Oh my, how God challenges the heart and mind of the flesh; how he provides opportunities to practice and grow in this world so we can better reflect who He truly is. I am the single mom of a 14-year-old boy who is, for the most part, wonderful and loving. But oh boy, does he know how to push my buttons and escalate a situation to the outer limits!!??!!
Last night was a challenge, and to make a long story short, he was disrespectful and rude to the point that I did lose control of my temper (which takes a great deal to do I must say!). My flesh sure did not show love to my son. It was not patient, nor was it kind. It was easily angered, tossed up past offenses without a second thought, and did not protect my son or bring him hope! Last night, my love failed him.
As a parent, I am constantly learning, consistently growing, and always making mistakes that cause me to learn what not to do the next time around. As the situation worsened, I sent my son to the shower and then to his room. While he was in the shower, I began venting my frustration and anger on the dishes, slamming things around, and ranting about how angry I was and how wrong my son had been, and how done I was with being a single mom (who did not put herself there), and screaming out to God (literally!!) to give me patience, wisdom, and direction, as I could see none of that in myself. After my tirade and his shower, we both had some time in our own space to gather our thoughts. A couple of hours had passed; he was studying in his room, I was reading and praying for strength and the ability to make it through this very turbulent storm that came out of nowhere. I decided to seek him out to find a solution to the chaos and pain of the evenings events (I cannot go to bed mad at anyone I love, it kills me for I never know if there will be a tomorrow with that person!).
During my reading and praying, I came across a verse that completely resonated in the core of my being, a verse I had already written about on this very blog earlier in the day (God has a way of repeating his words when I need them most, and in hindsight, He was preparing me for what was to come!). The verse is 1 Corinthians 13:1-8a.
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others (is not rude), it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
Oh me oh my, did my love fall very short of the love God desires me to show my son. Both of us fell short, using harsh, mean words, striking out where it would hurt, being angry and rude to one another. As I sat contemplating what God wanted me to do with that verse (other than actively practice it!), it just convicted me as a parent, as a Christian, as a daughter of the righteous King – a King whose love is perfect and hits it on the nail every time!! I indeed fall so short. So what to do?
I began to write this scripture out, making two copies of it, not really knowing what I was going to do with them. After our cool off and contemplation time, I knocked gently on my son’s door, and he invited me in. I sat at his desk, praying in my mind as to what to do with the verse of which I had made two copies. I asked him how his studies were going, and he asked me to help him, so I did. When we got to a stopping point, I handed him the scripture I had written, focusing on the second half (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a). I asked him to read it while I continued reviewing his homework. He did so, and responded that he knew that scripture, but didn’t know what I wanted him to do with it. I asked him to circle all the ways that love was not given (on my part) during our confrontational argument earlier in the evening. He smiled slightly, and began to circle parts of the verse that I did not carry out. Unbeknownst to him, as he did this, I did the same on the other copy, circling the ways he did not carry out love in our confrontation. After a few moments, I asked him to read to me the ones he circled, and to give me the example of what I had done to break this Godly love. I did the same to him, reading from my sheet. We both had some tears by this point, and we spoke of forgiveness and living a life that reflects the love listed in 1 Corinthians 13. We promised one another that we would work on the areas each of us was weak in and that we would do our best (as is humanly possible) to show love in the way 1 Corinthians 13 stated it. It was a wonderful bonding opportunity for both of us!!
I have always spoken scripture to my son, or towards my son, using it as a tool to show him his need to obey and honor his parents, and also as a tool to bring him comfort during trials, and to help him face fears. But to this day, I cannot say that I have used it as a tool to really show the way for him; to reveal what God calls us to do; to provide a light to help him walk as Christ. This moment, this imperfect and undesirable storm brought about the most amazing moment yet in my Godly walk as a parent. We truly never stop learning how to become better Christians, and if you think you have nothing to learn as a parent or as a Christian, indeed you are treading dangerous waters.
We are all called to be a light (a witness and an example) in the lives of our children, our family, with our coworkers, neighbors, or friends. But how do we show them what God has revealed to us? How do we teach them the word of God without pushing them away from the very truth and salvation we are trying to bring them closer to?
We live it!
In Britt Nicole’s song “Ready or Not,” Lacrea says it best…
I’m showing them how I feel cuz love is more than a word
It’s a noun, and a verb, and hiding it is absurd
Love is an action! It is a thing! It is something we have, something we can give, and something we can show with our actions and words. Scripture indeed tells us of the importance of loving one another: Matthew 22:36-40, Mark 12:28-31, Luke 10:25-28, John 13:34-35, Romans 13:8-10, Galatians 5:13-14, 1 John 4:7-12, 1 Peter 3;8-12. God is love, and if we are to be like God, we are called to love!
So shine bright. Yes, you will fail because you are human. You will get angry and lose your temper, saying things that should not be said (just as everyone else does at sometime in their life!). You will struggle, you will face trials and hardships that make you feel you will never be able to love. But through it all, SHINE! Be a witness that there is something bigger than all that. There is a God who has us, holds us, loves us. Be the light that shows God’s love, reveals who He truly is, and brings salvation that much closer to the lives of those around you.
God bless and keep you! In His love ❤