We have a young foster child in our home. Recently, he had an opportunity to speak to his parents on the phone. When they didn’t answer, my wife reached the phone out to him and put it on speaker so he could leave them a message. Only, he didn’t want to.
His face curled down to sad and his fingers started entangling amongst themselves, while he stared at the floor. My wife prompted him verbally, visually, and physically and he just sat traumatized before the recording mailbox.
He was given plenty of warning, lots of time, and a plethora of opportunities to speak up. He refused them all. So she hung up and then the tears started to flow. When we asked what was wrong, he wouldn’t answer. We knew part of it already. He comes from a background where he always gets his way. Being offered things that he doesn’t want or like causes some outrageous reactions.
So we started to chalk this up to yet another episode where he is making sure that he is in charge. His tears turned to fits and his fits soon became bellowing screams. All because he chose not to talk. We hadn’t even indicated that any form of discipline was in order. He simply wasn’t going to talk to his parents this day by his own choosing.
After he calmed down some, we tried to figure out what happened. He is an excellent communicator when he wants to be. He let us know that he was scared and sad and that he wanted to try again. But the problem is that we had already let him know the rule based on many of these outbursts before. Once he passes up an opportunity and chooses to ignore us, disobey, etc. He loses that chance for the day.
So here we have a child that refused to do something he actually wanted to do and now is whining, crying, and complaining, because he can’t do it anymore (at least for the day). And while I’m struggling to not pull out my hair over how he reacts and over reacts and then constantly comes back and wants to try again even though he totally blew it before, I finally realized… He’s just like me.
Ignoring God, thinking I know best, doing my thing, living my own way, my rules, my terms, my conditions… then, when things don’t work out, the whining starts. Why me? What have I done? I don’t deserve this! It’s not fair!
The saddest part? All of it, every last piece of it, can in some way be traced back to me not wanting to talk to the Father. If I spent the right time with the right heart in His presence everyday… none of this would happen.
Buts that not all. I actually thought, this is a great opportunity to teach him grace. I could let him talk to his parents and make him so happy and teach him biblical truth all at the same time.
But I was so scared he would expect grace every time… I let the moment pass.
Because I know how he is already. I know how I am. I need grace every time. All of the progress we made would be lost, he would become dependent on grace and never act correctly on his own the first time. He would be just like me. And I can’t stand that thought.
Desperate to teach this child important life lessons, I refused him the most important teaching of all… the one I depend on every day. I pray God forgives my ignorance and continues to pour grace over undeserving, frequent offenders. And I’m thankful He keeps His sense of humor up while teaching me through the foibles of a four year old.