I went to the gym today so I could shower.
(a mama’s got to do what a mama’s…you know.)
My babes like playing in the kid zone at the gym where I work out, but today I didn’t feel like working out, I just wanted an uninterrupted shower. I got one, and then I got ready for my day and I came to sit in the lobby of my gym for a few moments before picking my kiddos up. As I was sitting there, I saw a man in his 50’s who had a clear mental disability. He was with a woman who was his guide/helper. The man went over to a vending machine and asked for a drink. The woman replied that she didn’t have any money, and all of a sudden the man started screaming. I nearly fell out of my chair out of surprise. It was loud! He was having a tantrum. And all of a sudden I had a revelation.
That man couldn’t help having a tantrum, he wasn’t completely in control of his mental faculties. He was responding as though a little child would.
How a child would.
Oh my goodness, how a child would!
Of course children have tantrums and act crazy sometimes, they are just doing what their little sin natures know to do! Sure, we could beat it out of them, just like that woman could have hit that man to get him to be quiet, but that wouldn’t really be fair or kind or respectful, would it? When the man yelled, the woman gently led him outside to talk with him (from what I could tell).
When my children yell or whine or have a tantrum or don’t obey very well, I want to remember that they don’t always know how to respond correctly, and that it takes time, a ton of time, to teach and train them. I need to be patient and compassionate as they mature, which takes years.
When I was going through a really difficult time with my Caroline disobeying, Sally said to me, “I really think if she could obey you she would.” Sally was right, my little girl wasn’t getting it, she was two and she just wanted to be with me, not go to bed. I expected her to obey immediately and perfectly. What an unrealistic and even cruel expectation. Not even God requires that of me.
I want to guide and teach my babies how to be in-control of their emotions. I want to teach them how to better express themselves. I want to prepare them for how to respond when life doesn’t go their way.
I want to remember that they are not adults.
And even if they were, how many of us have it totally together? How many of us still struggle with complaining or yelling or getting crabby when we don’t get our way? How should we be treated when we act in these ungodly ways?
I would want somebody to help me, to be on my team, to support me as I grow and mature and change.
So you know what? I’m going to be that person for my children. I’m going to be cheering them on, teaching them, leading them, and helping them as they navigate their emotions. I’m going to point them to Jesus, and encourage them to take on His ways, His humble ways.
I’m going to remember the man and the vending machine. And I’m going to remember that my children are maturing just one day at a time…just like their mama, who needs all the grace she can get.
“Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.” Luke 6:31