Thursday, March 20, 2008
Taping Pears to Tree Limbs
My kids were at it again—laser rays of disrespect and anger (and was that a cuss word from my fourth grader’s mouth?) shot back and forth across the hall toward each other. I was discouraged by the recent escalation in their fighting and attitudes. Being the problem solver that I am, my mind quickly started grappling for solutions on the slippery shale of parenting.
I immediately created a plan of action to start hammering verses into their little minds. How else would they learn to “Do unto others” and “Let their gentleness be evident to all?” I decided I needed to run to the Christian bookstore and get a family devotional (not that there aren’t several dusty ones on my book shelf—but new ideas need new materials). All this raced into my mind with a tinge of panic. Could I undo all the nights we didn’t sit down and study God’s word together? Was it too late for them to become kind and loving once again? Would they be friends with each other when they reached adulthood?
Number two on my list (with many exclamations around it) was the daily prayer time we needed to start. I would sit them down in a circle and teach them how to pray together and for each other. Bring them quickly into God’s presence so they could learn to think of others before themselves.
Then I heard a noise and realized that God was clearing his throat. Sort of an Ahem!
Into the midst of my racing thoughts, I saw a picture of a tree full of green foliage. Barren except for the lush glossy leaves. Then I saw the tree again, with lovely green pears taped to its limbs.
I got it. Rather than getting to the root of the problem—the anemic soil and lack of water or other nutrients—in my need to fix, I was attempting to tape fruit onto the branches.
Performance is really what it was. I wanted the outward appearance that all was well.
Trying to pound a rich spiritual life into my children isn’t going to take. Maybe I can tape a few pears to their arms, but they’ll soon wither and fall off.
God reminded me that I need to invest into them. Take time with them. Hug them. Stop and listen when they speak without finishing the dish I was washing. Go outside and play a round of basketball with them. Snuggle in bed with them at night for a few minutes (instead of flopping into a chair with my exhausted, “Finally, the house is quiet,” sigh). This is what will nourish their soil and sprout good fruit. I guess I won't need that industrial sized roll of tape after all.