Monday, January 30, 2017

Control Freak

Hi, my name is Angela and I like control.  I want everything my way.  I think my way is best and I will stop at nothing to have things my way.  I am in DA...  Dictator's Anonymous.   I had to seek out help because I was ruining my kids. 

My one goal in life was to raise some really great kids.  My strategy was to control every aspect of their lives.  When they slipped out of my control the consequence was punishment, guilt trips and condemnation. 

A few years ago I started to notice how this was beginning to take a real toll on my daughter.  She had no confidence and felt like she could do nothing right.  She began to lie about little things that meant nothing.  She was plucking her eye lashes and eye brows.  My beautiful flower was wilting under the hot sun of my scrutiny.  She didn't measure up. 

I was devastated to see what I had done to my child.  I started to see how she wasn't the only who was showing signs of living with too much stress, but in all honesty I didn't know how to change the situation.  I thought I was right.  I thought being hard on them would bring about my desired results.  I started reading every parenting book I could find and there were so many conflicting theories out there.  I was really confused.  One week I would try this method and another day I would try that method.  My children were confused as well.  There was no consistency and with my moody nature it was impossible for them to predict what I would do in any given situation.

Finally, I started praying for some wisdom, because God has always answered my prayers before and in James it says, "ask for wisdom and He will give it to us liberally." 

I'm not going to say I have figured anything out or that I have become the perfect parent, but God did begin to show me a few things from His Word.  It was like he had shone a little light on all the places his Father heart was revealed to us in scripture.   I could see from His Word how different He is from me.  I could see the contrast between how He treats his children and how I treat mine. 

"The Lord is gracious, and FULL of compassion (he feels what we feel); SLOW TO ANGER, and of great mercy.  The Lord is good to all and his TENDER MERCIES are over all his works." Psalms 145:8-9

As a dictator I was none of these things.  I was often angry and cruel.  My anger was like a light switch...  but in this verse I could see that God was slow to anger and had great mercy.  Well, I knew that He had been that way with me (his child), why couldn't I be that way with my children?  There is a real answer to that question.  Fear.  Fear controlled me and I used it to control my children.   I feared that if I didn't control everything, then they would do something that would make me look bad as a parent.   Oh and tender, yeah right.  I didn't know how to be tender.  

I LOVE this definition of tender- easily moved to sympathy or compassion...  God understands that we are weak and therefore he is tender with us. 

Mercy- compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an OFFENDER, an enemy, or other person in one's power. 

IF God is tender and merciful toward us...  WHY should we be any different with our children and notice that these words are used WHEN we do something wrong or we are enemies.

Look at John 3:17 "For God did not send His son into the world to condemn the world, but that through him the world might be saved."

What does condemn mean- to express an unfavorable or adverse judgment on; INDICATE STRONG DISAPPROVAL of.

Don't get me wrong.  The Bible says that God disciplines those he loves and He will correct our behavior, but HE NEVER CONDEMNS. 

Another definition for condemn- to declare incurable.

I believe that I was declaring my children incurable.  I was speaking death into their lives.  Let me give you an example between discipline and condemnation.

This morning one of my sons whirled around in the kitchen, arms swinging wide, and knocked over a glass of orange juice.

I wanted to scream and cry and say "NOT AGAIN, WHY DO YOU ALWAYS DO THAT." and then maybe tell him his punishment was to NEVER COME IN THE KITCHEN AGAIN.  Kidding/not kidding.   That is condemnation.   That makes kids discouraged.  Discouragement is losing courage.  Losing life.  This is how a dictator would respond.

Instead, I turned away and cried inside, opened a drawer and handed him a towel to clean up his mess.  His discipline was to clean up after himself.  He felt badly enough that he had spilled the orange juice.  I didn't need to beat him down about it. 

Discipline is a word that we associate with punishment, but discipline is really training. 

Discipline - activity, exercise, or a regimen that develops or improves a skill; training.

