Love Over Laundry

A couple of weeks ago, I had one of those Fridays.

I had to a ton of laundry that needed to be folded, a sticky kitchen floor that needed to be mopped, three dirty bathrooms that needed to be scrubbed and guests that needed a nice clean room to sleep in.  The stress took over and I was left feeling overwhelmed.  With only a few hours to spare, I was in panic mode.

After I sent the kids off to nap, I began the gruesome task of folding our (forever growing and never ending) laundry.  But after an hour and a half, Micah came into the family room (where I was folding the laundry in peace) and told me his clock light turned green and his rest time was over.  He offered to help me sort out the socks and asked to hang out with me while we did this together. (This was his usual laundry chore.)

Instead of jumping on his joyful attitude while finding the pairs, I started asking him to hurry up.  My rude attitude made the atmosphere tense and uncomfortable. Instead of encouraging him and thanking him for his helpful heart, I asked him to go play with Titus so I could hurry and finish up.  I just wanted to get it done.  I was growing impatient and ungrateful.  Even though Micah wasn’t saying anything, he was picking up on my irritation and frustration.

A few minutes later, he took his light saber and told his brother, “Titus, let’s just go play in our room.”  I was taken aback by his urgency to leave and stopped him as he walked by me.  I asked him why he was leaving and told him he could play here.  He politely responded, “Mama, it’s ok. Titus and I will play in our room.  You are upset and I don’t want to be here anymore.  You might yell at us when you get frustrated.”

I was shocked.  My heart sank. I thought…Do I yell at them a lot?  Do I react in frustration and anger when they disappoint me?  Those were surely scary and ungodly images of a mother.

I quickly put down the shirt I was folding and invited him to sit with me.  I placed him on my lap and asked him to talk to me about what he said.  He said, “Mama, I wanted to help you but you were upset that I wasn’t doing a good job.  I was trying but your voice was irritated and mean.  It was not kind.  I don’t want to be with you when you are frustrated.  I don’t want to make you upset so I will just go play somewhere else.  I don’t like it when you use your mean voice.”

I choked up.  I knew I was wrong and there was nothing else to it.  I held him close and apologized.  I told him, “Micah, you are right.  Mama did not have to be upset and I didn’t have to mean.  I wanted to get things done but it is no excuse for me to speak to you or Titus that way.  I wasn’t trying to be mean but my voice wasn’t kind.  Mama needs to work on that.  Do I yell at you and Titus a lot?  I’m so sorry.  I will try to do better.  Will you please forgive me?” He immediately said with a smile, “Yes mama I forgive you.  And no, you don’t yell all the time, just sometimes.”  With that, they stayed in the family room and I went on with my tasks.

My heart remained heavy and I needed to share this with God in private.

Again, I was convicted by my toddler. My behavior was uncalled for and my character was unacceptable.  I lost my temper in front of my children and my frustration caused turmoil in my home.  Moreover, I acted on my selfishness and it scared my children.  My lack of grace under pressure caused hurt in my home and in my children’s hearts.  My character was put to the test and I failed — miserably.  God was not reflected at all in words and my actions.  I was the arrow that pointed to heaven and I turned it upside down.

God graciously and gently used my three year old to remind me that my actions affected everyone in our home and it caused my character to be questioned.  My heart broke knowing that I did not model God’s character of love and grace.  But I also praise God for these moments of humility and love.  Showing my children that I am imperfect and asking for their forgiveness reminds me that I too need grace, moment by moment.  It is a choice for me to seek first His Kingdom and allow His righteousness to dwell within me.  It highlights my need for Christ as He exposes my sins.  He builds the character He desires me to model to my children.  In His awesome love, these moments allow me to be authentic with my faith and reflect His power to forgive.

The reality is that one of our greatest responsibilities as parents is to be a reflection of Christ’s character to our children.  Allowing the Holy Spirit to take over our parenting allows us to defer to Him and seek His direction as we handle various challenges.  By viewing my circumstances from His perspective rather than my limited one, my parenting perspective shifts from “getting the job done” to “how can God be glorified.”  There is hope in Christ and forgiveness flows freely when I parent in the presence of the Lord.

Since God has allowed us to be His ambassadors to our children, here are some questions that will allow us to make vital and positive adjustments as we parent our children.

Are we quick to recognize our sin and repent?  Do we admit and seek forgiveness from those we’ve hurt including our children?  Do we live a life that reflects our view of God privately and publicly?  Do they see evidence of a Spirit-filled life in the midst of stress, issues and trials?   Do we magnify God’s love and kindness through our words and actions?  Do we value highly the things that please God?  Do we handle our home, our time, our finances and our marriage in a manner that glorifies God?  Are we Christ’s best representatives to our children?

Which of these hit a nerve for you? Because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” (James 1:20) With this, I will humbly ask God to help me get through my moments of frustrations and surrender them to Him.  Hopefully this will help remind you as well that sometimes (and even often) that love is so much more important than the laundry.

With that said, I just finished three loads of laundry with a heart filled with love and laughter with my little man!

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