Friday, April 9, 2010

A lesson from a stranger...

I was at the post office a few weeks ago standing in line and there was a small boy looking at the greeting cards. (yes the post office sells greeting cards now) The woman manning the passport office saw him and asked him not to play with the cards. His father looked back at him and asked him to come over to him. The little boy looked up at him with a scared/embarassed face and the man said this, "it's ok son. You didn't do anything wrong", put his arm around him and stood waiting for service. He finished his business and left the building.

A few minutes later I saw this same man with his son walking into the post office striding purposefully past the lines and straight to the passport office where the woman who spoke to this boy was sitting. The man walked to the door and after initial pleasantries he said this, "I wanted you to know that I told my son he could pick a card. He was reading them. He wasn't playing with them. This boy wouldn't do that." She quickly apologized and he restated that he understood but his son wouldn't do that. No anger or raised voices involved. He simply came to the defense of his son.

I was moved by this and felt the tap tap tap of the Holy Spirit on my shoulder. How many times have I been in a store when I see someone walking down the aisle and my children move over and I *gulp* apologize for their being in that person's way. I know I'm not alone in this and there are times when a quick, "I'm sorry" might be appropriate. But, I was made painfully aware at that moment how often I apologize for my children instead of standing with them. I so quickly shift from their mother and protector to someone who apologizes because they are behaving like children.

I thanked God the revelation. I was supposed to simply walk in the post office and mail this box but I was forced to stand in line because it wouldn't fit in the slot and I'm not one to cut in line to hand them a package (everyone has been waiting after all). In that moment, God gave me a glimpse into my own shortcomings and reminded me that He stands with me at all times. I am to do that with my children.

From that moment on my heart was awakened to the reality that so many times I am "siding" with complete strangers as I apologize for my children when no offense has been committed. What message am I sending to them when I do that?

Not a message I wish to send so I am paying attention, catching myself in the act and asking for God to hold my tongue when appropriate. God is gracious and things are better but, as is true of other things, it's a work in progress.

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