Training our children is a must.  God trains us.  He teaches us his ways.  Sometimes the consequences for our actions or for theirs is painful and pain is a good instructor, but our treatment should always be in love and never in condemnation. 

"Or do you despise the riches of His goodness and forbearance and LONG-SUFFERING; not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?" Rom. 2:4

It is in fact the goodness of God that makes me want to do the right thing.  My nature LOVES to do the wrong thing.  I'm not going to lie.  I am not pure in heart.  I can identify strongly with the lyrics of the One Republic song "Counting Stars":

I feel something so right
Doing the wrong thing
I couldn't lie, couldn't lie, couldn't lie
Everything that kills me makes me feel alive.

I have a couple children who are just like me.  They love to do the wrong thing.   I have to remember that God's goodness and forbearance and patience with me  keep me coming back to him.  It's His mercy that makes me love him and want to follow him.  How I would benefit from dealing with my own children the way He deals with me.

Listen to what Paul says,

"If I speak in the tongues of men and angels, BUT HAVE NOT LOVE, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to move mountains, but DO NOT HAVE LOVE, I AM NOTING." I Cor 13:1-1-2

Love is patient
Love is kind
Love does not envy
Love does not boast
Love is not rude
It does not insist on it's own way
It is not irritable or resentful;

Being a parent like my heavenly Father does not come naturally to me.   I have to die to myself, to my nature.  To truly love my children I have to let go of my need to control everything.  This is not easy.  That's why it's called death...  It hurts.

I'm not an authority on anything, especially parenting, but I do have an inside track on learning about Amazing Grace...  I've done it all wrong and I've have had to learn more from mistakes than anything else, but God has always been good to me.  He's always drawn me back in his arms with tender mercy and understanding and acceptance!  That's the kind of parent I want to be.

Hello, my name is Angela and I'm letting go of the control. 

Friday, January 27, 2017

If God had Facebook.

This post is meant to be tongue in cheek... Hope it's not blasphemous, but I think it needs to be said.

I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook.  I love it because it's a fun way to connect with people.  To keep in touch with people you don't get to see much, see how their kids have grown and what is going on in everybody's life.  I like to post my own pics and sadly yes I want to see how many likes I get.  I like to rant on the homeschool page about how crazy school is.  I like to share these little posts on FB, hoping that they will encourage someone out there.   I like to laugh at memes and roll my eyes as political post that I disagree with and pump my fist with those I do agree with.   I like to share funny poop stories or crazy things my kids say.  I like to post date night pics with my boo, laughing hysterically with him cuz we tried 75 times to get the perfect selfie and people are now staring at us.  I really do love FB.

I also HATE Facebook.  I hate the way it makes me envy other people who look more glamorous than I do.  I hate seeing someone else's success and feeling like my life is less than.  Seeing a friend post pics with other friends leaves me jealous and confused.  Reading about others children's success when my kid has been struggling with learning to read and another struggles with math.  I hate seeing happy family pics, but knowing the back story and feeling sad that it's really not so happy.  I hate how those political posts from both sides just seem to divide us so much that we forget that we have more in common than not.  I feel envious when I see my friends on vacation again and I haven't had a real vacation in 13 years...  I really do hate FB sometimes. 

We put our best "face" on FB.  We take a 100 pics to get the best one.  We tell our accomplishments and achievements and relish in the applause.  I say "WE", because I very much include myself in this.  We take those date night selfies, but we don't post about that fight we had last night.  We show our kids with a trophy, but we don't tell the world that they are failing math.  We take those happy family photos, but we never share how hard we are trying to keep it all together.  It feels like we are all telling half truths, just part of the story and it's hard to remember that the happy, glamour, and achievements are only half of the story. 

I have to tell you FB does not leave me feeling very happy or full of hope, but you know what does?  The Bible.  I started thinking...  If God had a FB what would he post??? 

