I'm Lindsay Ferrier, a Nashville writer with a passion for family travel, exploring Tennessee, and raising kids without losing my mind in the process. This is where I share my discoveries, along with occasional deep thoughts, pop culture tangents and a sprinkling of snark. Want to get in touch? Use the CONTACT form at the top of the page.
October 18, 2011
I am now entering Day Four of a family vacation to Chattanooga and Gatlinburg and I am learning by this experience that nothing will try your patience like your own children.
I mean, we’re having a blast– swimming in hotel pools, eating lots of ice cream, giggling our way through mirror mazes, shopping for souvenirs, and riding amusement park rides– but I’m not going to lie to you.
I need a break.
My children are four and seven-years-old, and sharing a single hotel room with them for four days running is… challenging. Their playtime turns into bickering about every 3-5 minutes. And even when they’re getting along, they’re bored! Hungry! Thirsty! They want to do this! And that! And then this again! And their motors run so much longer than ours. By 10:30 last night, my husband and I were ready to drop from exhaustion, but the kids were still laughing and squealing and going strong!
I NEED IT!
Suitably, yesterday I watched the latest video session in the online Beth Moore Bible study I’m doing with some of you right now (we took a week off last week so that we could all catch up on the homework, did you notice?)– and it was all about PATIENCE.
It could not have been more timely.
And here’s the nugget that I think all of you could use, no matter your belief system. Beth identified three major points about the people in our lives who try our patience:
It’s not very comfortable to admit that my own children make me feel this way, because I really do love them with everything that’s in me and they give me a lot of joy, but I do have to admit that all of these points are true at times when it comes to dealing with them. I think that every parent would agree with me, whether they’re raising toddlers or teens.
Emotionally backing off from a relationship with small children is an impossibility for most parents- They simply need us too much.
But having raised two stepdaughters, I can’t tell you how many parents I’ve seen back away from their children once the kids reach puberty. And looking at this list, I know that a large part of the reason that so many parents emotionally wash their hands of their kids at that point is that their children are trying their patience like no one has ever tried it before. And it’s rough. And it hurts. And it’s ugly. And as your own children reach that age, you’ll start encountering parents of their peers who ignore the 10:30 pickup time you set for your daughter’s sleepover, and don’t show up until 5 that afternoon. And parents who set no Internet limitations or filters whatsoever on their sixth grader, because it keeps him out of their hair. And parents who let their kids and their friends drink at their house or have boyfriends and girlfriends over for spend-the-nights, because it makes the parent-child relationship “less difficult.”
These are just a few things I’ve seen over the last few years. It’s not pretty. And it’s not making it any easier on the parents who are toughing out the rough years and not backing down from their convictions and commitment to their kids, no matter how much it hurts.
Patience. We’re going to need endless amounts of it before our kids are on their own!
Beth’s point in the video session is that as Christians, we are scripturally called to have community with one another. We’re designed to get involved with others and to have relationships. And when there are relationships, there is friction. There will be squabbles and disagreements and our patience will be sorely tested, whether they’re our children or our friends or co-workers.
Our natural inclination is to back off of the more troublesome relationships. Women are especially good at this- How many of us have just kind of shut out the other women in our lives who’ve had a disagreement with us, or who simply get on our nerves?
But Beth made a really interesting point- The relationships that try our patience the most can be precisely the ones that refine us, and make us better people. Beth says that God uses these trying relationships to help us identify our own failings and eliminate them. I believe this, but I think that even if you are not a Christian, you could see the wisdom in this. Your best relationship at the end of the road- the one that created the most positive changes in you– might not have been your easiest relationship.
It might be the one that most tested your patience.
Of course, there are certain relationships that should be abandoned because they involve physical or emotional abuse or because they’re toxic to you and your family. But I think you’d agree that most of your troubled relationships simply fall into the “irritating” or “difficult” category.
I want to remember Beth’s points particularly as my children grow older. As much as I love them, I’m sure that there will be times as they get older when I’m emotionally tempted to pull back and to protect my heart. I want to remember at those times that the pain is exactly what could be giving me more compassion with others, more empathy, more PATIENCE– and turning me into the person I’m longing to be.
What do you think?
*We’re in the fifth week of Beth Moore’s “Living Beyond Yourself” online study, but you can join at any time and go at your own pace. For more information on how to do that, go here.
*And if you’d like to join my Facebook group for women doing the study right now, e-mail me at email@example.com and I’ll add you to the group!
Image via Stephanie Zens/Flickr