Last Sunday night we had 50+ people to our house to celebrate Christmas with our local Young Life leaders. It was a sweet time of food, fellowship and hot cider that culminated with Christmas carols sung to acoustic guitar, banjo and percussion box. As I was cleaning up the house after the guests had left, I discovered a precious handwritten note my R had left by the back door.
I posted it on Instagram with the remark "what he lacks in spelling and presentation he makes up for in hospitality." It was a sweet memory that I needed to mark as much for myself as anyone else--because there is much more to the story.
Just that morning, the same child had treated an IHOP waitress terribly. He made a scene reminiscent of a toddler meltdown over butter being put on his French toast despite his request to leave it off. I don't even want to recount the story because it was so mortifiying. My nine and a half year old climbed under the table. He cried. When the server apologized, he growled. It was all so offensive.
Respect for other people--especially those who are serving--is a non-negotiable for me. It is easily in my top five values. And the fact that we were all dressed up in our church clothes--in a crowded restaurant--pushed all my buttons. I was very disappointed in his behavior and, frankly, I was humiliated as a mother. I could physically feel my need for the approval of all those strangers nudging out my concern as a mother for reaching this child's heart. My thoughts were of punishment, not on addressing respect for others and self control in a meaningful way. Even when he sought out the two servers he had been so ugly to and offered apology, I found myself wanting desperately to defend myself as a mother.
Me, me, me, me, me. Pride. YUCK!
Turns out this lesson was as much for me as it was for my boy.
For every stare we received at IHOP, there was a compliment for what a kind host/gentleman he was at the party. He rose to the occasion that night in our home. Taking orders for hot cocoa or cider, offering mints to the guests. A snapshot from 12:30pm would have presented a completely different version of the same kid (and Mama.)
He is not all good, nor is he all bad. Neither am I. But when all we get are glimpses into people's lives it can be easy to forget. It is the trouble with 'snapshot living.' We are all works in progress.
May we never been too proud of 'goodness' nor take 'badness' too personally. This road will be full of both. I choose to teach in the moments of real life--to provide consequences for the bad choices and to celebrate the good ones. Remembering that these are snapshots of what is going on inside hearts--and that God is working out His salvation in them.
I've been reminded of this lately as my kids have reached an age where they come home and 'report' things that happened on the playground. We discuss what could have been said/handled differently--but I pray the Lord keeps me from ever labeling the kids in their class as 'good' or 'trouble.' As my friends with older children remind me, they all will have their seasons in both categories...just as I do.
May we continue to be FOR our kids (and their friends) even as we are AGAINST the sin in their lives. This is love. It's not as cut and dry--but it is real.