Until Christmas Eve I was involved in daily debates and lectures that grew more heated the longer they dragged on. No, this wasn’t an academic competition; my son was struggling over a holiday-related decision that would have affected all of us, as well as the relative that we usually celebrate with. I wish I could say that I handled it all like a super-mature Christian mom. Unfortunately, looking back, my teenager showed more grace and patience than I did at times as I continually “used my Mom card” as I called it (in other words, guilt trips, nagging, and threats with a little pouting and crying thrown in, along with reminders of how many loved ones the wrong choice would hurt). Finally, the night before Christmas Eve, I backed off and stayed backed off. I sent him to bed with one final calmly-expressed thought then vowed to leave it between him and God. When and if he did the right thing I wanted it to be his choice, not something that I pressured him into.
The next day was much more peaceful as I sensed him thinking and praying intensely about the issues, and we discussed his struggles like two adults. And yes, minutes before zero hour (meaning shortly before his grandparents were due to show up) my son made the choice that we’d all been praying for. I praised God and told him repeatedly how much his decision meant to his family. But I also regretted all the nagging and whining, knowing that it contributed nothing to the process but extra stress and the embarrassment of knowing that I’d set such a poor example for both my kids. It would have been so much more satisfying to know that I’d truly left the problem between him and God from the beginning and watched the Spirit work. Who knows, maybe he would have come to the ultimate “right decision” sooner. Either way, God moved, my son’s heart softened, and we saw the results of long-suffering prayer. I just hope that next time I can reach the praise stage without acting like I’m twelve.
This morning it hit me how often I turn times of waiting into seasons of whining. Take my writing career for example (after all, this is a blog for writers so a cooking illustration might seem a bit out of place). I teach beginning writers that rejection is part of the process, along with long waits, and endless perseverance. But when I face rejection, long waits, and seasons of watching my friends celebrate new contracts while I continue to “make the rounds” with my projects, my own advice goes out the window. I act like a mature author who understands that all of this is part of the job description for awhile then hit a brick wall. Suddenly I’m crying to God, reminding Him how hard I work (as if He needs reminding), pouring out my angst in my journal and, yes, acting like a twelve-year-old. Wouldn’t it be more fun to get the prayed-for contract without having to look back on a major hissy fit that I wish even God hadn’t had to witness?
So that’s one of my goals for the New Year—to put my drama queen side in a time out and practice patience–in my writing life and in all other areas. Not that I need new lessons in patience. I need to apply what I’ve already learned.
So a lot of good came out of the pre-Christmas stress. God answered a prayer and I got a much-needed glimpse of my maturity level. Please say I’m not the only one who has been humbled in this way.