I have a strong-willed child. A very strong-willed child. He has my stubbornness and Bri’s determination all wrapped up into one package. A mixture of Italian and Irish, he is full of passion, with his die-hard relentlessness and headstrong impetuousness. Almost daily we have battles as his fiery temper flares when his independence is thwarted. And I am tired.
Last night was one such battle over something so simple that I called myself into question time and again. I know I should choose my battles, and perhaps I chose poorly, but I also know that once the battle has commenced, I need to stand firm and be consistent. I also know how irrational he becomes, and my heart ached inside as I watched him dig himself deeper and deeper into his foolish behavior. All over a bath. A bath that I ended up having to forcefully deliver.
His temper flared as he yelled at me, “YOU are a bad mommy!” Tears streamed down his cheeks as his fist clenched and unclenched.
I sighed, and took his face between my hands, “You know what? You’re right. I am a bad mommy. I can’t do this on my own. That is why I need Jesus to help me teach you. And you need Jesus to help you obey. We’re all bad at what we do without Jesus’ help.”
He stopped and looked at me, confused. I could see the wheels turning in his mind. What was he supposed to do with that answer? He pulled his face harshly away and crossed his arms, but he complied. In his room, I pulled him onto my lap, and he curled up in my arms. I held him and whispered my love for him. Then we talked about his behavior and how anger isn’t the answer. We talked about how we both need to be better communicators, and how I want to tell him “yes” more than I want to tell him “no”. We prayed together, and I let him hear me ask Jesus for help to obey as a Mommy. I tucked him in his bed and left the room. Within minutes he was in a deep sleep, and I knew that his fatigue had been a large part of his outburst.
In the kitchen I buried my face in my arms and cried. Why does this happen every time Bri is gone? Why does this happen on the days I find myself exhausted mentally and drained spiritually? I don’t know how to do this.
My heart pangs with the fleshly desire to be the perfect mom with the perfect children, rather than admitting that I am broken, weak and sinful. How do I hold him and mold him without breaking him? Dawson Trotman, founder of the Navigators, said, “Discipline imposed from the outside eventually defeats when it is not matched by desire from within.”
It is so tempting to focus on behavior, talents, discipline, education, and so often I forget that the real prize is his heart. A heart that is in a battle zone right now. And as I battle with him, I need to battle for him. There is a terrible cost at stake, because I do not want my child to be wooed by a suitor other than Jesus.
What it boils down to is the truth that I am desperate for Jesus every moment of every day. I need to see Him and know Him. I need His strength and His wisdom. I need His heart so that I may reflect that heart to my children.
When they truly see the beauty of Jesus, they will see that the jewels Satan is offering them are specks of painted glitter that blow away and offer nothing but empty sparkles.
This morning, while I was fixing breakfast, I heard his little voice lifting up…
“In the morning, when I rise,
In the morning, when I rise,
Oh, in the morning, when I rise,
Give me Jesus.
Give me Jesus,
Give me Jesus,
You can have all this world,
Just give me Jesus.”
Oh, that my children would offer that song every morning to their Creator. And better yet, may they offer their hearts to His beauty forever!