One of the general behavior issues we have been dealing with in my home full of 7 year olds is impulsiveness and the lack of self control. I have been especially grateful for the curriculum our church has been covering with the children on Wednesday nights: Proverbs--and specifically, wisdom versus foolishness. The foundation has been laid for some great conversations regarding decision making, actions and reactions--pursuing wisdom and fleeing from foolishness.
The phrase that has resonated most with my trio, however, was born (out of all things) from a recent discussion of tanning salons. As we were driving past a strip mall a couple of weeks ago, K noticed a tanning salon.
"Mom, do people really go there even though that causes cancer?" she asked.
"Yes, they do."
"But, why, Mommy?" she pressed.
"Well, honey, they just want to get a quick tan because they like the way it looks. They are only thinking about now--they aren't thinking about what happens next." I replied.
At least 6 times in the week that followed, I found myself using that phrase when explaining why something wasn't a good choice.
"Think about what happens next..."
They really are starting to grasp the concept. This week I have even overheard them reminding each other, "think about what happens next."
Consequences. This is not just a lesson for our children. I was recently with a friend whose life is in turmoil, complicated greatly by an inappropriate relationship. As I listened to the back story of all the factors that led to the relationship I couldn't help but think about the dozens and dozens of decisions that were made to lower guardrails and take one small step at a time towards sin with devastating consequences. After we had been talking for a while, I asked my friend (with far more curiosity than judgment), "What did you think was going to happen? How did you think this was all going to turn out?"
A tearful, broken stare looked back at me.
Isn't it true for most of us that the real problem lies in the fact that we don't stop to ask ourselves this most basic question. It is true of me far more often than I would like to admit.
When I am frustrated and want to fire off a biting remark,
when sending an e-mail to defend my pride would feel great,
when I want to overeat,
share a story I have heard about someone else,
yell at my children...
Rather than thinking only about how good it will feel in the moment, I would be well-served to pause and ask myself, "what happens next?"