Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Excuse Note, Or: But I Have a Reason

We lived through another long day. A long day with many errands occasionally punctuated by fun. (Any errand running day with five children is a long day. I love my five but I'm not going to lie to you.)

Then the errands were over, the fun was complete (trip to the library, supper at Chick-Fil-A, just what the tired family ordered!). Home again.

Home where we could not just crash and sit and finish our Cherry Cokes with crushed ice from Chick-Fil-A (OK, that was just me. The kids had apple juice.), and read our new library books and just generally goof off.

Because, laundry. Because, dishes (from earlier in the day, not Chick-Fil-A). Because, chores.

These were accordingly done with varying levels of excellence and /or cheerfulness from the weary parents and the tired but not admitting it (and over-stimulated) children.

One child was not balking at doing the chores but she was not working quickly either. At a certain point (about fifteen minutes after the point where I was convinced the children needed to be in their room for bedtime already) one of my children was still out working on folding her clothes from her basket of laundry.

"Just take that to your room and finish it," I instructed, still working on a task (or two or three...) myself. She didn't move.

"There's more room out here," she said.

I was slow to react. It really had been a long day. But eventually my brain caught up.

"Maybe you didn't hear me," I said after a few long seconds, "I told you to take it to your room." I spoke slowly, I didn't yell.

She complied. (And, it must be pointed out, without whining, complaining, or crying, which is good.)

And then my husband and I talked about what had just happened. Well, first we did that thing where our eyes meet and we just shake our heads because we are in complete agreement with each other.

Maybe this would be a different story if she had asked, "Would it be OK for me to finish out here because there's more room?" Or even just, "Could I finish it here?"

Even then, the answer would still have been no. Philip and I were ready for the children to be in their room. End of story. But it would have been a lighter moment. Instead it felt heavy and important. Like I couldn't let her just ignore my instructions now because what about later? And has this been happening lately without my noticing?

"What made her think that disobedience was OK if she had a reason?" I asked my husband.


This is what I do. This is me.

I think disobedience is OK because I have reasons. Oh boy, do I have reasons.

There are things that I know I should be doing. There are things I know I certainly ought not to do.

But I have reasons. (This is more comfortable, I know how to do this other thing better, I have more practice doing this, I'm tired, I'm hungry, There's more space over here, This sounds better...)

The thing about reasons is they're just so doggone reasonable.

I'll just do this thing my way in my time because I think it's a good idea. I know I should do that but I'm not going to because...

Do all things without murmuring and disputing?

Love my neighbor as I love myself?

Keep my tongue from evil?

I have reasons why I can't, why I don't. (Those are hard things! And that's just the tip of the commands iceberg.) And all the while the Holy Spirit whispers to my heart, "Do you think your disobedience is better because you have a reason?"

There are no excuse notes. I don't get to say, "Well, losing my temper is OK this time because..." or "I know I should be kind to this person who isn't very kind to me but I'm not going to because..."

So many reasons.

And yet, I want to remember the reasons why I ought to obey and not just obey, but obey with joy. My Heavenly Father knows best. He has a plan for my life. His understanding is perfect and mine is not. He equips me for what He requires of me. I can't complete His commands without His help but He provides what I need. He is gracious and just and loving and merciful and patient and good.

If I can remember those reasons, those truths, my other reasons fade away like an excuse note written in invisible ink.

For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. (Romans 7:19 KJV)

So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. (James 4:17 ESV)

For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, 
God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 
That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; 
but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.
For to be carnally minded is death; 
but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. (Romans 8:3-6 KJV)
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Amy said...

Love, love this post. This happens to me a lot, parenting causing me to see what I must look like in God's eyes. Going to read your particular lessons again!

Elisabeth said...

Yet again, you have managed to find God in the most ordinary of moments. I really need to work on that!

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