I never know how to start these things. And after a title like, "Your Poop Stinks" I feel like I owe y'all an explanation.
For those of you just joining me, I have two of the most amazing little boys that God has ever created. They're smart, funny, gentle, loving, wonderful, and a joy to have in my life. They're also stubborn, moody, disobedient, and impossible to please some days. They complain about dinners that I spent an hour making. They fight sleep like it would physically kill them to stop moving for more than 30 seconds. Also, they have some seriously toxic poop. Like, not kidding. Now, when I change the 2 year old's diapers, they go directly in the outside garbage.
And I am head over heels in love with every part of them. They've taught me more about the goodness of God in the last 5 years than I have learned in the 30 years prior.
I'm stubborn - far more than my boys. I'm moody. I don't like being told what to do. And if I haven't eaten all day, I am impossible to deal with. I use more profanity than I should. I can be bitingly sarcastic when I'm tired, usually at the people that love me the most and are trying to help.
I'm not going to re-hash this completely, but in a past blog I wrote about how good it can feel sometimes to come clean and be completely honest with yourself. Instead of justifying every behavior that I come up with, why don't I learn to say, "I blew it. I'm sorry" make a plan to do better, and teach my children to do the same?
I realized two things with that particular post: One, I can't be the guiding force in my children's lives forever. Two, if I build their self-confidence and self-esteem up to unreasonable levels, I may end up destroying my children.
I love, love, LOVE speaking life into my sons. They know that Mom thinks that they're wonderful, that I am blessed to be their mom, and that I am so very, very happy they were born. But they also know that Mom will not tolerate rebellion and fighting, that their actions have consequences, and that if I have to pick something up after I've told them to, they have to earn it back.
Why? Because sometimes their behavior is NOT acceptable. They are broken little sinners just like we all are! And while I can teach them self-control, healthy ways to self-soothe and cope with big emotions, there is a limit. Everyone screws up; everyone will fall at some point. Will Mom and Dad be there forever to catch them? Absolutely not.
But if I've done my job, then maybe I won't have to. I can't in good conscience teach my kids that Mom and Dad will always be there for you, because we won't. We can't. But if I teach them how to listen to the Holy Spirit, how to hear his voice, then whatever the circumstances, they can survive them.
What if instead of teaching them that they can do anything they put their mind to, that they can do anything that God has told them to do? Because lets face it; we've all made plans and tried things, and God had some grace and mercy on us and saw to it that none of it succeeded.
What if instead of teaching them that they are God's gift to the planet, we tried teaching them that we are an earthen vessel, with a store of heaven inside.
What if instead of building up their self-esteem with some unreasonable affirmation, I teach them who they are in Christ - because of who Christ is.
Here's the deal. If you have accepted Christ as your Savior, that does indeed make you a Child of the King. But that has ZERO to do with you, and EVERYTHING to do with how amazing our Father is. Our best is filth in light of the perfection that is offered in His Grace. HE paid a debt we could never pay. HE adopted us. He loves us when we're miserable little turds that whine when we don't get our way.
Let me be super clear on this: I will always be my children's biggest cheerleader. But I feel like I've done them a huge disservice if I've somehow convinced them that they're such great people, that they really don't need to lean into the God that can offer better guidance, wisdom, and encouragement than I ever could. Only He is the perfect parent; I'm just playing along.
I can't be the guiding force in his life.
My husband is the most brilliant, strong, kind, wise man on Earth. But even he can't be the gold standard.
My job is not to build up his self-confidence. My job is to point him to Christ.
I can either teach him to build a sandcastle, or I can teach him how an actual house is built. One of those is built in a day, and everyone will oooh and ahhhh at how remarkable it is. Yet, a storm comes in, and no one will remember it. The other takes time. The better the house is, the longer it can take to build. I want to teach them how to build a house with a tornado shelter. Living here in tornado alley, I've seen a storm level even the finest homes. But those homes that had a safe place: everyone survived. They may have lost everything and their world was literally shaken to the core, but the foundation, the shelters, were in place.
I want my sons to have that kind of faith. But that doesn't come with participation trophies. It doesn't come with sweet words, flattery, and gifts. It comes with character, responsibility, and instruction. And that's harder. Harder for everyone. But every day I see a lot of sandcastles walking around, and I see the devastation it causes.
I can't build my children up to the point they don't understand Grace and then wonder why they won't listen to His voice. I can't allow their excuses and then wonder why they can't repent.