We said goodnight to some of the girls and watched them disappear up the stairs. Minutes later we hear loud stomping on the stairs and an angry voice asking, “Mom and Dad will you please tell Torie to be quiet! I’m trying to have my Bible reading.”
Torie and Charis share a room. Torie’s a night owl while Charis tends to be the early bird. Torie likes to spread herself and her stuff all over the room and Charis likes everything to be neat and orderly. Not the best combination in a small space; I know, I know.
On this particular night, Charis came down complaining. I immediately thought of a verse in Proverbs. No, not Proverbs 3:20, “any fool will quarrel.” Ok, that verse may have zipped through my mind (along with a few others), but the one I latched on to was Proverbs 18:17. “The first to plead his case seems just, until another comes and examines him.”
This verse offers amazing wisdom to parents. What parent doesn’t want to jump up and defend their child when you hear their tale of woe? I can’t tell you how many times (And you aren’t allowed to ask my kids; their record keeping is far better than mine on this subject.)…Really, I can’t tell you how many times I have jumped in to a situation only to find out that my lovely child failed to mention a few important details. I’m left apologizing for the injustice I brought to the situation and my wrongful assumptions.
But this night was different. This time I remembered the verse before I acted. (An important step in the recovery plan for those suffering with the tendency to jump to conclusions.)
So in my great, new-found wisdom I asked, “What is Torie doing that’s making you upset?”
From upstairs, I hear Torie answer, “I’m reading my Bible, too.”
This is not the answer I am expecting.
As I’m mulling this over in my head, Charis says, “Yeah, she’s reading from her Bible, out loud.” I’m formulating an answer along the lines of “ask her to read to herself” thinking that she just doesn’t realize she’s frustrating her sister. Then Charis adds (as she rolls her eyes), “Yeah, she’s reading her Bible. She flips a page and says, ‘Genesis 1:1 In the beginning….’ then she flips a few more pages and reads a random verse or random words. Sometimes she just flips the pages and reads the title of the book.”
I hear snickering upstairs and Torie replies innocently, “What?” (*** FYI, when Torie says “What?” or “Who me?” with a sweet and innocent sounding voice, she’s usually guilty of something!***) I’m just trying to read…sort of.”
Her reading went something like this, “In the beginning (pause for dramatic effect and then loudly says) GENESIS… (another pause) … God said … (pause) … EXODUS … LEVITICUS … (longer pause designed to build a false hope that Torie was finished “reading”)… Consecrate…build…NUMBERS…” On and on it went with Charis joining in the fun (a fact she failed to mention in her complaint).
I couldn’t help but laugh as the girls demonstrated Torie’s unique reading style.
After we said goodnight, for the second time, I began thinking how different the evening could have been. I was tired. I was ready for my time with David and it frustrated me that they were arguing over something so petty. I wanted to “snap” and have the problem resolved. (And when mama snaps, life goes downhill for everyone nearby. It is like a bomb exploding.) If I had followed my natural inclinations, there would be one less funny family story to laugh about and there would have been two frustrated teenagers.
All these thoughts led me to think of one other verse, one of my favorites. Proverbs 14:1 says, “The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish tears it down with her own hands.” Too many times, I have been responsible for destruction in my own home. (Oh yeah, I admit it. The bomb has gone off and left everyone diving for cover.) My relationship with my family reveals my widespread selfishness. Too many times, I have punished when I should have discipled. I handed out judgement without knowledge of the facts. I have not listened to the heart needs of my family. My own hands tear down the peace that should cover my home.
The good news is that I am learning to parent outside of what comes naturally. I am growing. I am slowly becoming the woman who builds. Building requires strength, patience, and an investment of time. I am thankful for all of the women in my life who are examples of builders at home and unNatural parenting. These are women powered not by their own whims or culture but powered by God’s strength and their homes are built using His plans. And, in case you’re wondering, He’s an awesome architect!