The Red Bowl

A few Christmases ago, my grandma gifted my family a set of three bowls: one blue, one red and one orange. They're larger than typical bowls and made of thick plastic, so they quickly became the boys' breakfast bowls. They can hold a LOT of oatmeal and are durable: perfect for little boys with giant appetites and proclivities for spontaneously throwing things.

But every.single.morning. they argued over who got to use the red bowl. I don't know why? Dax doesn't even actually know his colors. But Chief's favorite color is red and, as it goes, Dax decided he needed the red bowl, too.

When I say argue, I mean weeping and gnashing of teeth. All before 6 AM. Screaming and crying and hitting and pinching and biting. All of this over a STUPID RED BOWL.

So, a couple of mornings ago, around 5:51 AM I, very dramatically, decided the red bowl needed to go. I made a show of opening the trash can, lifting the bowl in the air, and dropping it. So mature.

I kid you not, my boys cried... no, WAILED, for almost an hour over the red bowl. In hindsight, not a hall-of-fame parenting moment for me. But it for sure brought clarity on a number of things.

1. Who we are in our homes is, ostensibly, WHO WE ARE. It doesn't matter how I behave when we have guests. If I am unkind and immature to my children at 5:57 AM, then that makes me an unkind and immature person. Who we are when no one is watching is who we are.

2. I don't have to stay here. I don't have to be this person. I actually am capable of changing. It is difficult to be patient with small, irrational sinners. It is difficult not to make a snarky comment or throw my hands in the air in disgust. But, if I can simply remember that they are NO different from me, a sinner in desperate need of grace and teaching, I can extend that same patience and love to them that has been extended to me.

3. Seeking repentance is the greatest training. I had to apologize to my kids for my behavior. I had to ask them to forgive me for being so unkind and immature and for not having self-control. Of course they were quick to forgive me and offer hugs. No matter how we treat someone, we can always  ALWAYS go back and seek forgiveness.

4. Walking with the Spirit is the quickest route to producing fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5 says SO clearly that if we walk by the Spirit, we will not gratify the desires of the flesh... it goes on a few verses later to list the fruit of walking by the Spirit: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. If I am pursuing the Lord by spending time in His word, praying, communing with other believers, that is going to be evident in the fruit in my life. Anytime I neglect these things, the fruit of my flesh are manifested: impatience, irritability, anxiety, anger, harsh words, bitterness, the list goes on and on.

5. Don't take things SO SERIOUSLY. Motherhood is a marathon. And sometimes, when you trip, it's funny. I threw away a plastic bowl. It doesn't mean necessarily mean I need to lie prostrate on the living room floor for 8 hours or that I need to sprinkle ashes on my head and mourn for days. Sometimes I make mistakes and throw away a red bowl. But, guess what? They will never fight over that stupid bowl again! Although I'm sure something else is bound to be a source of contention very soon...

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