I don't particularly like being wrong about something. I admit, sometimes I am wrong but sometimes it irks me when it gets pointed out to me. I've found that I tend to react 2 very different ways when my error is shown to me. If the person pointing out my error tends to be attacking about it, I get defensive. Example: "No, you're wrong...black and white, no discussion...whatever debate you provide I can't hear because you're wrong." This person could very well be correct. It may be black and white and I may already realize my error. Their method of correction has sparked a defensive fire in me and I go into argumentative mode, or shut down mode. (That's just me pouting because yes, I'm wrong but my feelings are hurt because I feel attacked by the less than gentle approach!)
Then, there is the person who says: "Okay, I see what you're saying/doing. However, let me point 'A,B, and C'. What do you think?" My defensiveness is much less. Discussion ensues. Perhaps the realization that what I've said/done is wrong doesn't hit me right away...or maybe I already KNEW it was wrong but had somehow candy -coated it to appear less significant. Yet approach #2 doesn't get that defensive fire burning, and I don't really "shut down". I get introspective instead. The person is correct, and they chose to lovingly approach me not to say "You are wrong, I am right" but rather "You are wrong and I'm correcting you because I care about you". There's a big difference.
God uses the second approach with me. Lately, it's been quite a bit! If God chose to say "Sandy! You are so wrong right now! Knock it off and do it MY way because you know that MY way works much better! Don't try to discuss this with Me!", I would most likely (um, probably!) pout and get defensive and even argue a bit. Instead, it's a much more gentle reminder. I can remember a specific day last week when Elijah was particularly strong-willed. To say he was a handful would be a huge understatement! After carrying him out of my in-law's house, kicking and screaming, and then trying to buckle him into his car seat while he thrashed and punched me, I felt defeated. The short car ride home was ridiculous...he acted like a 4 year old and, well, so did I. I sent him to his room to put his jammies on and told him I would be up to talk to him in a minute. And I took that "minute" to just pray. God heard the words "I just can't do this!" quite a few times. I even confessed that sometimes I feel like I'm screwing up this whole parenting thing. As I whined about feeling overwhelmed by inadequacy, God whispered "Just give it to Me. I promised to help you. Why are you trying to do it yourself?" I was wrong in my approach, and definitely wrong in my behavior with Eli. I knew I was wrong when I raised my voice to him in the car. When I went upstairs to talk to Eli, I apologized for yelling at him. He apologized (unprompted by me) for kicking, screaming, punching and yelling and telling me that I should live in the green garbage can (yeah...pretty harsh, Elijah!). We talked for a little bit about how Jesus wanted him to behave and how it made Him very sad when Elijah was so naughty. And I admitted that He was sad because Mommy had yelled at him. We prayed, he brushed his teeth and after 2 books, he was asleep. I wonder how the evening would have ended if I'd tried to continue to discipline "my way"...?
Then, there was this morning. Well, it started last night. Because of Adam's work schedule and my lack of ability to be a morning person, I do my actual "devotions" at night after Elijah is in bed. It's been working well for me this way...the house is quiet, my mood is relaxed because it's night and I'm more able to focus on what I'm reading and studying. When I tried to do it in the morning, I always felt rushed. So I've started taking the first moments when I wake up in the morning to just talk to God, and the final time I have before bed to talk and learn and reflect on the day. Last night was the first snag in my plan. Eli went to bed late. I started doing other things. Adam was home from work.
I GOT LAZY.
And I convinced myself that one night wasn't going to hurt. I would double up my "lessons" tomorrow...one in the morning, one at night. So I sat down today during some quiet time and started yesterday's lesson:
Grow in the Discipline of Meeting God - Do you sometimes find that you don't want to spend the time with God that you've committed to? What happens when you push through that lack of desire and do it anyway? God's grace meets you along the path of persistence. Ask God to give you the will to practice discipline, even when the desire is not there. (Be Still and Know that I am God)
Oops. I messed up. God was pretty gentle with this reminder...so subtle, in fact, that when I read that passage, I smiled sheepishly. He could have been very direct me with me last night but He probably would have met resistance from me. Instead, He reminded me quietly this morning about the error of my way. And as I prayed and asked for forgiveness, God whispered "Don't give up...you're doing a good job!"
If only all correction could be so awesome!