The Tiny Tornado

This weekend I had one of those parenting days where, at the end of the day, I just sat there in complete shock by the imbalance of energy between my children and myself.

It’s unbelievable.

Now, I know their little minds are not consumed with things like staying alive, what we will eat, and driving a car while also being a referee.  But, come on – where is this energy source and how can I tap it?  Can I get an Amen?

My son shoots out of the bed like a cannon every Saturday morning at 6:30.  I get the not-so-subtle hint that he’s hungry and he may starve to death before I get up.

My daughter, sleeps in till about 8 which, for about an hour and a half, makes her my favorite.  But don’t be fooled by her sleep schedule, long locks, blue eyes and princess dress.  She comes out of the gate with an attitude that won’t quit.  She’s three and incapable of reason.  My current motto with her is “please, everyone don’t anger it”.  I mean I’m the Mama and I’ll handle it but please, for the love of all things holy, don’t anger it!!!

Here’s a little recap of the things that angered it recently…

  • Her muffin was placed in a green bowl
  • Her milk tasted funny (no, it wasn’t bad or different)
  • Her banana broke in half
  • Her shirt is weird
  • She has to take a bath
  • She has to get out of the bath
  • Her towel is ugly (they’re all the same)
  • Her feet are wet
  • There are price tags on all the clothes at Old Navy and I won’t let her pull them off.  (side note:  I’ve always wondered what happened to price tags when you get to the register and they’re missing.  The answer is 3-year-olds)
  • Crust on her sandwhich
  • Her grapes are green
  • Her cup is purple
  • the list could go on and on

And, while her search for independence is certainly entertaining, it’s also exhausting.

The thing I’ve noticed, however, in watching this tiny tornado is her behavior is pretty much like my Facebook feed.

While our behavior is not about crust on a sandwich, we engage in tiny tornado topics all the time.  We take a topic that may very well be important to us, just as my daughters grape preference is important to her, and we allow ourselves to become so consumed that our behavior becomes juvenile and thus the topic begins to spin out of control.

The problem here is not the topic, but the reaction.  And, right or wrong, the reaction seems to always have a common theme.  Go back and look at my daughters list of grievances.  What’s her focus?  You got it….her!

Now, I’ll give her a pass, she’s three.  She’s allowed to work out this independence thing with a little selfishness.  But come on, adults…we can do better than this.

So, what’s the problem?  Why do we act this way?

As I’ve pondered these questions and looked back at the times I’ve clearly missed the mark.  I just keep thinking about love.

In my last blog post, Be the Good, Neighbor. , I talked about how I so strongly felt a sense of “love your neighbor” after the Las Vegas tragedy.  But, more and more, I feel like we may not even know what that means.

We’ve become a society of selfish, entitled people who don’t know how to love.  We’re ruining our influence with bad behavior.

You may not agree with that last statement but just think about it.  When was the last time someone changed your mind by acting like a child?

I’m not just speaking to Christians here – this is for everyone, but, let me just say, if you, like me, call yourself a Christian, lean in. This is important.

Jesus very clearly states in John 13:35 that “this is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples – when they see the love you have for each other”.

Ouch!  That hurts a little.  I kinda wish other things counted too!

So, how do we love?  What is love?

The dictionary states that love means “an intense feeling of deep affection”.  I think that’s true, but what does it really mean to love.

If you’ve ever been to a Christian wedding you should know this.  I’d be willing to bet that 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 is quoted about half the time.  But, before we dive into what it means to love, I want to show you the opposite of love, according to these verses, and see if you notice parallels with our society.  Let’s just turn these verses around a bit.

We are not patient or kind.  We want what other’s have.  We brag and strut.  We are arrogant and have swelled heads.  We force our agendas or ourselves on others.  We are rude and self-seeking.  We anger easily and keep score.  We delight when other’s fail and place no importance on truth.  We don’t protect others, we don’t trust others.  We’ve lost hope and given up.

Sound familiar?

No wonder relationships struggle.

Now, I don’t mean that we don’t love others, because we surely do; but y’all the focus of love cannot be ourselves or it ceases to be love.  Christian or not, you can’t get away from this truth.  Love, true love, is not about you!

So let’s look at what love is….

“Love is patient and kind.  It cares more for others than for self.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered.  It keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  LOVE NEVER FAILS” (1 Corinthians 13: 4-8 – NIV, The Message).

What if we used these principles in our lives?  What if we loved our spouse this way?  What if we loved our children this way?  What if we loved our neighbor this way?  How different would our world be?  What if we approached every situation with love for others before ourselves?

Love your neighbor takes on a whole new meaning, right?

Would those tiny tornados even exist?

Disagreements approached with love – can you imagine?  Maybe protests would remain peaceful?  Maybe problems would be solved and hurt feelings spared?  Maybe two people on opposite sides could actually come together and work things out?  Ah, hem…

Maybe we could broaden our influence and reach more people?  Maybe, just maybe, if we learned how to love…

So, as I sit here tonight, surrounded by the toys, crayons, hair bows, and purple grapes left lying around by my tiny tornado, I can’t help but think about the tiny tornados I could have avoided with love.  The situations I handled poorly and approached with selfish behavior.  The argument with my husband, the lack of patience with my children, or the disagreement with that person on social media.  Even if I didn’t comment, did I let it ruin my day?  What if I slowed that tornado down and, if nothing else, maybe just held my tongue?  What if I believed that love never fails?

We can change the world.  We change our world.  With love.

~Mary Ann

 

 

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