This story begins with a shatter…literally! That’s just life with boys I guess, anything nice or breakable within reach seems to find its way to broken. Oh well…I’m not bitter, so moving on. 😊
As of late, my 19 month old, James, has decided the dishwasher is a place of interest. Needless to say, a one year old and a water goblet are not a good thing to bring together. You know how this story goes…he pulls the glass cup down from the top shelf and in one second, that froze in slow motion, the glass falls to the ground and shatters everywhere! Here I am barefoot, but as any mother would do, I’m more concerned about my babies than myself, so I scoop James up and lock him in his high chair and secure my four year old Jake several feet away. Praise the Lord James nor I were harmed by the glass shattering, so I quickly began the clean-up process. The big pieces are easy to spot no problem, sweep those up, toss them in the trash and you’re good. Those are the ones initially you worry over that can slice right through skin with the deepest cuts. Then you move on to a vacuum those little pieces that we all can miss with the human eye. Everything is good right? No harm done.
Wrong. Then there are always just a few of those little tiny specs, that even the vacuum can miss sometimes. The ones you worry over, and make everybody wear shoes in the kitchen for a few days just to be sure. Stay with me, I’m going somewhere with this…
That afternoon Jake was riding his scooter around the kitchen island as he often does, and I was making lunch. He stopped and reached for something on the floor and said, “Here mom I found another little piece of glass for you.” I quickly reached out my hand and told him not to do that again, because the little pieces can be tricky and cut your finger easily since you can’t see the sharp edges. His response was typical for his independent personality that genuinely was just trying to help. “Mom, I’ll be fine. I’m being careful,” he said. I told him, “I know you are trying to help but I don’t want you to do that again. Come get me next time. I don’t want you to get cut.” And there was a next time. And he didn’t come get me. And I knew as his body started to shake as he lifted his finger off the ground, that the tears were coming and so was the bleeding.
Nurse mommy came to the rescue! Cleared out the glass spec, cleaned up the bleeding and put on an actually needed band-aid (wish I would have thought of this phenomenon). After the tears subsided, his first words out of his mouth were, “I should have listened to you.” Of course it would be easy and natural to throw it in his face at this point that I was right, and I was tempted to do so, but I realized it’s something we are all guilty of all the time. This was one of those teaching moments.
You see this story isn’t about glass. This story is about sin.
I saw I had the opportunity to teach Jake through this mistake something bigger. Life happens. Things shatter everyday. And it leaves us with some real temptations to do the wrong thing, to sin. Those big pieces are obvious…the things that don’t even have to be said to your children. Robbing a bank is bad. Shooting people is bad. Not things you have to tell your children really…it’s just known. Then there are those smaller pieces that you may have to help them see. Push them back to safety and say let me show you this is something you want to avoid based on what the Bible tells us or based on Mommy and Daddy’s experience where we have failed in this area. Be wise in the friends you choose. Obey your teachers at school. Don’t take things that do not belong to you. Marriage is between one man and one woman. The list can go on and on. But typically are things, that with guided direction, your children will understand and will be steered in the right direction.
But then…those little specs. The things they are left on their own to make a decide. Sure, you have told them to be careful. Come to me if you need help. All those Bible stories have to pay off now right?! This is why we discipline because we love them and know we can’t always be there. You think in your head these moments come when they are teenagers so I have time right? Sure, they are heightened in those teen years I’ve learned from working with youth, but these little decisions start much earlier.
If I eat this little piece of candy that mommy told me I couldn’t have when she isn’t looking…if she never knows, one little piece won’t matter. Right? Wrong. Early on the temptation to sneak or tell little lies is just there. It doesn’t make your child any worse or different from another…its human nature. Instilled in us all from birth. You don’t have to teach a toddler to say “no,” you have to teach them to say “yes.” Same goes for not having to teach them to lie but to tell the truth. Sin is part of us when we are born. The “big” ones are obvious. The “medium” ones we seek guidance on. But those little specs…those are the ones that go unnoticed. That won’t harm anything if we are careful and nobody knows, right? Even at 2, 3 and 4 years old children understand this already.
I had a real life example to show Jake that even those tiny specs, that he didn’t need any help with because he was “being careful” and didn’t think there was any harm, it just took one piece to cut him. Make him cry and bleed. Sin is like this. It may seem like you are doing a good thing for yourself. No harm. But then it cuts you. Comes back to get you. Sure sin is sin. The big and very public ones are obvious. But those quiet ones…the little decisions….the ones other people can’t see when you are by yourself or the teacher can’t see you at school…What will you do then?
I know this is true, I deal with the same temptations in the adult world everyday. We all do. And I don’t want to be naive that my children don’t because they are young. It’s funny what the Lord will reveal to you through random everyday things and the opportunities and conversations that will come up that can be used to teach your kids. This was one of those moments for me. Seek these out. Have your spiritual eyes open looking for them. Love them enough to hold them accountable in discipline and lead by example by telling them where you fail. I’m not perfect, and I tell Jake (and will James as he grows to understand) that mommy sins everyday. Sometimes its with my kids in how I’m impatient or respond. I have to ask for their forgiveness often…it definitely keeps me humble! But I have also seen it produce fruit when I see Jake realizing not only he sins…but that we all do, and that is why we need Jesus. That is why he gets disciplined. I see him processing and learning right from wrong with every decision.
He is getting it…I see the dots connecting in his little head. We try not to sweep it under the rug at our house. We talk about. Try to find a lesson in it. Kids understand and observe a lot more than we think they do…I have learned this from teaching preschool for sure the last two years!
This verse always challenges me in parenting: “Preachthe word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching.”
-2 Timothy 4:2-
”Your people” is your family. It starts at home.