Sucking it up and biting the bullet, sitting down at the edge of the laundry mountain and finishing that most loathed task without complaining is a beautiful way to suffer in silence. While we model our proper vocation for our children (thus potentially improving their future relationships with their own vocations and thus their relationships with God), we are bringing ourselves closer to God as well. If we complain the whole time we do it, the laundry might get done, but our hearts will be clouded with all sorts of ideas about how unfair it is that we have to endure such a horrendous task, rather than with gratitude that we own enough clothes to make piles and that we have a family to wear them.
But sometimes, perhaps often, depending on our circumstance, suffering in silence is the exact wrong thing to do. If someone is doing harm to themselves and their relationship with God and is taking us down with them, or even attempting to, suffering in silence is just another way of saying “That sinful thing you’re doing is okay” or “I don’t deserve love and respect”, both of which are always and everywhere untrue.
Can we go back to parenting again for a second? Imagine you’re managing the angry outburst of a frustrated 4 year old. He is absolutely beside himself and suddenly he reaches out his hand to strike you. Do you allow it? Do you then “turn the other cheek”? Oh, hell no. To stop his hand in midair before he has a chance to make contact and to address his unacceptable behavior firmly and instantly is the only kind and Christian thing to do. Allowing him to make a habit of a) disrespecting his parents, b) disrespecting fellow human beings, and c) lashing out physically when he feels frustrated is doing no one any favors.
It would not improve his budding relationship with God. And ignoring your duties to raise respectful, Godly children would certainly not improve yours. Plus, as a son or daughter of God, you deserve love and respect. Denying yourself that is to deny your fundamental dignity.
So where does that leave my eldest daughter and her willingness to “suffer” at the hands of her angry little sister? While the perpetrator of the physical crime is obviously in the wrong, I’m willing to say that my eldest, in her lack of response, was also in the wrong. Allowing the fight to continue didn’t bring either of them closer to goodness. It didn’t improve anyone’s relationship with God. It didn’t show anyone the face of patience and mercy. And it didn’t validate her own worthiness of love and respect.
Of course, the onus falls on me. I mean, she’s just a kid. If I barely just learned this distinction, how could she possibly have understood it at the moment? No, despite being in the wrong she was most certainly not in trouble.
But now, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, I know what to tell her. And her. And him. And her. And eventually her. And maybe, with a whole lotta prayer, my kids will do a little better at this life thing than I have.
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