While we’re not who we want to be,
we’re not who we used to be,
and so we thank You for Your faithfulness . . .
– Jean Fleming
God is faithful to grow me, and in this is great hope.
My family sat around our friends’ breakfast table the Saturday after Thanksgiving. We passed two pancake-piled plates, honey, syrup, and a bowl of yogurt mixed with fruit from the freezer. The syrup, like the hospitality, was very warm. I preferred my pancakes plain and kept passing the syrup (but soaked up the hospitality poured so liberally). I served myself generous scoopfuls of the peaches and blueberries, their summer sweetness frozen into them. The cold in my mouth startled me a bit, like the question the pancake-maker asked my sons:
“Boys? I have a question I’d like each of you to answer. Tell me—what’s one thing about your mom that you like, and what’s one thing about your dad that you like?”
I froze colder than the peaches by my pancakes. Wondering if my sons would have anything to say, I glanced at this woman who dared ask such a question while I was present. I considered locking myself in the bathroom until the conversation was over, but instead I slowly lowered the edge of my fork down through my pancakes, plain and bare as the question made me.
All three boys were silent. No answer was ready at their lips. Their mouths were empty of words, so they (and I) kept filling them with pancake bites.
Finally, Titus spoke. “My mom gives us BIG dessert servings.”
Byron, the youngest, followed with, “I like how Dad gives little dessert servings.” (I still don’t understand this.)
Silly answers continued for a bit. During silent lulls the questioner made some suggestions—things she liked about us as parents. Her prompting worked, for more answers came.
Titus said, “I like how Dad invents toys,” so the conversation turned to Charles’s toymaking.
Eventually, our eldest gave his answer. “I finally thought of something,” he began. (That “finally” rung loud in my spirit.) “I like how my mom cares for us and educates us, and she even spends her own money on it!” (I did smile at that. Who else besides their parents would pay for our school materials and books?)
Then came the big hammer. Derek continued about Charles: “And one thing I really like about Dad is, he never yells. I mean, not ever.”
My mind replayed twelve years of parenting. Derek spoke truth; Charles had never (really, never!) yelled at our children. But my mind replayed another version of those twelve years: I did yell at them. It wasn’t hard to recall the times I raised my volume or turned on that ugly, harsh voice.
Derek’s answer was not only about Charles. It was about me. I can’t really call it a revelation, for I already knew this truth. This one thing he likes about his Dad is the same one thing he dislikes about his Mom. This son never spoke it, but I’ve known since he was a toddler that he can’t stand when I yell at them.
Breakfast went on. The conversation turned to other things. But the conviction about yelling remained with me all morning, all that day, and even now. Not only did the Holy Spirit convict me that yelling at my kids is still a problem, but He also assured me that He cares about me and my spiritual life. After all, I have been pleading for God’s help in this particular weakness. I am thanking God because I recognize that, through this breakfast, God once again demonstrated His love for me. He doesn’t want me to retain that part of who I am, and He is answering my prayer with this gentle reminder.
So, I’m encouraged. God heard my prayer and granted my request. He is helping me, and I will keep praying.
Father, please keep helping me to be the mother You want me to be. Thank you that, because of You, I am not the mother I once was.
Make me know Thy ways, O Lord,
Teach me Thy paths.
Lead me in Thy truth and teach me,
For Thou art the God of my salvation;
For Thee I wait all the day.
(Posting here until I can figure out why I can’t log in at my other place.)