This is the trickiest thing I’ve ever done, this parenting.
Benjamin is having a lot of trouble at yochien. It’s not entirely surprising, actually. It’s the same kinds of trouble we have with him at home. He is this boundless ball of energy, full of raw emotion and unbridled passion and he wins the strongest-willed child trophy in our family by a landslide. He seems to have this unchangeable idea in his head that things should and must go as he wants them to in all situations, and if they don’t, it isn’t pretty. We have read all the books, tried all the tricks, and we feel like we’re doing the very best that we can for him, and continuing to be “teachable” as his parents. But it’s a huge risk, bringing up a child and sending them out into the world. They don’t come with guarantees, but the Word of God promises that if we “bring up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” But how old? Egad. Scary part.
The biggest thing we want for our children (aside from having hearts that LOVE God) are to guide them to have hearts that happily obey Him. With Claire and Adam, we’ve had our struggles, but it all seems to be going the right way. They’re pretty much responding the way “the books” say they will! But not Benjamin, and it scares me to death. I pray for that boy more than I pray for the other three combined. Our pastor has said to us that he thinks Benjamin will be very powerful for the Lord when he grows up. (I really hope that’s a prophesy and not just a hunch, Pastor Paul!) Those words have stuck with me so strong. Every time I’m in the process of correcting Ben or punishing Ben, or teaching Ben, I am thinking in the back of my mind that someday, “The little tribe of Benjamin, he shall lead them all” (Psalm 68:27).
Yesterday as I sat through a terrible parent-teacher conference and heard report after report of his teacher’s troubles with him at school, I felt terrible for his teacher. But on the way home, I had the strangest concoction of feelings as I reflected on what I’d just heard. I found myself laughing a little over this precious boy’s weaknesses, and how they are so similar to my own. He’s like this little microcosm of me, poor thing. His character is so much like mine in so many ways. And the same things that Benjamin struggles with are the things that I struggle with–controlling my emotions, wanting to do things MY way, having so much energy and passion and struggling to channel it into the right places at the right times and not just overwhelm everyone with my bursts of intensity. I laughed and cried on the way home, and felt sorry for the little guy. He’s only four, after all. He’s just starting out, really. But I have this quiet confidence in my heart that the Lord has HIS hand on Benjamin too. Somehow, God keeps reminding me over and over that I’m not alone in this. Not only is Keith an amazing father, but we’ve got Him in our corner too. I felt almost a little guilty for not feeling more guilty at Ben’s behavior at school. Does that make any sense at all? Somehow God has given me the grace to see Ben’s big picture. His journey may not be as neat and tidy as Claire’s or Adam’s might be. But in my heart, I can feel it that Pastor Paul is right. That this little man is going to do great things for God, once God gets a hold of him good!!
Today Ben and I had a really good talk. For the first time, I think Benjamin understood sin. We talked about why he does the things he does (and why I sometimes do the wrong things I do), because our hearts are filthy dirty. And when our hearts are dirty, the things that come out of our mouths and our actions will be dirty too. Benjamin looked up at me with teary eyes and asked a question that melted my heart,
“Mom, do you think God could come to our house?”
“Yes, I do. But why, honey?” I replied.
“Because I need Him to clean my heart.”
From the mouths of babes…