The non-fiction book I currently have started is Paul David Tripp's Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands: People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change. Although the book is discussing the need for personal ministry between believers as well as what the basic for a Christian counseling program should be, I've been challenged in my thinking in other areas. One thing that I've been thinking about is how selfish I really am when it comes to parenting.
Tripp discusses how each of our callings as believers is to represent God here on earth and effectively function as His ambassadors in every area of our lives - marriage, parenting, friendships, work, church, etc. Although we are called to be ambassadors, most of us want to be more of "mini-kings" and rule over our own lives. When our interests are in opposition to God's interests, we often experience conflict and anger and all sorts of sinful attitudes. This really made me think:
Imagine what a marriage becomes when two mini-kings are required to share time and space. Underneath the vows, both persons are driven by their own cravings and expectations. What they really want is for the other to make them happy, and as long as he or she does so, they remain committed to their marriage. Now imagine how these mini-kings approach parenting. What they really long for is pre-sanctified, self-parenting children. They find the daily service and sacrifice of godly parenting to be a huge imposition. This is why Christ said that to be his disciples we must die to ourselves. (p.104-105)
I read that and had to stop and think, "Do I think like that?". And I do! Although I chose to give up my teaching career in order to make raising my children and keeping my home my new profession, I act like it's incredibly inconvenient to do so! This is my calling. This is my area of service. I get so irritated at my kids when they interrupt my plan for the day or disrupt my peace. I act like it's their fault if I end up in a bad mood that day. Tripp continues:
Why are we so good at turning moments of ministry into moments of anger? Why are we so adept at personalizing what is not personal? Why does it seem that people, things, and situations are in our way? Why do we seldom go through a day without some experience of conflict? The answer to all of these questions is that we think of our lives as our own, and we are more committed to the purposes of our own kingdom than we are to God's. We need to recognize that the people in our way have been sent to us by a wise and sovereign King. He never gets a wrong address and always chooses just the right moment to expose our hears and realign them to his. (p.106-107)
He makes a good point that it's not the people (in my case, kids) in my life that cause me to be irritated. It's not my circumstances. The problem is my own heart. He writes: "We speak and act the way we do because of what is in our hearts...[God] calls us to humbly admit that relationships and circumstances are only the occasions in which our hearts reveal themselves" (p.62).
After reading that, it's made me so much more introspective about my moments of frustration. I've caught myself with a scowl on my face when I correct one of the boys hitting the other one. Why am I irritated? Because I'm sick of saying the same thing for the 50th time. I've heard myself snapping at them when I have to get up from eating lunch for the thousandth time. Why am I irritated? Because I just want a moment of peace. I've heard myself raising my voice when I walk into a room and there's Kix scattered everywhere because they decided to play baseball with the cereal pieces. Why am I irritated? Because I want my house to be clean. Because it's a pain in the neck to get down on the floor and clean it up. I'm realizing that the reason I get so bothered by my kids and their behavior is because I'm wrapped up in myself and my own agenda. I'm seeing my heart as so much more selfish than I want it to be. I could have the best behaving children and the problem would still be there. I could get more "breaks" from my kids and the problem would still be there. I'm just seeing that God is pointing out my selfishness lately. I guess I should cooperate with the lesson, huh?
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