There was a time, when my children were in their teens, that I disliked them.
I disliked their arrogance.
I disliked their entitlement.
I disliked their work ethic.
I disliked how they ‘took advantage of me’.
I loved them, but I disliked a lot about them.
Being a homeschooling family meant that I was with them almost 24/7, so there were lots of opportunities to be upset with them. My bad character reacted negatively with their teenage stuff and like the woman in proverbs, “I tore my house down with my own hands.” Proverbs 14: 1
I thank God that he let me realize my response to their behavior was creating more problems than their attitudes. Because of that I prayed and prayed for help. And God gave it in a very strange way. He inspired me to ‘serve’ them. “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.” Galatians 5:13
So, I literally started serving them. When they irritated me, I would serve them their food at the next meal. Since our habit was eating buffet style, they found it strange.
“Why are you serving my food? ”
“Oh for no reason, I just thought I would serve you and make you happy.”
Dishing up their food became therapy for my irritable spirit. I first started offering their food to them hiding a resentful heart, but as I continued acting out this principle, my feelings changed. Soon the things that had bothered me, didn’t. I actually served them their plates in love.
It is strange how doing something because the bible says so changes us. Choosing to do them good strengthened a spiritual muscle that I was able to exercise when they were doing things that vexed me.
After a while, I confessed my tactic. They were surprised.
“All those times you served our food, you were actually frustrated with us?”
“Yes, but God changed my heart and now I serve you just because I want to.”
So all these years later, sometimes I like to serve my adult children their plates of food. When I do, they grin and ask, “Are we irritating you?” I am so grateful the Lord took a problem I could not solve and changed it into a happy memory.
“You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness.” Psalm 30:11