Yesterday I relived my teenage years by spending the day at Canada’s Wonderland. Besides the fact that my body was flung into the air at unimaginable speeds (something I enjoyed much more when I was a teenager), it really was such a great day.
At one point in the day I was sitting down to enjoy a meal (an extremely costly meal I might add), and I found myself seated in front of a family of four. Mom, dad, a boy and a girl. The boy looked as though he were about 8 years old…and he was not having a good day.
As his family enjoyed their meal, he just sat there and sobbed.
I became extremely nosey and found myself staring at them. I really wanted to know, why was he crying? What had happened to make him so upset? Here’s what comes to my mind in pondering the mysterious case of this sobbing child.
- We really are selfish beings….I really can’t be sure why it is that this little boy was crying. But judging from the reaction of his parents, it was probably because he wanted something that he just couldn’t have at that moment. And so, despite the fact that his parents were trying everything they could to give their children a wonderful day, he chose to fixate on what he couldn’t have, and whine and complain….His poor sister sat there trying to enjoy her icecream. Icrecream can’t be enjoyed when the person next to you is whining!
Don’t know about you, but I could see a lot of myself in him. If I think about it, much of my whining and complaining is because I’m stuck on something that I want or think I need, and I can’t handle the fact that I don’t have it. I want a day off, can’t have it now. I want to go to sleep early, can’t have it now. I want to go shopping and spend whatever amount I want, can’t have it period. And so, when my selfishness gets the better of me, I “whine and complain”, regardless of how my mood is affecting those around me. How about you, can you relate? Ever let your unmet wants or expectations result in selfish, me-centered behaviour, regardless of the effect it’s having on those around you? True, we don’t physically sit and let our tears of complaint fall in public, but on the inside, we mark a striking resemblance to this sobbing child. How different relationships would be if we focused on the wants and expectations of those around us, rather than simply our own. “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3-4
- Parenting never stops…If I were the parent in that same situation, I would have likely told myself something like this: “I’m trying to have a good day….I just need one day, even one moment off of disciplining and training you. So cry it out and work this one out yourself.” But the truth is, parenting really is a full time job. There are no days off. Of course there is a time and place for addressing behaviour, and when possible, we do need to give ourselves moments of rest. But, our children’s behaviour is in large part our responsibility and must be addressed. God’s word says “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” Proverbs 22:6 As with all things, this is something that can only be done with God’s grace and wisdom and strength. On our own, our patience runs out after moments (sometimes seconds). Thank God for His help in this area of disciplining and training our children.
- There is no perfection on earth….I’ll tell you one thing: a day at Wonderland is expensive! For a family of four to enter the park they are paying well over a hundred dollars. If they don’t want to lug around a suitcase full of food, they are dishing out at least another hundred dollars in food. Then there’s the time they are investing. And the energy of standing in line and pretending to enjoy rides that go against human nature. As parents we will go to extreme measures to give our children memorable days and meaningful experiences. Of course we don’t need to break the bank in order to do that! But as a parent I anticipating learning that regardless of the effort and the “perfect” environment I try to create, my children will still cry, be disappointed, and may even end the day with a tantrum. No day is perfect, and no experience completely satisfying and without flaw. Perfection does not exist this side of heaven, and we need to train our children (and ourselves) to find full satisfaction in God alone. That’s a challenging one “Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere;” Psalm 84:10
I know…I’ve completely analyzed a seemingly simple situation. Maybe he just needed a good cry (I can also relate to that)! But there really are valuable, biblical lessons everywhere we look, even at a picnic table in the middle of Canada’s Wonderland…