There are tears at dinner and someone wants to be excused. What happened to family time and lively discussions? To "how was your day" and "great soup, mom"?
The soup is cold and the stare, it goes right through.
All my warm-fuzzies disappear and I am frustrated. Selfishness abounds in our jars of clay, and I really am no different. I really could use a good dose of sound judgement.
So my husband and I, we are partners in this thing called parenting and we tag-team. He talks, I pray. I talk, he prays.
We choose carefully but probe the hearts, push over barriers, dig up roots. Maybe we point out too much, things that the Holy Spirit can reveal better than our words do. We pray He uses our words and pray He shapes them before they enter our children's hearts.
We are trying to do this right, to train without provocation.
And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord. ~ Eph. 6:4
But there are bitternesses that build when parental eyes aren't watching, and habits. Always those habits.
The mother who takes pains to endow her children with good habits secures for herself smooth and easy days; while she who lets their habits take care of themselves has a weary life of endless friction with the children. — Charlotte Mason
The mother who takes pains.
So many habits seem to form painlessly, and it's the effort of training in good habits that wearies. There are so many rules we could make and thou-shalts that we could throw down, but the heart is not trained by vaporous words, is it?
We pray for Life to breath into this mealtime.
No one is excused from the table of hard fellowship, because fellowship and family are not about warm-fuzzies and can't- everyone-just-be-nice.
This is the hard work of family.
I say it several times this week, to friends hurting and children wanting solitude. Living with people is hard work and God grows us all up in that love-labor, where we do the confronting and the repenting and the working it all out because He worked it all out. And sometimes it only works out in us, not them.
I try to live those words I say.
It's the hard work that means the job is worthwhile, right? This is all worth the pain and the yuck that we stir-up? Because I prefer an easy life with smiling people. I prefer to be the one excused from the table sometimes.
After dinner, there is repentance. A long talk with the one who prefers silence, repentance from one who heard Life breathed through vaporous-words-redeemed. Tonight we can sleep with the grace-covering.
The adults and children alike have learned something, all of us working out this walking together. All of us made in His image. All of us needing grace. We learn (again) that words have power and wounds left to fester will eventually burst open, and we learn that running away from the table of hard fellowship doesn't solve problems.
Two things I intend to train as habits, in myself and my children:
- Walk circumspectly - Eph. 5:15-16 (watch your time and how it's spent)
- be kind, tenderhearted, forgiving - Eph. 4:32 (watch your words and how you use them)
Dinner sometimes becomes about more than eating, with more dirt than food on the table. Let's pass the antacids, roll up our sleeves, and work it out.