The boys and I were learning about putting others first one morning last week, when Isaiah stomped out of the kitchen and ran to his room upstairs. I wanted to yell after him, but held back because his little brother was watching. He comes back a few minutes later in a funk and offered no explanation for what happened.
So, I lectured him about his disrespectful behavior until it turned into nagging. This was my tactic to get him to talk. And it backfired. Instead of opening up, the poor kid was emotional the rest of the day. That was how our week began and continued because I didn’t put Isaiah first. I chose to let out my frustration, thinking he deserved to hear it.
Truth is, I stink at putting my boys first. I’m usually not willing to hear their side of the story. I don’t give them a chance to tell me what is on their minds. I get upset and frustrated when they can’t express how they feel. It is difficult for me to show them tenderness and to be understanding. I have a bad habit of raising my voice and talking down to them as though it is my parental right to do so. I think their feelings aren’t legit because they are kids, so I don’t give him a voice. I don’t do a good job of putting them first.
Graciously, God reminded me how we have been learning about humility, putting others first by giving up what we think we deserve. So, I put humility into action by reaching out to Isaiah with gentleness and kind words. I apologized for not listening and gave him permission to call me out when I’m speaking at him with harshness. I asked him to let me know when my words and actions hurt him, so I can make it right.
After our conversation, Isaiah shared that he didn’t know how to express his frustrations because I wasn’t listening to him. You see, I was multitasking the morning of our conflict. I had asked a question. He answered. I didn’t hear him because I was on the phone, reading, and talking to him. All at the same time. Then, I accused him of not answering and was adamant about being right. I insisted that he purposely ignored me, when I was the one ignoring him because I wasn’t listening!
Since last week, we have made some progress as we practice putting one another first. Isaiah is learning to talk about what is on his mind and honoring others with his actions.
As for me, I will continue to practice listening and focus on doing one thing at a time (this will be a challenge!). I have to work at showing gentleness to my boys and use kind words to encourage them, even when they have done wrong. I have to put my boys first by giving them a chance to express how they feel. Otherwise, I can expect emotional outbursts from my kids because they are frustrated with not being allowed to share what is on their hearts.
I know this is a day by day and situation by situation work in progress. By practicing humility and putting one another first, I know we won’t fail God or each other.