From the beginning God has told us the whole ugly story of his family.   His pictures don't just show the big happy family.  Chapter 3 starts out with a man, a women, and a serpent making some really bad choices.  God lets us know from the beginning that his family is far from perfect.  He's not like us who hide the fact that our kid is in jail again.  He tells the whole story and you know what, it makes me feel better about myself.  If God's children are dysfunctional and he still loves them, then I guess he really can love me too.  That gives me hope.

A few posts later on God's FB he posts a pic of a flood a rebellious, violent generation of people who were bent on nothing but wickedness.  He even says "every imagination of their heart is wickedness"...  I wouldn't be too proud of that.  I definitely wouldn't share it with the world.

Not too long into God's story line we see He's chosen this man and wants to use him to bless the world through the future generations of his family...  I'm totally thinking this guy has to be one special person, but when I read about him I'm not so impressed.  He's just an average guy and God tells mostly about his mistakes and how He (God) keeps coming to his rescue and working things out for him.  You wouldn't find that on your newsfeed today.

Abraham has some of the most dysfunctional offspring I have read about...  Brothers trying to kill brothers, sons killing a whole town of people to get revenge, brothers selling a brother into slavery and lying to their father for 20 years saying that he was killed by wild animals.  Then Judah (whom God has chosen to send the messiah through) has 2 sons that are so wicked that they are killed before they can pass on their seed...  Judah's promised seed comes through his daughter inlaw, who plays the harlot, to trick Judah into sleeping with her.  These are not the stories we would put on our FB.

I could go on and on.  There's David, the man after God's own heart, the one who committed adultery, got her pregnant, and had her husband killed.   There is Aaron the priest, who erects a golden cow for the Israelites to worship.   There is Samson the hero of Israel, who allows his lust for beautiful women to destroy him.    When I read the Bible and see the whole ugly truth my hope is restored, my joy renewed.   I'm so thankful that God is not like me...  If he were he would have left out all the bad stuff and then I would ever be striving for perfection in my own life. 

If God had a FB I think he would share the good, the bad, and the ugly.  I think he would leave me SMH at the antics of his children.  I think I would like his posts because they were real and they wouldn't make me feel bad about my life.  I would follow God's page because I would see how amazing his grace is and know that he totally gets all my problems... He's seen them before.  I would know that I don't have it all together and that my life is a mess, but so is everyone else's!!!

God doesn't have a FB, but he does have a love letter that we should get into, like and share with others.  God's word brings hope to the hopeless, strength to the weak, courage to the fearful.  God's word is the light in the darkness.  The Bible is God's FB...  like, follow, share!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

It will get better!

Every day at 2 o'clock I look around and think "not again".   The house is a mess.  Dishes piled high and every square inch of counter space is covered.  We have been doing school all day and keeping up with house work just doesn't fit in.  The floors need a good sweep and there's at least 3 loads of laundry waiting for me.  The washer and dryer are both full and there are clothes piled up on the dining room table that have to be hung, folded and put away.  There are toys in every room of the house and the kitchen table is covered in books, papers, pencils and other school paraphernalia.  A mom could get crushed under the weight of the to-do's that await. 

It's 2:30... the kitchen counters are cleaned, the dishwasher emptied and dishes reloaded, the breakfast table cleared of all the school supplies and the floors swept and now only sticky and needing a mop (another day).   The washing machine is running with another load, the dryer has been emptied and two loads of clothes have been hung, folded and put away, the dining room table is bare.  The school supplies put away, the trash taken out, the recycle box emptied, the living room straightened.  The upstairs bedrooms have been cleaned and beds made, bathrooms spot checked and  toys picked up and put away.  Mom is sitting down at the computer and drinking some hot tea. 

How much of that did I do?  I helped here and there.  I checked to make sure everything was done and that's it.  As I watched them get all of those things done I thought about how much easier my life is now with 5 children than it was with 2.  I thought about how teaching them to do chores has transformed my life.  I thought about my friends who are in the trenches right now and I wanted to offer some encouragement.  It will get better! It will get better!  I promise it will get better!

Every Sunday morning my 12 year old daughter gets 2 little brothers ready for church because she enjoys dressing them up.  I stay in my bathroom and peacefully shower, do my hair, put on make-up and dress and come out to a house full of children dressed and ready to go. 

