Wednesday, October 28

What a week!

It started last week, when I found out I was a loser. This occurred at the same time that Chris and I started going through a devotion book together. It is a life-changing book that peels back the cushiony layers and encourages you to live an authentic life. Sounds good, but peeling off layers hurts. It is supposed to be a good hurt, but Chris and I both underwent some spiritual warfare with each step forward. Still, we prayed through it and, though the feeling didn't leave, we kept working through it.

After asking forgiveness from the kids and from God, I did a huge habit overhaul. Joel still had attitude. It wasn't an unforgiveness for past things, this I could understand lingering. No, the child still felt he had it rough and didn't appreciate having chores to do. Anytime something came up that wasn't his favorite: attitude. He's a sweet, sweet child and doesn't sass or complain but you can feel his troubled emotions hanging heavy in the air around him. I attempted a test. I didn't insert a "fun" item into his workbox fun folder. I inserted Spelling. He said nothing to me, but complained to Ethan. Then, I asked him to load the dishwasher for me. The counter was full of breakfast dishes, only one of which was Joel's. Again, not a word to me, but there was no doubt it was there.

We sat down for a chat.

We've had dozens of chats on this topic and I had nothing that touched him. He was angry with me for giving him a chore. On a whim that was hopefully inspired by God, I announced, "Fine. You are hereby relieved of your chores. Until you can understand that chores are a blessing to have, you do not get to do them."

Hours later, he did the happy dance when his schoolwork was finished and he was able to go straight to playing. He contentedly read his book while I vacuumed the floor in front of him...a job that used to belong to him. But when we went on an errand, he tried buckling the girls carseats. I wouldn't let him. "It's part of contributing to the running of our family. You don't do that anymore, remember?" The next day, he tried to run the dishwasher, but it was done in front of me and for me, not because he at all saw a blessing in it. I stopped the dishwasher and thanked him but explained the difference.

Chris thought I was nuts, but supported me. By day 2, when I just knew he was going to crack, he didn't. I started to think I was nuts.

Tonight, Ethan stayed in the gym after church to play with friends and catch a ride with our neighbor. Joel asked if he could stay, too, and I said no. He was brooding in the back seat (I could physically feel it) and I explained that, just like he didn't want Ethan to join him with his class hiking trip because he had wanted to 'do his own thing', I felt that Ethan should have opportunities to do his own thing with his peers sometimes, as well. It was all gentle and just, but I asked him how he felt about it and he said he was upset. Still.

I clarified - upset as in disappointed or upset as in angry with me? Upset with me. I said "That's IT. Couch. You. Me. NOW."

We had us a little chat about a well known group of people called the Israelites, popularly known as "the grumblers" who weren't so great at being thankful sometimes. We talked about how imperfect his Mama is and about how that's just too bad because I'm the mama God gave him. I apologized for the times I've disappointed him and assured him there would be many more. I asked him what benefit had come from his grumbling and he had nothing. I asked him what harm had come from his grumbling and he wasn't sure. So I told him that the grumbling turns him into a grumbly person. It's ugly. It makes us discontent and even bitter. It is contagious and once we start, it's hard to stop. Often, we find ourselves grumbling to other people and then THEY catch the grumbling bug and we've harmed two people. But most importantly, grumbling about someone changes the way we FEEL about that person. Even if that person never finds out we've grumbled, there is a wall between us and we treat them differently. And if that person ever hears about our grumbling, it can make their heart ache. Nothing good comes from grumbling, but lots of hurt comes from it. A lightbulb went off in his brain. You could see awareness hit his eyeballs. He said, "I didn't realize I was doing that! Mama, I am so sorry. Will you forgive me for grumbling?"

I about fell over.

All the praying, lecturing, examples, and worrying.....nothing got through to him. Somehow though, this did it.

More to come later.....


Andrea said...

Wow! I sure need some of that technique! I have a "Nelly Negative" over here... in fact, I call him that sometimes, even though I know I shouldn't. He's at the age of wanting to do nothing, and then grumbles and complains when he has to.

I'm glad Joel finally gets it. Things will now be much easier for you!

Nezzy said...

Sometimes it's like driving a nail into a rock....then it finally gives.
Hang in there girl your doing a great job! Love ya and have an ungrumbly day!!!

Shanna said...

You know...I think I probably deserve that lecture as well.
Thanks, Mom! ;-)

Jenni said...

You know, I don't know how many times I've read about the Israelites and all their grumbling and backsliding and just shook my head in wonder over it. I don't think I've ever seen my own grumbling, unthankful attitude quite in that light like I did while reading this post. Uh, duh! Why did I think God put it in His Word time and time again? Surely not to prove how naughty the Israelites were. It just couldn't be there for an example to *us*, could it? This was a great post, Jenn. Thank you!

Ginger@chirgies said...

Those light bulb moments are worth their weight in gold! Way to go Momma!

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