Don’t Get in My Way
It’s our first week of summer, and I am so glad to have my kids home! There is a small bit of funny tension, though, in waiting for the “it’s all fun and games until…”
In this case, it was “It’s all fun and games until someone dumps an entire pitcher of lemonade on the countertops all over our important summer forms, the camera and work papers.” Sarah began to explain what happened while trying to clean her mess. Everything she did made it worse. Abby and Cooper scattered after torturing her a little.
I made sure that Sarah knew how frustrated I was even though it was clearly not her fault. She got in the way of my plans (which was to not clean up lemonade). I barked a few orders, and we cleaned up the mess together. I didn’t let her off the hook, and she went off into the other room.
While I was making lunch, I was reminded of something Chris and I learned early in marriage — to tell each other I’m not mad or frustrated with you, just the situation. Now, this works well for our personalities. When we’re in traffic, and people are in my way, I can easily tell Chris that I’m not mad at him but the idiots around me. Sarah has a personality similar to Chris’, so I thought maybe I should share these sentiments with her.
But, it occurred to me, what if I’m just trying to let myself off the hook? What if I’m trying to excuse my sin and be the good guy here? What if we use this psycho-babble to cover over the condition of our hearts? What if I wasn’t frustrated about the lemonade but my true frustration was with Sarah?
If that is the case, what’s required is repentance. What’s required is an apology for my reaction to the accident. Repentance is required because the issue is with my heart. How? Conflict arises when I am so ruled by my desires that if you get in my way, I will be angry, frustrated and impatient. You will only be beneficial to me if you are helping me get what I want. I wanted to make lunch. Sarah got in my way. I can blame the lemonade (situation), but it didn’t pour itself. I was frustrated with Sarah, not the situation. Who gets in your way?
The opposite of that is being ruled by the Spirit. When conflict arises, I will be slow to anger, compliant and patient, not ruled by my desires to get what I want by using those around me, including my children.
I walked into the room and she said, “I’m sorry.” I apologized for my lack of patience, and she said, “I accept your apology.” I have to be honest, I still wanted to defend myself, but I mostly wanted to cry.
This won’t be the only summer day we have a “spill.” This won’t be the only day I respond with fleshly desires. Hopefully, I will take responsibility for them each time just as I’m teaching them to take responsibility. And, dads, be sure to put the lids on the lemonade. I’m pretty sure it was his fault.