Wednesday, October 8, 2008

What God is Teaching me Now

"You're familiar with the command to the ancients, 'Do not murder.' I'm telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder. Carelessly call a brother 'idiot!' and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell 'stupid!' at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire. The simple moral fact is that words kill.” Matthew 5: 21-22 (MSG)

There has been a powerful storm moving through my home lately. This storm has seemed to develop a life of its own and for many weeks has been gaining intensity. The swell has built to the point that I grew concerned that this storm would overwhelm and utterly destroy the balance of peace in my life.

This storm is what I will refer to as tropical storm “Gabe.”

On vacation in Florida recently we were forced to alter many of our plans due to tropical storm Faye, which made landfall on the second day of our vacation and then just sat over Orlando for several days. During this period of time the wind blew and the rain fell, often with driving force. So great and prolonged was this storm that many areas in Orlando and surrounding towns were deemed disaster areas once Faye finally moved on. I watched firsthand the devastating effects that a tropical storm can have.

During my quiet time as I was reading the word of God, I was led to the passage of scripture from the gospel of Matthew above. Two points in particular struck me as I read.

The first, was: “. . .anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder.” Now I have read this verse many times. And as I often do, I sort-of glossed over it. I guess one could say that the weight of that statement never really hit me where I live. But today was different.

For many long weeks my husband and I have been struggling to cope with angry outbursts from our almost 4-year-old son. Needless to say these outbursts have made our home feel more like a war zone than a place of rest, contentment, acceptance and love. Much to my dismay I realized that in the same way as tropical storm Faye caused so much damage due to the amount of time she hovered in one place, the negative and sinful behavior in my home had also been hovering without course correction for far too long.

My husband and I have prayed over our son’s behavior. We have spoken to his teachers and anybody else that we thought could offer us advice on how to guide him to an understanding of how damaging his anger is. We have read book after book after book, looking for help. We have tried any reasonable suggestion and some not so reasonable ones in an attempt to reduce or eliminate the escalation of this harmful behavior.

The second point that struck a cord within me from this passage of scripture in Matthew was: “Thoughtlessly yell ‘stupid!’ at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire.”

The use of the word ‘stupid’ has become one of my son’s staples. He flings that word out against anything or anyone who frustrates or angers him. Now I am not suggesting that my son has the mental capacity to yet understand the weight or seriousness of his actions. However it is my responsibility to teach my son that his words carry great significance and that he is to strive to build others up in his actions, words and deeds; rather than carelessly fling words about that cause discomfort, strife, hurt feelings and pain.

I have come to the painful conclusion that because I have allowed this behavior to continue, my son’s actions and words are destroying the peace in our home. The simple fact is that his words are killing! Not only the peace and calm in our home, but they are also destroying our ability to relate to him in the proper manner.

As I have been reflecting upon all of this, my heart has been troubled and the Holy Spirit has been speaking to me about my need to model appropriate behavior. I need to conduct an attitude check of my own life. Although I don’t use the word stupid, does my attitude, volume level or actions ever convey the message that someone or something is stupid? Do I all too often react in a sinful and angry manner?

I must trust God to be my daily portion. I need to rely upon the strength of the Spirit to help me to not react in negativity, or with returned anger, during my son’s outbursts; or for that matter to any other perceived injustice or hurt. The Holy Spirit has spoken to me that administering reproof for my son’s bad behavior is not enough. I should also be teaching and providing him with the tools to appropriately deal with his anger and frustration

In order to quiet the storm within my son, I must ensure that my stormy seas have been calmed and that I have confessed any sinful behavior to my Lord allowing me to be utilized to teach him through the outpouring of God’s love.

I can only accomplish this goal by immersing myself in God’s Holy Word and by faithfully praying for His wisdom and guidance.

Related Scripture Verses ~

“Teach me knowledge and good judgment, for I believe in your commands.” Psalm 119:66 (NIV)

“A wise son heeds his father's instruction, but a mocker does not listen to rebuke.” Proverbs 13:1 (NIV)

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26 (NIV)


Anonymous said...

Wow Joanie this was really thought provoking...It is often hard to look in the mirror and own up to our faults. I am so thankful that the lord is so patient...or I would have been in deep trouble a long time ago!! Your son in very lucky to have you for a mom as you have the gift of patience and the deep love of family, I know he will grow to respect and love everyone in the household with you and your hubby guiding him! I hope things settle down for your household soon! hugs B'nana

Renee Swope said...

I agree with B'nana. Gabe is so blessed to have you as his mom. As I read this the Holy Spirit reminded me that I haven't sent that CD. We had run out and I put a note on my desk but it got moved and I forgot. I am so sorry. Please forgive me. I am not saying it's the answer at all. I just thought it might offer some encouragement because you are living out the message and God is going to use your faithfulness and example of His love that is patient and kind to shape the heart of your precious son.

I'll see if I can have the office send it tomorrow!