Every night after dinner I stand at the kitchen sink and wash dishes as all 5 children clean off the table, wipe down the counters, dry the dishes and put them away.  The job gets done faster and I can relax along with the rest of the family... when we all pitch in. 

Teaching my children to do chores has been a blessing for me but it's also been a blessing for them.  Teaching them to do chores has been an effective way to teach them empathy.  I will never forget the time that my 11 year son was folding a load of towels and he said, "How is there so much laundry, I just did this yesterday."  or the times that my daughter has taken it upon herself to clean the kitchen when I have been sick and she says, "Mom, please get better quick, we can't do this without you." 

The bible says that work is "good".  We should teach our children at a young age to have a good attitude about working around the house.  We should teach them that life is not about them and we are not their servants.  It's not an easy job, but you will be glad you did.  You will feel more appreciated and you will be happier in your home and as a mother if you teach you children to work around the home. 

This post is in NO WAY trying to brag about my children or myself...  It's a plea to my mommy friends to begin now to teach your children to do chores for your sake and theirs.  It is a tremendous blessing when you look around and see all the work that they have done around the house.

So where do you start?  How young and what jobs can each age group perform? 

I will give a list of my children's daily chores according to age and the occasional chores I expect them to do when extra things need to be done, but you know what needs to be done in your home and what your children are capable of doing.  I will say that my children are much more willing to do the work with a good attitude when mommy is consistent and it's a daily thing that is just a part of the routine.

My 3 yr old- helps unload the dishwasher and put silverware and other low things that he can reach away, he puts his clothes in the hamper and takes his folded clothes upstairs to his drawers, he helps pick up his toys and put them away (he needs encouragement to get the job done).  He helps big brother clean up the bed room.  He is also helpful at putting away groceries and taking out the recycle.

My 6 yr old- unloads one of the racks of the dishwasher, helps clean off the table, dries dishes and puts them away, he puts his folded and hang up clothes away, brings his laundry basket down to wash, picks up the upstairs and puts his toys away.  His occasional chores are cleaning baseboards, the stair case.

My 8 yr old- unloads one of the rack of the dishwasher, helps clean up after dinner, puts dishes away, cleans his room, makes his bed, brings down his laundry basket/hangers, cleans the upstairs, putting away blankets and straightening pillows.  Takes out trash and recycle, unload groceries, puts away his laundry.  His occasional chores are anything mom or dad need him to do.

My 11 yr old- straightens up the downstairs, sweeps or vacuums the downstairs once or twice a week.  He is responsible for washing, drying, and putting away one load of laundry a day as well as putting away his little brothers clothes.  He helps do anything that needs to be done... trash, recycle, vacuum, dishes, laundry.  His occasional chores are to help mom or dad with whatever is asked of him.

My 12 yr old- Anything that mom needs done.  She is a little mom herself and anticipates things that need to be done.  Her job is to help me not go crazy and she is really good at that.  She helps clean the kitchen, do the laundry, get little boys dressed and ready to go places.  She makes sure that everyone else gets their chores done... because she knows that I will ask her to do it if they don't. 

The Bible says that children are a blessing from the Lord and for many years I would have argued with that.  For a long time life was hard, a struggle and I felt like I was on a sinking ship.  I did start teaching my children young to do chores, but even that was more work for me.  I never dreamed that I would reap the blessings that the Bible talked about... but it's happening.

Today as I watched them transform this house in less than 30 minutes, I knew I had to encourage my mom friends who feel like they are drowning under the weight of raising small children.  Children are a blessing from the Lord and my life is easier now with 5 children than when I had only 2.  The key is teaching them work is a part of life.  Teach them from little bitty to do small jobs and expect them to clean up after themselves.  Be consistent and make chores a daily routine.  You will not regret putting in the effort and in the end you will reap exponential rewards!!!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

With all my heart.

