Lately, the most frustrating parenting challenge in my home is listening. While my children are generally respectful and well behaved, I am starting to see a pattern of behavior that is exhausting me. I have endless examples just this week.
With age six has come a sense of confidence and independence that is commendable but also frightening. Parking lots are my biggest nightmare. R, especially, feels that he is 'too big' to hold hands and bounds ahead of me as if he were indestructible. Three times in two days he has put himself in a very dangerous positions despite my repeated reminders to 'wait, 'freeze' or 'stop!'
When not dismissing my warnings with a flippant attitude of, "Moo-oom, I will be careful. I know!" R is often busy building his case for why his ideas are better than mine. R is a very bright, verbal boy. He knows what he wants and is not afraid of going head to head with me to get it. While I appreciate his critical thinking skills, he runs afoul of me frequently by subtly communicating a belief that he is simply smarter than me.
At the pool this afternoon I asked him several times to pack up his things. He took his time. When I called his name he would sigh and assert that he was doing other important things. Then, just as we were finally leaving he fell apart over how 'starving' he was and in need of a snack.
"That's why I have been trying to get you to pack up, son. I have a snack waiting in the car."
R is not the only child guilty of this type of behavior. His examples just came to mind first.
P had two examples of his own today too--the first almost resulted in a serious sunburn, the second in a bee sting. Both times were a direct result of not listening.
As I lectured my three today on listening and obedience I reminded them that my commands generally are rooted in one of two things: protecting them or providing for them.
I couldn't help but think about how we (sinful people) respond so similarly to our Heavenly Father.
My precious offspring have found multiple creative alternatives to listening to my voice. Sometimes they ignore me, never even turning to acknowledge my voice. Usually, it is not that blatant. Instead they will look as if their listening, but not do what I have requested either out of sheer rebellion or a prideful belief that they don't need my input. Sometimes they conveniently 'forget.' There are many times when they get distracted or overwhelmed and my voice simply gets crowded out. Still other times they don't like my message so they argue back or try to persuade me that their way is better.
I can think of multiple examples from my own life when I have treated God the Father the same way. As frustrating as it is as a Mom to feel ignored, disobeyed and pushed aside--I cannot fathom what God must feel. His way IS the best way--always.
There is one correct, obedient, respectful, loving response when a parent calls a child: "Yes?"
He is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.
Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts. Psalm 95:7-8a (NIV)