“…God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentence.” – Romans 2:4
“…the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.” – Proverbs 31:26
“I led them with cords of kindness, with bands of love…” – Hosea 11:4
There’s a part of me that wishes great parenting was all about consistent responses, well-commanded respect, and wise words spoken at just the right moment. Not because I do any of those things particularly well, but because they all sound clean, controlled and definable. They don’t require me to step far out of my comfortable adult world. I could write boring white papers about those things.
There’s another part of me that lays awake some nights filled with deep regret over all the little things I didn’t do that day, like interrupt whatever important thing I was doing to go push the boys on the swing, or join them in a bug hunt through the grass, or romp and tickle for awhile even though I was tired.
It doesn’t come naturally to me to engage toddlers all day. Sometimes it takes extreme effort to throw a nerf ball across the living room for the thousandth time, or read again how Curious George (who really annoys me because he’s not a good little monkey) rode the red fire truck and juggled and helped the shy little girl blah blah blah, or not get mad when my two-year-old destroys the block tower I’m trying to help him build. I don’t like getting dirty outside, and I don’t really enjoy big messy crafts that involve (shudder) glue in the hands of small children.
But when I lay awake at night I know it’s all those little messy, inconvenient things that are going to allow me to lead my children well. It’s those things that form cords of kindness and bands of love between me and my kids. It’s taking time to enjoy them and engage them that will give me the ability to speak words of wisdom into their hearts, and will make my firm and consistent discipline more than a set of walls to hurdle someday.
It’s something I have to ask and trust God for because I don’t think true kindness and warmth can be sustained by my will. They need to flow from my heart. I need to truly care more about a moment of connection with my kids than I do about checking off all the boxes I’ve planned for my day. I need to care more about them than my comfortable spot on the couch if I see an opportunity. I need to care more about them than a spotless house.
None of that means I shouldn’t strive to manage my home well, or that I should never take time for rest and refreshment. But my priorities need to be right or my decisions in the moment won’t be.