What had they done, you ask? Does it really matter? NO! I can assure you, they're actions warranted the previously prescribed discipline. In fact this was one in a series of insane toddler acts that had occurred that particular day. There seems to be some sort of schedule that only children know about that dictates one day a quarter when they will do every wrong thing they can possibly do to disobey and wreak general havoc in a concerted effort to break their mother (I'm not saying it doesn't happen to fathers. I just haven't witnessed it yet). This had been one of those days. If there were frequent flyer miles for going to the corner, they would have earned a trip to Disney World that day. All treats of the cookie & chocolate milk variety had been lost. Episodes of Daniel Tiger had been erased. I was just about ready to start throwing beloved toys out the window, when my hero came home from work and saved me.
As the kids stood/sat/squirmed/wiggled/whined in the corner, I whispered the horrific play-by-play of my day to my husband. Being the incredible man that he is, he took it all in and then said, "why don't you go to our room and take a few minutes." I did. I stumbled blindly past the two-who-shall-not-be-named and fell onto my bed with my eyes closed. I didn't sleep. I just tried to breath and began to create in my mind the mom-of-toddlers version of a Psalm complete with "how long, oh Lord" and "remember me".
It was in that precious 25 minutes of silence and alone time that God revealed to me, "This is why I call you all my children." Yep. Right there in my moment of much needed recovery from parenting, God decided to point out to me that I was experiencing just a fraction of what He has been dealing with SINCE HE MADE MAN! How on earth has He not destroyed us all already? Oh yeah. He's God. He's not on earth. He's perfectly patient and loves us enough to extend grace through His son, Jesus Christ.
"Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.
But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ
even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved."
Ephesians 2:3b-5 (NIV)
It was with this thought in mind, that I was able to roll limply off the bed and venture back into the fray with my children, and when I did, I was looking at them with different eyes. God had imparted upon me in those few minutes, just a little more grace to extend to my children. That grace pushed the frustration and irritations of that day to the back and brought my immense love and adoration for my babies to the forefront. Before they went to bed that night, I found myself curled up with both of them in my bed reading books and giggling as we snuggled together. Don't get me wrong; right after that I was happy to put them to bed in their room and firmly close the door for the night, but instead of feeling exhausted and annoyed, I was grateful for the gift of my kids...and exhausted.
I know a lot of moms will read this and relate to what I'm saying, and I hope it encourages you to find a way to extend just a little more grace even on the worst days with your kids whether they are toddlers or teenagers. However, I think this applies to more than motherhood. With every blessing from God, there are challenges. If you get the job you've been praying for there will likely be a co-worker or client that needs just a little more grace. When you get the promotion you've been waiting for, there will be an employee or boss that requires you to extend just a little more grace. When you finally get that husband you've been waiting for, however great and godly you may both be, I can guarantee you will need to find just a little more grace to extend to him at times.
In an imperfect world filled with imperfect people, ourselves included, we will always need to both receive and extend just a little more grace. We'll need to be reminded that we have to love on people even when they aren't lovable. We'll have to be forgiving of those that aren't at all apologetic. We'll have to offer compassion even when we are met with indifference. We have to do these things because we are children of the Most High God. We are His ambassadors on this earth. We represent Christ, so we must represent His grace, even when it is the last thing we want to do.
"Live such good lives among the pagans that though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us.
For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people."
1 Peter 2:12, 15
This is not easy. I repeat. THIS IS NOT EASY! I mean, I love my husband and children more than any other people on this planet, and I have to pray for the Holy Spirit to help me extend just a little more grace in my own home. Passing on that grace to the obnoxious stranger cutting me off in traffic or anonymous hater on social media can only happen when I'm submitted to the Holy Spirit and allowing Him to control my responses.
My best wisdom on how to do this is to pray daily, read and memorize Scripture, and plan how you need to respond rather than allowing yourself to react. That means you have to give thought to how you will deal with difficult people in your life ahead of time. You can't wait until the moment, because you will react--that means you will lead with emotion and that is always dangerous. Plan ahead, so you can lead with Truth. You know what your kids do, so plan how you want to respond the next time they do it. You know how that co-worker is going to behave in the meeting tomorrow; take some time tonight to pray and plan your response. If you have a plan and they act a fool, you're ready to respond well. Hopefully, you won't have to put your response into play everyday, but you should be ready every day to represent God well. After all, He extends just a little more grace to you every day. I'm just sayin'.