Wednesday, October 19, 2016

How To Train Your Dragon

I'm in my little, tiny kitchen trying to make oatmeal. It doesn't require much concentration unless I happen to be reading a book at the same time, like I usually do. So I'm in my kitchen mixing the oatmeal with my left hand and reading on my Nook with the other when along comes my son with his "Mom, look at this!", "Mom, you know what?", "Mom, where's the thing I wanted?", "Mom, I can't find this or that", "Mom, dad scolded me!", "Mom, dad wont let me do this!" and so on. I'm concentrated on what I'm doing and, honestly, I just want to be left alone during these 5 minutes of oatmeal-making-reading extravaganza I have going on. But it's not going to happen. I get frustrated, and my son keeps interrupting and I keep saying, "Not now" or "Ask your father" or "Give me a minute" to no avail. He keeps insisting until my exasperation gets the best of me and I snap at him. And he gets mad and disaster ensues.

Impatient. That's what I am. It's like a fire that's burning all the time and sometimes I'm able to tame it, control it, but other times it burns bright, and strong. Yep, my patience tends to be shaky, thin, and sometimes nonexistent. I try to control my reactions when I'm at a doctor's office, at the checkout line, at work, in church or any other public place. But at home, my beautiful little family doesn't get the same measure of control. I sometimes just let my impatience out, unrestrained, uninhibited, wild, and undomesticated. Not my best trait. Not the best thing to share in public. But it's the truth. Outside the house, I try my best to train my patience well, but at home I let my frustrations get the best of me and in return I have given my family the frayed leftovers.

Sometimes it's the funny impatience over the Colts loosing another football game in the most ridiculous way possible. Other times, it's the 'adorable' way in which I play Mario Party or Mario Kart, insulting Yoshi along the way... I hate that dino and its quirks... But most of the time it's the shameful way in which I react and respond to my husband and son, and perhaps the cat. I believe I've made good progress in this area, but I still have a long way to go, most of all if I want to set a good example for our son. Because, you see, my son inherited that explosive, impatient side of me, so the last thing he needs is watching me not exercising self control.

So what can I do to control, tame, and train my impatience, a.k.a. my dragon? What does the Bible say? "...let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath" (James 1:19) and " patient, bearing with one another in love" (Ephesians 4:2). So, I have to stop, breathe, think, and show love to the other person. Extend grace. Think of others before I think of myself, before I think about my own comfort. I'm not saying that I have to completely disregard my desire to have 5 minutes to read. I'm just saying that it would go much better if I take my eyes off the reader for a second, look my son in the eyes and tell him, "Let me finish this page. I'll be with you in a moment." You know, answer him in a respectful and mature way because with children, as with husbands, I have learned that I cannot be distracted.

Distraction will make your impatience grow exponentially. What does this mean? This is me, reading my book while my husband watches tv. He will, undoubtedly, interrupt me because he wants me to see a commercial or listen to what the announcer said about my loosing Colts or listen to whatever he's listening. Now this is me taking my eyes off my book for a second and saying, "Oh, yeah, right" and going back to reading my book. My husband knows I didn't pay attention. I gave him a distracted attention. I pretended. So guess what? He interrupts me again. And the fiery monster called impatience rears its head and out come the flames. Same cycle as my son... Now, the easy route would be for me to think, "Hey. I have the right to read in peace, to not be interrupted. He can see me. He sees that I'm reading!" And I would be right, but also, I would be wrong.

If I think only about myself, what can I expect from my husband and my son? They would do the exact same thing. But God wants us to think about one another, to bear one another in love, to think about others first. My husband knows his manners; he knows what's right. We've taught our son to wait his turn, to say excuse me, and to think of others first. And I have to do the same. If all of us, as a family, did this things would go so much easier. If I'm making oatmeal and reading my book and my son comes up to me to ask something, how easy would it be for me to ignore him, scold him for interrupting me or pay him a distracted attention! And how quickly would my impatience arise a few seconds after that at his insistence!

But if he comes and I focus for a moment on him a fire would be squelched, a back and forth fight would be adverted, my impatience would be tamed and the dragon would be trained. And I would be able to go back to reading quickly and unfiery. It's much more easier and the results are much more peaceful when we follow God's instruction to show a little grace, bear with love and be slow to wrath. Impatience conquered! Well, for now anyway.

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