The things he has taught me, you can not place a price on.  This is a tribute to my Dad.  We just celebrated his 60th birthday last night.  He cried after we left for a long time, as he reflected on his life and all that 60 years have held and where his life is now.  A father of 5, grandfather to 8 his home was full of laughter and love last night.  The rowdy chaos, just a reflection of children who are comfortable and excited to be at Papaw's house and with each other.

If you are within 2 feet of my Dad you will get wrapped up in a hug and told how much you are loved.  Eyes that shed tears at the drop of a hat.  A heart that is worn on a sleeve.   What makes a man so affectionate and so vulnerable? 

From a very early age my father found out  that you have to love people while you have them.  He lost his mother at the age of 9... the first of many losses.  At the age of seventeen my father was in a accident that nearly took his life and after being electrocuted, he had to have his arm amputated.  Two years later his father died.  Around this time he met my mom and they were married and had me...  We lost my mother when I was only 1 and my father all to familiar with loss experienced another tragedy at the tender age of 21. 

Through the years many have had there opinions about how my father has lived his life, but when I think of all the heartache he has endured and can still smile and face each new day with joy, I admire him.  What would destroy most and make them cold and bitter has done the opposite for my Dad.  Now that I'm an adult I can see that every time he draws me into his arms and every time his heart pours out of his eyes and every time he says "I love you with all of my heart",  he's remembering how precious life is, how you never know when you could lose someone, and you need to tell them every single time you have a chance. 

I grew up knowing that I was deeply loved.  What a precious gift.  He has no idea how that has affected my life.  Showing affection and loving my children, a learned behavior, I picked up from my dad.

He taught me that you can get back up again.  Life can be more tragic that a person can imagine, but we can endure.  We can keep going.   We can turn tragedy into perspective...  We can decide to treat life as precious and to focus on what really matters...  the people you love. 

He taught me to turn the music up, to grab somebody and whirl them around the kitchen floor, to sing at the top your lungs and to laugh until you cry... to love with all my heart. 

I've watched him open doors, smile and talk to everyone 8 to 80, he's going to notice you.  You will be his new best friend.  You will feel like you were somebody special. 

I remember when I was in high school and my girl friends would want to come over and hang out with my Dad.  I thought how crazy, until one night my friend said, "I wish my Dad loved me like your Dad does."  In that moment I realized not every one has what I have.  Not everyone has a person in their life who loves them, the way my dad has loves me and I realized how blessed I am to have him.

Dad, thanks for teaching me how to love.  It is life's greatest gift.  A person can endure anything if they know they are truly loved by someone.  Thank you for allowing life's hardships to soften you and thank you for loving all of us with all your heart.  Thank you for making sure we all know that we are precious and loved. 

I love you with all my heart.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Just taste it!

"I DON'T WANT THAT!!!", screams the 3 year old, as he's walking away from me to go pout at the table.  I guess he chose the table in hopes that I would change my mind and give him what he wanted.  He was hungry.  It was after 3 in the afternoon and he went down for a nap without lunch.  He woke up in a mood and wanted to eat, so I pulled out the leftovers from the fridge and popped them in the microwave.  Meatballs, roast, and carrots, that only yesterday he had scarfed down and raved about how good it was.  So, naturally I made the mom mistake of thinking he would want to eat it again.  I'm committed though.  I know he hasn't had anything to eat of real nutritional value, so I have to overrule his desire for junk, with my knowledge of what is best for him.  

I tried everything to get him to eat.  I ate a few bites myself, I threatened, pleaded...  nothing worked.  We were having a standoff.  I wasn't giving in and neither was he.  My father inlaw was watching this whole thing and decided to apply his favorite saying to the situation...  "Well, hun, an old man once told me...  if you leave it there long enough they will eat."  He starts out all his profound thoughts with "Well, an old man once told me..."   I'm not sure who the old man was, but he had a lot to say about everything and often he was right.

