fair that I can’t leave them alone for a minute or two to take care of their little brother and 2) it’s been happening so much lately that it makes me feel like strangling them both.
Thankfully for them and me, I decided to ask God for help.
“It makes me angry,” I said. “I don’t know what to do… but I know if I’m getting this angry about it it’s been going on too long.”
“Help me to handle this the way you would,” I said quickly as I tucked baby in bed and headed downstairs.
The main problem is that I don’t know who to blame in these situations, since I wasn’t there. This is a problem the boys seem to understand far beyond their years and maturity level, which makes them take full advantage of my short absences.
But this time it seemed they were both clearly at fault, since they were wrestling over a section of the couch but neither one was stuck and both could have decided to simply walk away.
I decided to take action. My voice got deeper and louder than usual, and I separated the boys. I administered two rounds of discipline, not allowing them to scream back at me in anger or stamp their feet on the floor.
Things quieted down and I stood up and talked to them from across the room. It wasn’t time for hugs but repentance. I told them to ask God to forgive them. They did, pretty meekly. Then I told them to ask me to forgive them. They did one by one, and then I called them forward for hugs.
The most amazing part to me was how their attitude toward me improved. I would have thought they would have nursed a grudge and hid in their rooms. It was the opposite. It was almost like they had been wanting me to do this all day, and were relieved I finally had.
It just proves to me (yet again) that often God is stronger in dealing with people than I am. I want to talk about things (what I had been trying to do with my kids all day), and He wants to take action and confront the issues of the heart.
And the Lord is more evenhanded than me. I would sacrifice myself (allow the kids to walk all over me) while getting more and more angry inside (I have to be honest), but this isn’t from God. As I followed the leading of the Holy Spirit, God stood up for me more than I would have.
The Lord tells us to discipline our children, but the culture, sometimes our relatives and even the Devil want us to look the other way instead. I’ll end with a short Scripture that has encouraged me when I’m tempted to give up inside:
“Discipline your children, for in that there is hope” (NIV) and I like the NLT’s translation of the second half of the verse: “Otherwise you will ruin their lives.”