It’s Friday, and it’s time for another installment of Confession Friday! As I sat down to write this post, I realized only one major confession was coming to mind. So this post is all about one big mistake. A big mistake from my kids, that resulted in a big mistake from me, that resulted in a moment of parental clarity that I will carry with me always.
This week a few of my kids made a big mistake. It involved a mini-ATV (it’s a kid-size one) and our pond. Three of my 5 kids were involved. First off, let me say that we have a rule that the ATV is not allowed down by the pond. And it’s not like they didn’t know the rule. So, on that day, one child came inside tattling on another child, and it had nothing to do with an ATV being upside-down in the pond. I came out to call in the other child. While I was out there, though, the 3rd child comes walking toward the house, sopping wet. When I inquired about what happened, I found out she had been driving the ATV, and one of her brothers had pushed on the back of it (another big no-no), and she fell into the pond. Thankfully, she wasn’t hurt. But boy, was I mad. I laid into those kids like there was no tomorrow. I was so mad. Can I say that again? I was really, really mad. I was so mad, that about a 1/2 hour later, I had to call our kids into the family room to apologize for how mad I was. And that was hard for me to do.
You see, the little devil on my shoulder (I’m speaking metaphorically, here, there really was no devil. At least, I don’t think there was…not literally, anyway) was telling me, “Those kids deserve everything they got! How many times have you told them they don’t take care of their things? How many times have they left out toys, only to have those toys destroyed by rain? How many times have you told them NOT to take the ATV by the pond? Or never to touch the ATV when someone else is driving it?” The answer, of course, was many, many, many, many times. And that little devil kept going, “Those kids don’t appreciate anything! They are so irresponsible and ungrateful and have no concern for the amount of time and money that goes into buying things for them! What kind of parent are you that your kids STILL don’t understand this?!” And on and on it went. Until…
Until the little angel (or that little helper I like to call the Holy Spirit) whispered a few choice words into my ear: “Yes, they are irresponsible. Yes, they lack understanding and experience and foreknowledge. Yes, they can be annoying. Because they’re kids.” Oh. Yeah. I kinda forgot. You mean they don’t worry about the future? Or think about how an action may unfold into something tragic? Or consider how they might offend me with their behavior? Isn’t that why being a child is so great? At some point, us adults lose that innocence. How many times have you said to yourself, “If only I could go back and have the knowledge I have now…” But see, it wouldn’t work that way. If we had the knowledge we have now back when we were children, we wouldn’t have been the carefree beings that Jesus so cherished in the Bible. It’s the logic that makes us adults lose that sweet innocence. Once we are old enough to really see things for what they are, and to worry about how we are going to pay for our next round of grocery shopping or replace that old car that desperately needs to be retired, we can no longer just BE. We have to carry the weight of that knowledge. Which is probably why in Matthew 6:25-27 it says, “ “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Alas, if only we were like children…
And so, I called the kids into the family room. I told them the ATV was just a thing and I should not be so upset over a thing. No one died. No limbs were broken. No injuries happened. And I apologized. I told them I was wrong to get so upset over a thing. Yes, I was still flippin’ angry that this $250+ ATV was destroyed, and they still were grounded for their mistake. But really? In the scheme of things, it doesn’t matter. Yes, I want them to appreciate what they have. I want them to take care of their things. I want them to take something new and cherish it, protect it, and not leave it outside laying on the ground. But I sure as heck didn’t do that when I was a kid. I specifically remember my grandma talking to my mom one day and saying “us kids” (my siblings and I) didn’t take care of our things and didn’t appreciate things like we should. So this is no new problem.
So, the question is: how do I get my children to appreciate their things? I have no idea. Actually, I think it comes with age…and maturity. But ultimately, who cares? They’re just things. They’re not going with them when they die. They have no eternal significance whatsoever. Again, this doesn’t mean I don’t want to teach my children how to take care of their possessions. I do. But, allowing myself to get so angry over something that is so typical of children is not acceptable. Ultimately, I want them to know that
God matters. And would God be pleased if you took a gift received and treated it disrespectfully? I don’t think so. It’s all about where our hearts are. We should be taking care of our things, because that is what a person of faith does. We treat our bodies as our temples, and we treat gifts with respect. And that, my friends, is where the lesson is.
Oh, and as a side note: the ATV still works! Miraculously, after nearly 20 minutes under water, the next day, it turned on just fine.