I left the room for a minute and when I came back the little squirt was walking into the kitchen carrying his bowl of leftovers to the table, where I guess he had decided to eat "BY MYSELF".  Fine with me.  All I want you do is eat.   He ate up all that bowl and wanted another.  He decided this food was awesome and afterward was again his charming little self. 

As usual it's in that little situation that the Lord decides to use my stubborn 3 yr old to teach me something about myself.  I hunger for the things of this world.  I want ___________.  It really doesn't matter what you put in that blank.  I just want.   My Father knows what I need, but I am stubborn, I keep going after the things that I want, but do not fill me up. 

"So He humbled you, ALLOWED you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you to know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord." Deuteronomy 8:3

God allows us to hunger.  Then he feeds us what we need.  

"When you have eaten and are FULL, THEN you will bless the Lord your God for the good land which He has given you." vs 10

God led the children of Israel out of Egypt and into the wilderness.  They suffered hunger and wanted to go back to Egypt.  To the land of bondage.  They longed for all the plentiful food that they were accustomed to, but God was trying to teach them to hunger for more than food.  He wanted them to see that He could provide so much better for them, but they didn't even know what to hunger for.  He allowed them to hunger so he could feed them and satisfy them.

"O, taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed (happy) is the man that trust in Him." Psalms 34:8

"You will show me the path of life: IN YOUR PRESENCE is the fullness of joy, at your right hand are pleasures evermore." Psalms 16:11

"Who satisfies your mouth with GOOD things; so that your youth will be renewed like the eagles." Psalms 103:5

There have been times in my life when I wanted something so bad and the Lord withheld that thing from me.  I pouted, begged and pleaded and when those things didn't work, I stalked away from God and ignored all that he offered in place of the things I wanted.  I craved the junk of life, but God had what would truly satisfy me... or I should say He is Himself all that will ever satisfy me. 

He allowed me to hunger, but always held out his hand, and when I was hungry enough to come back to Him, he would feed me.  He feeds me and I realize those other things I was longing for could never satisfy me.

This is a cycle that repeats more than I care to admit.  Like my 3 yr old wants cookies, chips and candy.  I want.  Like my 3 yr old doesn't know the difference between what he wants and what he needs.  I want and really could care less about what I need.  I easily forget. 

We can hungry for all kinds of things.  Sometimes those things are good things.  I have friends who have desired to have a child and not been able too.  Single friends who have desired marriage and remained single.  Those unmet desires may be the very thing that God is using to draw a broken heart to him and the place that God wants to feed a hungry soul.  Sometimes it's a lonely marriage and the desire for romance.  You may be suffering financial trouble or a wayward child.  If God would only give you want you wanted you could be happy. 

I know how you feel.  When you want something so bad it's hard to see how anything other than that thing could be the answer.  How could it be true that God could satisfy all your needs?  How could an invisible God fill you?  Go back to Psalms 34:8 "Taste and see." 

Just like the little boy who snuck over and took a bite from that bowl and found out how good it was that he took the whole thing and devoured it.  Like the little boy who realized that he wanted more and finished off a second bowl.  Afterwards he walked away satisfied and no longer wanted the junk food he had been asking for. 

How do we taste and see.  Look at what Jesus said.

"Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, being tempted for forty days by the devil.  And in those days He ate nothing, and afterward, when he was hungry.  The devil said, 'If you are the Son of God command these stones to become bread.' But Jesus answered him, saying, 'It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, BUT by every word of God."  Luke 4:1-4

Jesus was hungry, but he knew that looking for food anywhere else but God wasn't what he needed.  Jesus answer to earthly hunger was the Word of God.  The Word (the Bible) is where God speaks to us and gives us manna from heaven, daily bread.  When we read his word, sing his word and meditate on his word, he begins to fill up the empty places and we lose our taste for the things of the world. 

Like Jesus, when we fill up daily with the Holy Spirit and feed ourselves from the Word, we are able to face our temptations and overcome.  Overcome depression, anxiety, hunger, thirst and even attacks from the enemy.  In Him we will find all that we need.  Taste and See today. 

Saturday, January 7, 2017

It's my turn.

