“He did what now?”
“You need to say sorry to him! Go on, give him a hug!”
“We don’t hurt our brothers.”
These phrases are said a lot in our home right now… I have four boys, four growing boys, who seem to get a surge of testosterone with every growth spurt they encounter.
The occasional result? A punch to the face. Impatience. An urge to tackle. And always inappropriate usage of my dumb decorative throw pillows from the couch.
Most days are pretty great. Little to no incidences to report. But then sometimes you hit a day like last week that was particularly ridiculous… Upon reflection, I can see that it had been brewing for a few days. Generally it starts with confusion and a whole lot of questioning like, “What is happening? Why would you do that?” From there it moves to shock and a lot of head shaking… and then that transitions into a realization of “Oh, this again… I get what’s happening here…”
To be finally followed by a regroup.
A regroup you ask? It’s basically a time out. As in a family meeting where we choose to make things better because as it turns out NOBODY is enjoying themselves in the current state of affairs.
The best part of this round was this… I had been preparing for this moment and I didn’t even know it.
I’ve been reading though the New Testament since the new year started, just one book at a time, several chapters at a time, and then on purpose reading the smaller books in one sitting because man, that’s a fun way to do it. So I got to 1 Thessalonians the day before and I read and highlighted the following passage without realizing that they were the words I was going to be needing within the next 24 hours. This isn’t the first (or hopefully last) time this has happened…
BE PATIENT WITH EVERYONE.
Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always TRY to be kind to each other and to everyone else.
– 1 Thessalonians 5:14
Be patient with everyone – that means even your brother when he throws a pillow right at your newest LEGO creation you just spent the last hour building.
Be patient with everyone – that means even your brother when he stomps on your new electric race car in a fit of rage.
Be patient with everyone – that means even your brother when he eats all of the toast before you even get to the table.
I said… be patient with everyone… all of the brothers, for all of the reasons, not because we must, but because we’re willing to. Because we’re all learning and growing, and changing, and helping each other to become better versions of ourselves… slowly, one day at a time.
I made them repeat the verses I had ‘stumbled upon’ (thank you Jesus). We all repeated it together, myself included, because I need to be reminded to be patient and kind just as much as they do. (Everyone who’s ever raised children just shouted “Amen sister.”)
And that other verse we just ‘happened to read’ the other day too?
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
– Romans 12:18-19
The Message translation really breaks it down for a group of enthusiastic little boys…
Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.”
Woah. I love that. God even gave me the very words to say to the little people under my care.
There we sat in our little group huddle… eyes big and mouths quiet until I said, “OK, we’re gonna pray. God can help us do better, in fact he wants to help us do better, and he’s been waiting for us to ask… apparently we stopped praying continually long enough for all of this to fall apart…. Let’s try again OK? Cool.”
“Dear God, help me to be patient, help me to be kind, help me to try my best. I’m sorry for the times when I’m definitely not all of those things.”
Sweet little repentant voices filled the air space. It’s a favourite and commonly spoken prayer around here, and it can be used in nearly all circumstances, by all people ever.
And then that was it.
And maybe we’ll have to do it all over again tomorrow, and by maybe, I mean probably. But now we have a plan, a family huddle regroup routine, verses stored in our hearts, and a Father in heaven who’s proud of his kids who keep saying, ‘Oh man… I’m sorry, I’m gonna try that again.”