My son and I have had some battles for much of his school age years over waking up in the morning. When he was a little guy, I bought him a rooster alarm clock that hollered, “Cock-a-doodle, Doo! You gotta get up, you gotta get up, you gotta get up this mo-o-ornin’!” but the only person that got up was me. I tried dousing his face with water. Until he outgrew me, I would even stand him up in the mornings. What came of that was a child who didn’t feel responsible for waking up. I had to let him be late at his very strict school a number of times until the demerits he racked up sent him off to Saturday school. Finally, after suffering the punishment of his ways, he changed.
But then he turned very surly and began barking out orders to me, something I considered very disrespectful. In short, although we had conquered one problem, we were still dealing with conflict.
I used to believe that true happiness was a life free of conflict. It was taught in some Christian circles in those days that when you “just say yes to Jesus” that your life will get easier. Mine got worse.
What is more accurate about life, whether walking in faith, or without it, is that conflict is more a daily part of life than days free of it. But the difference came when I put actions to the mouth service I learned to parrot as a teen, and finally surrendered. Then when I began to mature in my faith I was better equipped to swim through conflicts like a marathon contender. Maturity builds confidence but better than that, wisdom.
Recently I had to pray that God would help me learn to deal with my son so that he would see patience modeled, rather than shoved down his throat. Instead of lecturing to him on the way to school, I started asking him questions to get his opinion on some faith matters. I was amazed at his answers and at his depth of understanding. Then instead of trying to add to it or throw in my two cents, I thanked him. He softened immediately.
I’m usually grabbing keys, purse, and a bottled water to take to the gym on the way out the door. This morning, Jared was standing at the foot of the stairs, book satchel ready, lunch packed, and, for mom, he was holding out a bottled water.
Conflict is a good thing, really. It’s like an alarm clock that says to my soul, “You gotta wake up, you gotta wake up, you gotta wake up and love!”