Jesus said that “if you love me, keep my commandments.”
My sons are not keeping my commandments. “Make your bed, brush your teeth, take a shower once a day (and use soap or shampoo), empty the trash and empty the dishwasher.” With God as my witness, these are the only chores assigned to these boys.
And we only have three “commandments”: Don’t lie, keep your promises, and (the newest one) do not mutter when you walk away from me.
Now, in my opinion, these are not burdensome or onerous requirements, but after four years, you can’t imagine the drama, we still endure over these simple chores and three rules——every single day.
One of my sons is having a hard time in school right now—-in all his classes but PE. So I asked him, and he promised, to bring home extra homework so we can get him caught up and perhaps even make up some projects he missed for some extra credit. It all made sense to me and he agreed. But then he “forgot” to get the homework—-every day for for the past two weeks. Despite my threats, reasoning, logic, long walks with him, et al, he still forgets to bring home the work.
I know that he’s not really forgetting, but that he simply does not want to do these things. I am still a bit fuzzy on the reason(s), but I know that he does not want me to see what he’s not been finishing at school. The spiritual issue is not really Tommy, but my reaction to him. It’s not his lack of compliance that’s causing problems in our home, but my hubris. In my mind, after all my diatribes, offers of rewards, and heartfelt pleas with him to let me help him, his taciturn responses leave me depressed and apathetic about doing much of anything during the day. Truly, if I can’t motivate my own son to bring home his school work so that I can assist him, how can I help anyone?
And the more I talked about all my disappointments with my son, the clearer it became that he could care less about doing what I wanted or how I felt. The real issue is that he has wounded me——he has hurt me. He deliberated disobeyed me and showed no remorse whatsoever. I am losing sleep over his grades and his lack of contrition, but he is sleeping quite well and seems to have no concern at all about how much he has let me down.
Again, the issue is not my son, but me. Somehow I keep forgetting that it’s not my task, as his father, to be loved, but to love with such resolve that my sons are never concerned about me withdrawing that love. Likewise I keep forgetting that when I “get my feelings hurt”, I am showing my sons how petty and immature in my faith I really am… and what a smallish dad I am——truly, I have a long way to go.
God might be disappointed with my choices, and it might grieve Him that I disobey Him, but it does not hurt His feelings. When Peter denied Jesus and straightway Jesus looked him in the eye, it was not because Jesus’ feelings were hurt, but to remind Peter, “I told you this would happen if you did not watch out”. Our heavenly Father and His Son are beyond having their feelings hurt—-my sins and disappointing behavior does not, in any way take away from God’s glory; my failings merely reveal how small I am.
My sons need a father that is not motivated to love them so that he will be loved, and one that is undeterred when he is not properly applauded or praised for the good things he does. Lord God, help me to raise my sons into real men and help me put aside my tendency to be so easily wounded.
I thank God that He is not like me! Although He loves me infinitely more than I can ever love these boys, His “feelings” are bulletproof! He does not go off and sulk or hide His face because He has been “emotionally wounded”. Good grief, why do I forget that He is my example and hero. I can never fail to be the best dad that ever walked on this earth if I love my boys—-and react to their occasion indifference and disobedience—-just as He loves me and reacts to my rather frequent lapses.