"He had a lot of turns already, it's my turn.", screams the three year old voice, that I hear before I even see him.  He's running in my room to tell me he's been wronged.  They were supposed to take turns watching YouTube videos on my phone, but big brother had taken over and little brother felt wronged.  He came looking to me for justice.  Big brother has a different take on the situation...  He was holding the phone so they could both see and picking videos he thought they would both like.  He didn't see that he had done anything wrong and really he's right, but little brother is right too. 

This reminds me of a similar situation I'm working through in my own life.  I see it one way and the other person in my life sees the situation totally differently.   How could we both be right?  How could we both be wrong?

There is no reasoning with the 3 year old.  He can't see how things could actually work out better if he lets his big brother hold the phone.  He just wants what he wants.  There is no amount of common sense that you can talk into a 3 yr old, who's got their mind made up.  He throws himself down in the floor and has a fit when  I won't force his big brother to give up the phone mid-video.  He thinks me cruel and unjust.

I do the same thing.  Whether it's with my husband or a friend, all I see is my side and from where I'm pouting... I'm right.  I'm right and they are wrong.  The whole situation would be resolved if they could just see things the way I do.  

The thing is I understand why I see things my way.  Like my 3 yr old I feel very justified in my position.  It is my turn to hold the phone.  We are supposed to take turns.  That's all there is to it.  But from the other person perspective when the 3 yr old holds the phone he holds it in a way that no one else can see the screen.  So, to his practical minded older brother it's an easy fix, he will hold the phone and they can both see,  but his solution violates the fairness of taking turns. 

The older brother is no saint in this situation...  he's just coming up with a solution that works best for him and really that's all that matters.  I get him too.   He just wants to watch a video or 10.  He really could care less whether little bro watches with him or not.  In fact it would be easier if his little brother found something else to do, then he could have the phone all to himself.  If someone else is going to cause drama in my life I would rather just go on without them.  Looking at the situation from their point of view is not my top priority.

Sadly, with this kind of conflict resolution I can look behind me and see many broken relationships.  There will be a point in every relationship where misunderstanding and lack of communication cause tension.  We are all unique and we see the world from very different perspectives.  I feel justified about the way I think or I wouldn't think that way, but so does the other person in my life.  I see life through  the lens of my experiences, but my experience may be a very different one from the friend I'm struggling to understand. 

What do we do when we can't seem to understand.  When we are tempted to walk away from this person because our differences make it seem impossible to resolve a situation?   We do what God does with us. 

We extend grace.  The word grace means "unmerited favor".  We give favor.  This takes humility on our parts. 

Humility - modest opinion or estimate of one's own importance, rank, etc.

We humble ourselves, lower our opinion of ourselves.  We can do this...  Christ was our example.

"But made himself of no reputation and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of man: and being found in the fashion of a man, HE HUMBLED HIMSELF, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." Phil 2:7-8

Even though He was God, he humbled himself out of LOVE for us.  He proved his love for us in that while we were yet sinners he died for us.  The Righteous One for the wrong ones.

We humble ourselves and give grace. 

I love what David says in Psalms 103:14 "For he knows our frame; and he remembers that we are just dust." 

He knows means- He understands our constitution...  and because he understands he gives grace.  In our relationships a little understanding would go a long way.  If we could look from the other person's perspective.  If we would lower ourselves like Jesus did and repair the relationship at any cost to our own selves then we would truly be in the right. 

When I truly love someone above myself I will look for ways to understand where they are coming from.  I won't hold on to being right at the expense of the relationship.  I will humble myself and try to see the situation from their perspective and if I can't do that I will show them grace (favor) just because I love them...  Like God the Father showed me favor by giving His Son as a ransom for my life.  No personal price was too great for God to pay in order to restore a right relationship with me.  How could I then withhold grace and mercy from those I claim to love?

PS....  I'm not there yet...  probably never will be.  It's a process I have to work through.  Sometimes it takes a very long time for me to get there, but I know it's the right way!