My quest to follow after Jesus more closely is starting off on a very difficult foot.
What a surprise, huh?
As I have written in the past, my son is amazing. He is sweet. He is a hugger. He is so fun to watch play basketball and football. He is an unbeatable big brother.
And he knows how to push my buttons like no other. And he loves to do it. I just don't get it.
OK, well I sorta do. It is fun to push buttons when you get such fun reactions.
I have been known to do any and/or all of the following at some point over the past 12 years:
Make empty threats
My son has even told me in the past that he intentionally will keep pushing at me until I over-react. Yes, my sweet and loving son likes, no loves, to push my buttons.
And I let him.
It would be so much better if I could say that he makes me over-react. But that simply wouldn't be true. I can absolutely choose to stay calm, to not react, to not give in.
But generally I don't. Instead of responding, I react.
"Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience."
There is no excuse for not responding with patience and gentleness. With goodness and self-control. I already have these things. These are things that God knew I would need and he supplied them to me when I accepted Jesus as my savior. But God didn't make these things my default. I have to choose them. I have to actively reach for them, use them, and grow them.
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control."
The fruit is there, but I am not choosing it.
I am really starting to see that I am damaging my son's view of God's ability to change a person. Maybe he doesn't get it yet, maybe he will see that his mom is just a really flawed human being that makes bad choices. But maybe he sees that God doesn't really change people and can't help with struggles.
Maybe my son prayed that he would receive an encouragement or special word from God, and God had chosen me to serve as the answer to that prayer.
But without using the power of the Holy Spirit inside me, of stopping and thinking and responding instead of reacting, my son didn't receive that encouragement or special word. At least not from me.
How sad that makes my heart. After I over-react, there is always guilt, always doubt in my abilities, always regret.
It is time to make a change.
If you saw my New Year's post, you know I am not into making specific resolutions. But this year I am committing to follow Jesus more closely than ever before. This has to start in my home. It has to start with me and the testimony that I want to live out in front of my son and daughter.
"Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us."
The amazing thing about the Bible is that there really is something for everything. It isn't hype. It isn't hard to find. God isn't the impossible task-master. By asking for his help, he is quick and faithful to help.
When I asked God to help me in changing how I react to my son, I found this in under a minute:
"My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. James 1:19-21
A swift kick in the backside, as well as an encouragement and instruction.
So, over the year, as I commit to following Jesus, the fruit will be a better testimony lived out in front of my son. And this is just the beginning.
Will it be easy? No. Will I get it right every time? No. But I will be striving and stepping in the right direction. And that is what this year, and following Jesus, are all about.