Late yesterday afternoon, my husband met me in the driveway as I pulled in from a much-needed nail appointment. “Babe. There was an accident and I just want to prepare you before walking in the house…” My heartbeat accelerated, I started to sweat, and panicked visions of blood and broken bones outlining the living room flashed through my mind.
Turns out, it was not anything nearly that catastrophic. My favorite Jim Shore Snowman-Holding-a-Cat figurine had violently plunged to the floor where it lay decapitated and in pieces, heartbreakingly staring up as if to bid me a final, devastating farewell.
I immediately looked from one guilty little boy’s face to another (my boys were around 9 and 11 years old), though I knew exactly who the culprit was, as I had already been warned. Giving this child a chance to tell me exactly what happened, I was hopeful he would not leave out any major details. I was disappointed when he simply said, “Sorry Mom, it was an accident.”
I knew better, as I had been warned that the casualty occurred during an angry video game outburst, followed by a violent thrusting of the remote, which led to the mass of snowman parts lying on my living room floor. I looked around, took stock of the situation, counted to 10 (or maybe just five), and then laid into my dear, sweet, still-somewhat-angry child.
I told him about the dangers of reacting while angry, how it is okay to get mad, but if video games make him violent enough to throw things which results in breaking my hard-earned (actually, it was a gift) and well-loved belongings, then the video games must go. I continued on my rant for several minutes, as I stared into his blank face, which no doubt held a myriad of emotions he refused to share with me in my own current state of anger.
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It was only after a workout and some time to reflect and decompress that I realized the irony of this situation. Who was I to hypocritically preach to my son on the evils of mismanaging anger, when I am the absolute Queen of, you guessed it….mismanaging anger! Where does he get it? A hollow yet resounding…me. Especially lately, as my attempts to adjust to recent life changes (a new marriage, a possible move, and more freelance work) had caused an uptick in financial, behavioral, and work-related stress levels.
My particular brand of stress management often comes with keeping all things buried down deep until they finally spew in a flurry of yelling, crying (many times both), and feeling completely helpless. So I could totally relate to the broken snowman in question, and how he came to be…broken.
I knew there would be a verse that spoke straight to this very situation. I did a bit of research (thanks, Google) and found the verse I was looking for. I pondered these verses, found in Ephesians, Chapter 4 (31-32):
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
I realized right away what I had to do. I called my still-sulking oldest son into my bedroom and sat with him on the bed. I apologized for my outburst of anger. I explained that while I completely understand that accidents happen, some can be avoided if we seek to control our actions when angry. This was a particularly difficult conversation to have, since I knew I had been guilty of the very same sins in which I was lecturing my firstborn baby. We talked for a bit. We laughed, we hugged, and we moved on.
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I am still reliving this dramatic scene with my son as I feel it is more of a learning lesson for me. How many times have I caused discord, damage, or irreparable brokenness in my own life? Whether it be a personal relationship, a career, a lifestyle choice, the possibilities are endless. While accidents do happen, we occasionally help them along by reacting in a less-than-Christlike way, which only further pours salt into the painfully open wounds of life.
Could it be that God allows us to deal with the consequences of these actions to help us understand that, while some things are irrevocably damaged and broken beyond repair, it is the heart and soul of man that is God’s primary focus, much more than the broken mess we all inevitably leave behind?
I realized as I was lecturing my son that materials, assets, belongings, and treasured items can and will be broken in this life. But the souls and hearts of our children cannot withstand that amount of pressure. These lives are the most precious gifts in which God entrusts to his adult children upon this earth.
I feel terrible that I let my anger go unchecked. This served as a wake-up call to put space between my anger and my reactions. To realize that while my beloved broken snowman-holding-a-cat loss is sad, it is absolutely nothing compared to the desolation I would feel if the relationship with my loved ones suffered.
I am thankful God uses the moments I assume are meant to teach my children to, in reality, school me as his beloved child. I am thankful for his loving grace, his sweet forgiveness, his ability to leave me in my mess long enough to realize I cannot escape without the abundance of love, patience, and understanding offered from above.
I have broken countless treasures in my own life. But I am oh so thankful that God does not hold those things against me. That he comforts me in my pain and allows me to learn lessons from those mistakes. Sure, there have been some lessons harder learned than others, but there is absolutely nothing on this earth that is worth mourning more than a broken relationship with my Lord. It is my heavenly father’s love for me that serves to exemplify the relationship which I long to have with my own two sons.
With some creativity, my beloved snowman may or may not have some life left in him. But his sacrifice taught a much greater lesson. There will be accidents, sin, selfishness, anger, and even rage in this world….in my world. And, in yours. It is inevitable. It is what we do with those strong emotions that counts. Every time I look at my old-snowman-turned-new-vase, I will recall the lesson I attempted to teach my son, but in reality, and like so many other life lessons since I became a mother, he taught me instead.