Monday was an interesting day, and not in a good way. I am highly aware of my shortcomings, but it doesn't mean I am any better about correcting them. But as a parent our shortcomings are never more evident than when they filter through our children. There is an old saying that goes, "there's more caught than taught," meaning our children learn more by example than by instruction.
Monday I learned a little about the poor example I sometimes set for my kids. I'm going to lay myself right out here, because let's face it, that's what I do. But I would ask that you not judge me, because we all have our sin issues (I almost called it shortcomings again, but let's be honest, let's just call a spade a spade.)
The source of the two greatest sin issues in my life is my mouth. I have an issue with what I put in it (I am a stress eater, which is sin, because let's face it, I'm getting my comfort from somewhere else than I should) and I have an issue with what I let come out of it. There is a saying that I could not validate as a scripture that says, "The sins of the father shall be visited on the sons." I heard it being discussed recently and the person making mention of it was discussing that grace makes the possibility of it invalid. I tend to have my own personal opinion about what the saying means, by no means claiming it a biblical principle.
I think what it means is that when a parent moves in a particular sin, it can be passed on to the children. It's that "more is caught that taught principle." Although I know I am "in Christ" and therefore a "new creation," I also know that my flesh has not been completely put to death yet, and the fact of the matter is, it will never be so in this lifetime. In fact 1 Corinthians 13:12 talks about our metamorphosis into Christ-likeness is life long as it says, "For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known." Basically, the end result won't be achieved before I stand before Christ, Himself.
I know that in part my own struggles with foul language come from my growing up. My parents both used lots of "colorful language" when I was a kid. I heard profanity all the time. I still here it quite a bit. There is something in my flesh that now has the propensity to use it. It's my heart's desire not to use it, because I know what the bible says about both blessing and cursing coming out of the same mouth, it ought not to be. (James 3:9-12) But there are things as they should be, and things as they actually are.
Monday morning, I don't even remember why, Neal and I were actually having a conversation about how fortunate we are that for the most part it seemed we had been fortunate that our kids hadn't picked up this same sin. Neal could recollect a single incident when Jake was about 8 or 9 that a single word slipped out of his mouth in a bounce house altercation. The other kids had maybe tried a word or two when they were very little, but for the most part it seemed we were somehow avoiding having issue with the kids picking up this struggle. Neal does not struggle in this way, I have never seen a man better able to hold his tongue than my husband, so I guess that's how I know he is wise, but I cannot claim the same strength of character in this are as Neal.
Anyway, then came Monday afternoon when I went to pick the little kids up from school. Apparently a word had "proceeded from the mouth" of my little doodle bug, and there was nothing glorifying about it. It was during an intense game of dodge ball, but it did not excuse what had happened. By the time I was brought into the situation there had apparently been quite a bit of drama having passed. The offense had been committed, the tattling had been made to a lunch supervisor, referral to the Vice Principal, E was tried and found guilty and sentenced to a day of campus clean up for the following day throughout all his recesses and during his lunch.
Now according to Jacob, who I quizzed the moment I got home, the particular word Ethan chose is not one of the words I typically struggle with. According to Neal on the other hand, it's a word he has heard me say. He says I use it driving, I don't think I do, because I know my word of choice for driving is although rude, not actually profane (Idiot!) although both exemplify my struggle with keeping my tongue in check. (James 3:8 "But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison.")
When the teacher came over after school to hand me the note about the incident, she called my son over and said she felt he needed to tell me what had happened, she didn't feel it was her place. When Ethan told me, I immediately felt conviction. It was a horrible feeling. And I stood over him reprimanding him in front of the teacher, all the while in my mind thinking, "this is my fault!" A moment later the vice principal walked over and handed me the "full report" listing what had happened in the office as well as his consequences and I was supposed to take it home and sign it. I asked the VP if he had seen true repentance in him and he said, eventually he had. He started out evasive, but eventually everything came to a positive resolution.
In the car on the way home Ethan informed me he told the VP that he hears that kind of language in our home "all the time." That's not true. And honestly, I think out of Ethan's own guilt, he was trying to pass the fault on to someone else, ME! But the fact of the matter is, I struggle with my temper (I am SOOO a work in progress!) and when it flares, my mouth can take flight. I know this, when I do speak with profanity, I always own it as the sin it is. I apologize to my children and I admit my fault, but that has yet to be a key to victory over it. According to my other two children, I don't slip all that much (do you hear me trying to soften it with words like slip??) but there is no doubt in our home, I am the one who has an issue with it.
Conviction is a yucky feeling. It's our nature to try to get out of it. Justification, excuses, validation - there are a number of tactics that we use to try to make sin less than it is. Sin is missing the mark, it's wrong, it is bad actions, bad choices, and in my case and Ethan's, bad words. Ephesians 4:29 says, "Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers." I don't think it is coincidence that this was one of the first scriptures I ever felt impressed to memorize, and yet it is a principle I still struggle to live out. Thank goodness I can be "confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6)
I felt really bad for Doodle Bug on Tuesday when he had to spend the day paying for his sin, and I felt bad because I know at least in part, he was also paying for mine. As a parent we have a huge responsibility to remember that our sins affect our kids. We can visit our own sins upon them and cause them to struggle with them too. Perhaps my struggle isn't the same as yours, but we all have our own struggles, maybe if we consider the impact it has on others, we'll fight that much harder to overcome them.
This morning on the way to school Ethan and I sang an old song together, "Oh be careful little eyes what you see"... and I reached back behind him and squeezed his knee as we sang, "Oh be careful little mouth what you say, oh be careful little mouth what you say, for the Father up above is looking down with love, so be careful little mouth what you say." For me I am realizing that it isn't just the Father above looking down that I need to consider, but also the little eyes looking from behind me.
Lord have mercy on me, and help me to better follow You that I may better lead my children.