“Uh-oh Mom!! Something really bad just happened here!!”
My son’s words from upstairs reached me down in the kitchen where I was frantically trying to tidy up breakfast so we could make it out the door in time for our appointment. They were, quite possibly, the most unfortunate words I could have heard in that moment.
I felt rage rise inside of me. My mind automatically went to worst-case scenario and I was envisioning all manner of catastrophe that may have just ensued on the cream-colored carpet of our second story. Was it a potted plant? A contraband food spill? Or maybe something .- ahem – unpleasant from my potty trainee? Whatever the “really bad” thing was, I anticipated it would take a lot of urgency and work on my part to remedy. And all this on top of the fact that we needed to be out of the door in twenty minutes and I was still in my pj’s and so were my kids, snacks needed to be assembled, teeth needed to be brushed, shoes needed finding, and hair needed fixing. The task list already seemed too giant to shove into twenty short minutes, but now I had this “really bad” thing to contend with.
With a clenched jaw I stomped my way to the bottom of the staircase, sweat already beading around my hairline and my heart rate picking up. I wanted these kids to know how much their carelessness was inconveniencing me at a very inopportune time. I had plans to yell and make them feel really, really badly for stressing mommy out even more than she needed to be. And I felt justified. They needed to know, right? They deserved to know. It was my right as a mother to make them know. Right?
But in that split second before I opened my mouth to unleash my fury I remembered something from Ann Voskamp’s book One Thousand Gifts. I remembered. And slowly the truth of the words I had read months before seeped between the angry places of my heart:
What compels me to name these moments upheavals and annoyances instead of grace and gift? … The swiftness and starkness of the answer startle. Because you believe in the power of the pit … Do I really smother my own joy because I believe that anger achieves more than love? That Satan’s way is more powerful, more practical, more fulfilling than Jesus’ way?
I had a choice – a choice – right then and there to allow my perceived right to give into anger over the annoyance of my situation to overtake the Holy Spirit within me capable of reacting with love, peace, patience, and self-control. In that moment it was my choice to choose light or darkness.
Praise the Lord He gave me strength to choose rightly and I held my breath and determined to react well to whatever lied ahead of me as I waited for my son to respond to my question of, “Ok … tell me what happened?”
And do you want to know what happened? What that “something really bad” actually was? My five-year-old boy had pretended to use one of those cheap white plastic hangers, the kind that cost like $1 for a dozen, as a bow with an invisible arrow, accidentally snapped the bottom part in half, and incurred a small scrape on his forearm from the ragged edge. That was all. That was truly the extent of it.
It could have been worse. And let’s be real, there have been other times when it was way, way worse. But the truth of it all is that I always have a choice to control my reaction to any situation, no matter how bad it might really be. In the heat of the moment I can always choose to respond with my flesh or respond instead with gentleness and kindness made possible through the limitless and always-present power of the Holy Spirit.
We always have a choice, friends. And for the sake of little eyes watching and tiny hearts that need to be pointed to Jesus, I encourage you today to choose well.