It has been raining on and off pretty crazily the past month here in the Bay area of northern California, and this type of weather always reminds me of my favorite quote. I actually have this reminder framed in my bedroom so I see it as I start each day.
Rumi was a Persian poet and Islamic scholar and theologian in the 1200s. And while we might not share the same religion, I can find much value in some his words of wisdom and teachings – advice that stretches across all races, religions, and centuries.
Patience and self-control are the things I pray for the most as a parent. Chasing around four offspring provides plenty of opportunities to practice those virtues. I’ve come to realize I have a fuse that’s on the shorter end when it comes to having to repeat myself while instructing/reminding my kids. It baffles me that the basic routine I think my husband and I have taught our kids seems not to be a routine at all – even after almost a decade. Every step needs a reminder. And that’s where I lose my cool. Also, with four of these beings we’ve created running around the house and laying claim to specific toys, rooms, and even air, they will often lose their cool with each other. In a deliberate effort to raise genuinely kind children, I catch myself screaming at them to stop screaming. I yell that they need to “USE KIND WORDS!!!” Where’s the good example in that?
I go to bed each night thinking back on my reactions of the day and how I could have approached the situations with more grace. I pray that the Lord will shut my mouth, relax my face, and open my heart.
And while this quote certainly doesn’t pertain to just raising kids and should be used in communication with all people, regardless of age, I am most affected by it as a parent. This is the gentle but powerful reminder I need each day that raising my voice and yelling at my children is not teaching or reaching their tender hearts. I need to (literally) be the bigger person and speak to them with the kindness (even if coupled with firmness) that I expect them to use with others. I am reminded that I am raising children to love and serve the Lord and I need to model that with my behavior. I need to extend the same mercy and forgiveness to my children that God extends to me, unconditionally.
“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” – Proverbs 22:6 (NIV)