Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Lesson Taught, A Lesson Learned

My son taught me a lesson last night. The funny part was that I thought I was teaching him a lesson. It all started at the dinner table. Matt made dinner last night, a delicious dinner of shake'n'bake chicken, rice, and caesar salad. Pepper climbed into his seat, took one look at his plate, and began to whine.

"EWWW! Not THAT again! I don't want chicken. And I don't like salad. And I don't want rice. Why can't we have mac and cheese? I don't want this dinner!"

Complaining at mealtime has been a struggle with our little guy recently, so I took the standard response and sent him to sit on the stairs until he could come back with a thankful heart. As I finished pouring the drinks, I could hear him stomping his feet and crying on the stairs. I went and sat with him, prepared to scold him for his bad behavior. Then I am convinced God gave me an idea. I picked up my son, cuddled him in my lap at the computer, and googled "images of malnourished children." For ten minutes we looked at pictures of starving children Pepper's age. Bloated tummies, shriveled limbs, transparent skin, and desperate faces filled the computer screen. As we talked about those children, Pepper grew more and more solemn, his eyes finally filling with tears.

"Mommy, how could I ever complain about a nice chicken dinner and yummy rice and healthy salad? Those poor children would love to eat a dinner like mine. I am so so so sorry, Mommy. I need to tell Jesus I am sorry, too."

He did. And he prayed fervently for the starving children. And he cheerfully ate his whole dinner, frequently commenting on how delicious it was, and how he wished he could share his wonderful, healthy food with the starving children.

While I assured him we would take action as a family to meet the needs of desperate families in our community, that was not the lesson I learned.

The past few weeks have been really difficult for our family. Our ministry work is on hold, due to some red tape that we are trying to work through. We have encountered some mechanical problems with the house we're renting, and we're frustrated with rent that is higher than our budget can handle (long-term). I have had a persistent cold, or maybe allergies, that have left my ears plugged and my sinuses screaming. We are waiting on the California DMV to send us a replacement title to our Caravan so we can get it registered. This has been a 7-month battle, trying to get that title! The tags on that car have expired, rendering it undriveable for now. To top things all off, our Windstar died. Needed a new fuel pump.

I would love to say that I have focused on God, trusting Him to work things out. I wish I could say I was thankful, cheerful, and content through it. But no. I am a whiner, just like my son.

"EWWWW, God! Not MORE problems! I don't want to keep waiting to start our work! I don't like being sick. I hate having a weak hot water heater, and I am sick of paying so much for rent. Why can't the DMV just send us our title so we have a working car with working air conditioning?" Whine whine whine! Moan moan moan! Complain complain complain. Mentally stomp my feet and kick things. Sit on the couch and cry. Grump at my husband. Snap at my kids. Neglect my housework. Feel sorry for myself.

And then I showed my son the pictures of the starving children. And he showed me the solution to my problems: thankfulness to the ONE who loves and cares for me.

I had a talk with God this morning, and I told Him how sorry I am for losing sight of how much I have to be thankful for. He changed my attitude and my perspective, and revealed some things to me. If I write my list in this post, it will be too long, so I will post my list later this morning.

Do you ever struggle with this like I do?

1 comment:

Southern Belle said...

I can all to well relate with what you are going through. I've lost count how many times I've prayed the same thing, in regard to thankfulness. I don't even pretend to have the answers Em, but I am praying everything works out for you soon. (((hugs)))