Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Button-pushing and hair-triggers

Some of my children are very skilled at pushing buttons. Very skilled. This is hard enough to deal with, but we also have another problem. Some of my kids have hair-trigger reactions. It doesn't take much to push their buttons. Then there are the weeks when there has been so much button pushing going on, and so many over-reactions, that my own button develops a hair-trigger.

It's hard on weeks like that ... weeks like this ... to find the positive side. It's tempting to imagine a giant house with separate bedrooms for everyone, where I can send each child to their own room, and then escape to the peaceful refuge of my master suite. Except, the reality of that is that they'd just start hollering for me from all 9 bedrooms. (Okay, only 8 since the oldest child is off to college.) 

So, as I accept that a bigger house wouldn't solve the problem, I start to bemoan the fact that God gave me this mixture of personalities in my family. Why do they have to be so emotional? Why do they have to delight in pestering each other? Why do they lose their tempers so quickly? Why can't they just be calmer and quieter?

But that same passion which turns so quickly to anger is also full of life and joy at other moments. That same personality which likes to pester others, also knows how to make everyone laugh. That same emotional nature who is so easily annoyed, is also the tender-hearted one who is so easily hurt. I love the ornery side of my 3 year old, even though her tendency to playfully disobey drives me crazy.

Unfortunately, I can't just have the positives without the negatives. Each person has both, and I need to focus on the things I enjoy about their personalities while trying to teach them self-control and kindness. I need to remember the moments when they are getting along and everyone is laughing. I need to praise them for the times when they put someone else first, when they give up their turn, when they are patient, or when they forgive instead of seeking vengeance.

I also need to pray more. I need to pray that they will be more kind-hearted and get along better. I need to pray that they will grow into godly young men and women who let God mold them into His image for their lives. I need to pray that I can stay positive on the days when I'm breaking up one squabble after another. I need to pray that God will help my buttons not to have hair-triggers, too. Especially going into allergy season.

Reality is that the pestering and over-reacting is about to escalate. (How can that even be possible?) Cabin fever of winter is unfortunately replaced with spring allergy misery which brings out the worst in everyone. I've known this for thirteen years, but every year I forget and am initially blind-sided by the intensity of the storm that allergy season brings to our home. I need a visual this year ... maybe two.

One that says, "Brace yourselves! There's a storm coming!"

And one that says, "Keep Calm and Love On!" 

Mostly I need to remember that there is ONE who brings calm and peace in the midst of the storm.

     That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.”  Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
     He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
     He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”      Mark 4:35-41
I'm pretty sure that the message I'm supposed to take away from this passage isn't shouting "Quiet! Be still!" at my kids' squabbles.  (Though I definitely have done that, and likely will from time to time.)  I like how it's said in Matthew 8: 23-27 a bit better.
The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”
He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.
Completely calm.  Maybe I can't make my children or our life be completely calm, but I can seek Christ's peace for myself.
 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.   John 14:27
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.    Galatians 5:22-25
In the meantime, it certainly won't hurt if I stock up on lavender oil and chamomile tea, will it? Oh, and claritin for everyone!

April E.

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