“There’s a correlation, I’m finding, between beauty and perseverance, between looking for lovely and not giving up. And beauty is in the eye of the beholder, isn’t it? It’s not just in the things that everyone sees, but it’s what you see, what sticks out to you, the unique moments that God gives you to collect and hold and draw strength from during the difficult times” -Annie F. Downs in Looking for Lovely
Every night at dinner, we each say two things we are thankful for. We’ve been doing this for as long as I can remember. Maybe even before Harrison could talk. Lately, one of the boys has had trouble coming up with something. He says similar things most days, but as he gets older, we try to teach him to search for deeper things. Daniel is so good about modeling how we can find the lovely in seemingly mundane things. He’s thankful for cars that get us where we need to go. He’s thankful for air conditioning. He’s thankful for audio books. He shows the boys that we don’t have to find some enormous situation to be enormously grateful.
Last week we had two upset boys when their plans for ice cream got cancelled. They had a weekend full of sweet treats, parades, cousin play time, surprise lunches, and pizza, but when we opted to eat cookie cake instead of ice cream, their world fell apart, and so did they. We knew they were tired and out of sorts, but we tried desperately to teach them about being grateful for the things we have instead of upset about the things we don’t. We had a similar experience again this week over gum.
As parents, it’s disheartening to see your kids act ungrateful when you provide so much. We may not have as much as some, but we have way more than most. I want them to realize that.
When our son said he couldn’t think of anything he was thankful for, I knew we had to have a Full House moment. Daniel and I named about ten things he could be thankful for- serious things, silly things, everyday things. He didn’t bite. We left him to think about it, and he eventually wrote down that he was thankful for his brother. After he finally came up with something, I noticed he was lighter. I saw his goofiness return, he was more playful, and more loving toward Daniel and me.
In the Bible study I’m doing right now at church, Annie F. Downs talks about looking for the lovely. She anchored the study around Romans 5:3-4 which tells us that suffering produces patience, which produces character, which produces hope. Daniel and I were by no means suffering at our child’s ungratefulness, but we were frustrated. Still, we kept reiterating the importance, because we knew it would pay off. Perseverance in our efforts to discipline our kids not only shapes our characters, but our kids’ as well.
Will our kids have things to say thank you about today? Maybe not. Will we have another meltdown over desserts? Probably so. But I truly believe they will become fewer and farther between; that is my hope. We will continue in pursuit of Proverbs 22:6, which says “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” (NKJV)
Someone wise on Facebook once said “Mommin’ ain’t easy”. It’s hard, holy work. Today, my other son has said thank you a little more, yes ma’am and yes sir a few more times, and given unsolicited hugs and kisses. We’re getting there, little by little. Our goal today was no complaining, and so far, we’re on track.
I say all this, not to say I have it all figured out or even to commiserate, but to say that whatever you’re doing today to prepare your kids for adulthood is important. Don’t give up. Don’t lose hope. They’ll get there, and the world will thank you for it.
Keep on, dear friends!