I was tired. My head hurt. It was pushing 7:30, and I hadn’t had dinner. My baseball game had just started. I had just put on my pajamas. Then the printer ran out of ink.
No big deal, right? I could grab some when I went out the next day. Nope. My older daughter had an essay due in the morning, and she was printing off the final copy to turn in. I knew I had to make a trip to the store. And I didn’t want to. All I wanted to do was sit in my nice, warm house in my comfy pajamas, eat my dinner and watch the Red Sox in the World Series.
All weekend, I had been helping my daughter with her various homework projects. It seemed they were all due on Monday. I even took both girls with me when I went jean shopping (for me) to give my husband a few minutes to himself. It was my turn for a little solitude and relaxation, wasn’t it?
I threw the words, “I’m going to the store to get a printer cartridge” at my kids and my husband and quite literally stomped up the stairs to get my keys and jacket. My older daughter yelled “I’m sorry” at me on the way.
I got in the car and drove to Wal-Mart, stewing all the while. And then I heard it. That still, small voice that said, “Isn’t this the exact behavior you’ve been trying to correct in your daughter? Where do you think she gets it from?”
Whoa. Ouch. I’m not that bad, am I? But I stopped for a moment, and I realized that in this instance, I was that bad. I was giving my daughters, especially my younger daughter, the exact example of the behavior we’ve spent the past three months trying to correct.
When I tell my girls to do something, I want them to do it with a minimum of complaining, even if it’s not something they want to do. Yet, when my plans got changed the other night, I was the one stomping and complaining. I was the one with a poor attitude.
The truth is that my daughter can’t learn to follow the words of Philippians 2:14-16 (Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the skyas you hold firmly to the word of life) if I’m not showing her how. If she sees and hears me grumble and complain every time something interrupts my plans or I have to do something I dislike, then that’s what she learns.
For her to learn to not grumble and argue about things, she needs an example of how that’s done. She needs me to see doing things for my family as an act of service. She needs me to work at the things I dislike as if I’m doing them for God instead of man. Because that’s what I’m expecting of her. And that’s what God expects of us both.
As I walked through Wal-Mart (quickly because I did still want to get home and watch my game), God spoke to my heart. He forced me to recognize the same behavior in myself that I find in my kids. And that’s tough. It doesn’t feel good to know that you have to let God work on you before He can work on your kids.
But I’m grateful for that moment of enlightenment because I have a better grasp on where I’m at, and yesterday, I was able to spend some time talking with my daughter about how we all struggle with doing things that we don’t like without grumbling. I was able to point out that God’s still working on me, too.