There was a lot of whispering around the water cooler. My supervisor was a candidate for Vice President of the department. Many asked, “Was she qualified?” Others thought, “There has never been a woman in this position before,” and “Is she even suitable for the task?” Although there were at least four other candidates, she was chosen to carry the torch of Vice President. Never had I been so proud of my boss of three years. My coworkers and I had a big celebration dinner filled with joy and plenty of gifts to honor her new-found success. Finally, her hard work had paid off and she was headed for bigger and better things.
After the initial excitement died down, I was hit with the news that there would now be a few more additional changes. Although the promotion was a wonderful achievement, I never considered that I would no longer report to my fearless leader. As she moved up the corporate ladder, there was now a new vacancy in the department and things were about to shift. Her current position needed to be filled and I needed a new supervisor.
There was again a lot of whispering around the water cooler. “Who would be the candidate for the new position?” “Would that person be as qualified as my last supervisor?” and “Is this person going to be suitable for the task?” Many candidates began to come into the office. With each interview, anxiety began to build and an unseen dark cloud began to fill the atmosphere. My work environment was encompassed with a state of worry and fear of the unknown. Finally, a new candidate was hired and things began to change.
Through this experience, I realized three things: God is sovereign, change is inevitable and worry and fear is the absence of faith and trust. I often wonder why God sometimes never fully discloses the stipulations of his blessings. For example, even when there is a promotion, we often lose things in the process in order to grow. As God takes us to higher heights and deeper depths, we may lose some friends along the way and may have to endure a lot of negative “whispers” and our faith may be challenged. We may feel uncomfortable at times, but we cannot let fear overtake our hearts, because even though our situation may transform, there is a time and season for every change and this too shall pass.
We must fully trust God that our outcome will be in our favor and even when we go through the process of not knowing the future, there should be a reassurance that God is in control. God encourages us in the book of Deuteronomy 31:6 to “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid of them, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” He also reminds us in 1 Peter 5:7, to “Cast all our anxiety on Him, because He cares for us.” God is with us, through the journey of moving into the blessings He has prepared for us. He is with us when people speak words filled with questions of doubt and uncertainty and He is with us through the midst of change. Leave the unknown results to God, and never fear the outcome of moving forward.
Please don’t lick the cat. This is one of the things I say a bunch of times everyday. Combine that statement with other fun ones like: Curtains are not for swinging. Don’t tackle your brother. Don’t dig your underwear out of your butt in a room full of people. And my personal favorite – Wash your hands after using the bathroom EVERY time…even if you just aimed, shot, and flushed the toilet with your elbow.
I cannot give an accurate number of times I say these things in a day, especially to my five year-old son. I have said them in so many different ways, including phrasing them positively. As a teacher, I learned early on to avoid words like “don’t” and “no” when giving rules, correcting and redirecting children. However, I have realized that NO matter how much I DON’T use these words, my children still break the rules. Maybe “break” is not the right word. They treat some rules like they were never rules at all.
I am in the season of repetition, correction and redirection. My mother often said a phrase to us that I did not understand until I had children. “How many times did I tell you to __________? I sound like a BROKEN RECORD!” I grew up in the era of cassette tapes and CDs. We didn’t own a record player, so this did not hit home for me. She should have yelled, “I sound like a SKIPPING CD!” This I understood.
Recently, I spoke with a friend, whose son also required support in learning rules and good habits. She explained that it took a toll on their relationship. I, too, feel like I spend so much time telling my son what NOT to do that I do not get the chance to truly enjoy our relationship. She inspired me to find different ways to help my son develop good habits in a way that blesses him.
When thinking about helping my son learn lessons, etiquette, and rules, I consider how God teaches me. I often wonder how many times God has to teach me the same lesson again and again. How many times have I forgotten His words…the very words I repeated when in distress?
It seems like God often teaches me the same concept through several different types of circumstances – same lesson, different delivery. Sometimes it is through His Word, or a sister in Christ. Other times it is through a series of events, each one designed to help me get a handle on what God is trying to show me.
After talking with my friend, I realized that my son is not learning what he needs to know because I am not teaching the way he needs. I am not as patient when I have repeated myself a bunch of times. I truly sound like a broken record the fifth time I find yellow drops on the toilet seat or when one of them is forcing the cat to snuggle because he is “so fwuffy”.
My husband often says that our son has learned to tune me out. So, I need to be creative in how I get him to retain information. This does not just pertain to the practical lessons like hand-washing and good aim. I need to be intentional about finding ways to teach him God’s ways as well. Furthermore, I want to cultivate a relationship with him because of who he is, not what he does correctly or incorrectly. This is my current mission.
During my time as a parent I have learned that God pursues and desires a relationship. The lessons He teaches me affect my heart and have the capacity to turn my heart towards Him. I have also learned that most lessons are not simply taught and grasped. Often times much effort and energy goes into preparing our children to function in the world. A solid relationship helps. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
This seems much easier said than done, but at some point, it needs to be done.