Yesterday, while we were having lunch Timmy was testing my patience. He wanted to do something while eating and we told him he couldn’t. I repeatedly talked to him gently explaining why he needed to finish his food first before doing it. He responded by clanging his plate, pushing the table, and other small acts of rebellion.
I finally decided to put my foot down and raised my voice. I told him that I know exactly what he was doing—that he was trying to test me and push my limits. I told him that we’ve been talking to him nicely and he kept disobeying us. Timmy cried and apologized. I told him I forgive him but inside I was still fuming. Then he said something that surprised me.
“Please don’t shout at me, Mommy. Please, please don’t shout at me. No, Mommy. Please don’t shout at me.”
He said that in between sobs. My son completely overlooked that I was mad at him. He only remembered the tone of my voice. He kept saying this while crying.
At that point, I had two choices. Should I apologize? In my head, I was thinking, “But he was rebellious and disobedient!” Or should I stand my ground?
Aside from being a mom, I am Timmy’s playmate and homeschool teacher most of the time. Fun is what comes to his mind when Mommy’s around. But of course, it can’t be 100% fun all the time. There are days when discipline needs to be taught and rules need to be followed.
I had a few seconds to decide. My heart was already being torn into pieces seeing him cry and reach out to me. I followed the Holy Spirit’s conviction and swallowed my pride.
I stood up, hugged him, and wiped his tears.
I told him something like this, “I’m sorry for shouting at you. I was trying to talk to you gently but you kept rebelling. Please forgive me for shouting. I will try my best not to do it again. Will you forgive me for shouting?”
Thankfully, he said yes and hugged me. He buried his face on my tummy to cry some more. Then I hugged and kissed him again. A couple of minutes after, he was laughing and eating again as if nothing happened.
Parenting isn’t all about teaching your child what to do and what not to do. It’s also about modeling. Ironically, our Bible story that morning was about “The Pharisee and the Tax Collector.” The Pharisee was praying loudly telling the Lord and everybody else in the temple about his good works. Meanwhile, the Tax Collector was beating his chest and couldn’t even look up in shame.
God gave me the opportunity to model true humility or be the Pharisee that teaches about it but does otherwise. It’s hard to apologize when you know you have the right to act that way. I could’ve easily gone to that route but the heaviness in my heart and lack of peace was God’s conviction that I needed to listen to.
And so I apologized to my son for hurting his feelings through my shouting. And just like Jesus, he was quick to forgive. It’s so hard to get parenting right but James 4:6 stands true in any situation, “But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.”
I need God’s grace daily to be a better follower of Jesus, better wife, and better mom. I need to humble myself daily before Him and ask for His grace to sustain me. Sometimes He needs to humble me through my husband and son. It is only through moments like these when character change happens. Although in increments, what matters is God isn’t content in keeping us the way we are. He wants us to be more like Christ. Even if it means apologizing to a 5-year-old. 🙂
Dear God, thank You for the privilege being a parent. It’s a big responsibility to be one. Thank You for the joy it brings. Help me to balance love and discipline. Help me to draw the line between fun time and teaching time. And if I screw up again, give me the humility to admit my faults and the grace to start over. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.