I prove myself the hypocrite, the bad example when I respond with venom towards someone who has wronged me. When my children hear me lose it on the phone with the customer service representative at the insurance company, even though they are rejecting yet another medical claim, I am not glorifying God. When I get snippy with the doctor because they are not cooperating with what I think should be the course of treatment for my child, it makes my child uncomfortable. Even though that doctor may be arrogant, something makes our kids recoil when they see us behaving like them in public. When I complain about my husband's boss who is increasingly demanding more work for less pay, I weaken the overall spirit of my family. When I make snide remarks about the nasty neighbors, I only "feed the bad dog" living inside my children's hearts.
The fact is, no matter what our child's abilities, they are watching us. Our kids look to us to set the standard, the example, lay down the boundaries, show them what's okay. Children seem to also have an intrinsic "baloney" meter that detects falsehood in a heartbeat.
Recently, I commented under my breath in the car that I did not like a certain woman because she is a gossip and a backstabber. My 12 year old son immediately jumped, "Mom, did you say you don't like Mrs. Jones? Why? Aren't we supposed to forgive just like we're forgiven?" Ouch! Exactly, son.
To be completely honest, we all have our moments where we think we are entitled to "swing back" when we have been wronged. This is an especially challenging issue when we are depleted from lack of sleep, worn with increased demands by our children, having to sort through troubles with schools, constantly being "on" with making sound medical decisions, nagged by continual financial concerns, and trying to fit ordinary living in between all of that. Even so, that does not excuse or permit our snarky behavior. The Lord doesn't qualify his statement above, "except when you have a child with issues." He says unequivocally "LOVE," "PRAY."
I, for one, am on a journey. I know God calls me to look more like Jesus in ever-increasing measure. (See 2 Peter 1:8) Some days I am better at that than others. But I definitely find it easier to push against my fleshly desires to snap back at someone when I know my children are learning just by watching how I behave.
Won't you grow with me?
PRAY: Jesus, your mercy takes away from me the punishment I deserve, and your grace gives me the good I am not entitled to. Help me to extend that same kind of love to someone who has been unkind to me. Holy Spirit, I can only do it by your power living in me. I put my trust in You.