This school year I have been serving in my church's ministry to children on Wednesday nights. The hour-long slot begins with a time of worship and teaching in large group before we divide by gender and grade for the last 20 minutes. That first 40 minutes with 40+ other wild elementary students at the end of a long school day can be especially challenging for my sons to sit through. They are not alone. The environment (plus Spring fever) seems to make it exceedingly difficult for the 1st grade boys in general to keep their hands to themselves.
Most weeks one (or both) of my boys will end up leaving the group and coming to sit against the wall with me. Sometimes it is after they have gotten a few correcting glances from me...other times they choose to sit with me almost from the beginning. It is what they need to do to stay out of trouble.
I should note that is not just ordinary sitting. It is generally a wallowing, leaning, almost clinging kind of sitting. At first I didn't know what to make of it. Self-critical thoughts would run through my head like:
Aren't they a little old for this?
You have not done a good job of teaching them self control.
What would they do if you weren't in here?
They are so clingy.
And as it so often happens in motherhood, I expect them to be perfect and 'perform' then I allow that unmet expectation to become about me and my failures. Ugh.
A few Wednesday nights ago as I was wrestling through all of this in my head, I paused long enough to listen to the teaching going on despite the wiggly children. Ironically (or not :-) we have been discussing Proverbs on wisdom versus foolishness for the last several months. This old favorite verse jumped out at me in an undeniable way:
The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty. Proverbs 22:3 NIV
In the New International Readers Version it is translated this way, "Wise people see danger and go to a safe place." My sons were showing wisdom when they opted to flee the mischief and cling to me. As 7 year old boys in a group setting, leaving the temptation and clinging to me was not embarrassing for me or them--it was something to celebrate.
It is what Scripture calls us to do...flee temptation and mischief and cling to Him for safety and protection. Our efforts to stand on our own two feet in the face of temptation fly in the face of Scripture's exhortation to 'lean not on our own understanding' and instead hide ourselves in the shelter His arms.
Lord, make me clingy like my children.