Tuesday, February 22, 2011

"An Experiment In Kindness"

My boys are good boys. They are well mannered. They are sweet and above all they love Jesus. They bless my heart each and every day. Recently on one of those afternoons when all the doors and windows are open and a crisp breeze is blowing through the house, I was cooking dinner and listening to the sweet sound of children playing outside. As the smell of dinner made its way through the neighborhood streets I heard a terrible argument break out. It was coming from the front and I began to wonder what mom would have to step outside and reprimand these children who were speaking to one another in words and volumes that were less than encouraging. As I walked out my front door, I recognized the voices and 3 young men were quickly called in from their game of "gotcha." I was appalled. They were using tones and discouraging words and speaking in ways that they wouldn't use if they were talking to a stray animal. According to height they lined up on the couch and awaited "the mommy talk." We talked about the fact that they are HIS vessels, that Christ lives in them. We talked about kindness and we shared scripture concerning the tongue and I admitted to them my helpless place of not knowing how to stop this behavior that goes beyond just "brotherly" squabbles. I don't mind the headlocks, the tackling at the feet, the wrestling matches or the punches in the arms. All that is just part of being a brother or so I am told, but the words spoken from their mouth can leave a much greater impact and they are a direct reflection of the heart. They are words spoken in anger with an apparent lack of self-control. As we talked and pondered over what the next step would be Daddy had a wonderful idea. Togetherness! Practice! What better way to practice kindness than to be put in situations regularly that required you to be kind, to learn to be patient and to work together resulting in an occasional compromise. So for the next three days my boys were "together." They played together, ate together, slept together. Everything they did, they did together. We had to remind them to move and live in a pack, but for three days they were together. The stipulation was, for every unkind word or outburst we would add a day to their togetherness. I am happy to report that the days of togetherness only totaled 5. They learned to compromise and they are learning to put others needs before their own. That is what this was all about in the first place. Why get angry and yell? Why say hateful things? Because you have been crossed. Because you haven't gotten your way or things haven't turned out the way you wanted them to. Both sides are being selfish thus resulting in a disagreement. Dying to self is a hard lesson to learn at any age, but a lesson that is required according to the scriptures. If these precious boys can learn to die to self at a much younger age and put the needs of others above their own now, then their future days should be that much sweeter. I am not so naive as to believe that our 5 day "experiment in kindness" as cured the tongues or the angry hearts forever, but it is a start and I am more than willing to initiate this experiment again if needed. Saturday night I heard this conversation and it gave me great hope... Jacob - "I don't like you Joshua." Joshua - "Jacob that is not very nice for you to say that you don't like me." Jacob - "Joshua, please don't tell on my." Joshua - "Jacob, you deserve to be punished, but I will offer you mercy this time and not tell on you. I forgive you." Jacob - "Oh thank you Joshua, you do love me." My children possess the characteristic of kindness. When they accepted Christ as their Savior they were given the Holy Spirit as a deposit guaranteeing what is to come. With that came the fruit. The fruit of the Spirit. They received this one fruit with 9 characteristics. Part of my stewardship and my discipleship as a mom is to encourage and watch those characteristics grow. It takes work. It takes practice. Just as trees bear more and better quality fruit as they are pruned and cared for so too do we show more of the characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit as we nurture them and show great attention to them. That nourishment and discipline comes as we are in the Word of God, as we pray and as we are given opportunities to put what we have learned into practice. My boys are good boys, but this week they are just a little bit kinder. Practice makes perfect.

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