Monday, May 14, 2007

Plank removal

This morning our 13-year-old daughter didn’t want to go to school.

“I don’t feel good,” she moaned.

I felt my blood pressure rising. You felt great all weekend, got up on time, took a shower - ate breakfast, for goodness sake - and are completely ready for school. Don’t get me started.

“You are going to school today. There are only two weeks left, and you can do it.”

I went on to helping the others get ready for the day, and she disappeared. Twenty minutes later I went into my room, where she was lying in a heap, asleep under my covers.

"You need to get up and get ready for school," I said curtly.

Her defensiveness was palpable. “Mom, why don’t you feel sorry for me? Dad is always the one who feels sorry for us when we don’t feel good enough to go to school.”

I mustered all the matter-of-factness that I could, but it was hard to hide my irritation. “Because I’m a nurse, and the fact that you are arguing about someone feeling sorry for you tells me that you are feeling good enough to go to school.”

I walked briskly out of the room.

My husband Dennis walked by at this point and whispered to me, “Don’t let her get you angry!”

Who me, angry? I am not angry; I’m just stating the facts.

But I was angry. I’m not sure why, except that there are 8 ½ days left of school. Get through those, and then you can sleep all you want! And besides, I have a lot to do today. I can’t just stop what I'm doing and cater to someone who just wants to lie around all day. Come on.

I had to walk away from her. I knew the conversation was heading south, and I didn’t trust myself. She was obviously not ill (I know what ill is). But why couldn’t I talk to her about why she didn’t want to go to school without it making me mad?

Just then, I walked into my bathroom and saw a verse that’s been on my mirror for over a year. It’s been there so long, it’s rumpled, toothpaste-stained and fading. But there it was (actually the whole chapter is there):

...put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another...

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

Colossians 3:12-13, 16-17

At that moment I couldn’t think of one single word of Christ, and if it were there, it certainly wasn’t dwelling in me richly. It had no grace. And wisdom? Kindness? Pshaw. The only song going on in my heart was, “You ain’t nothin’ but a hound-dog, cryin’ all the time!”

But I knew my attitude was not right. I was convicted.

A few minutes later, I went to her in my nicest, most compassionate tone, and asked her about several projects that she needed to turn in this week. “If you stay home, what are you going to do about those?”

There was some unintelligible reply. This isn’t working, I thought. I left her again.

It was just about time to leave for school, and there she was, standing chatting non-chalantly with Dennis about something. I managed to remain calm. “You’d better get your stuff ready for school.”

“Am I going?” she asked, incredulously. But instead of arguing with me, she turned and started packing her backpack.

I wasn’t mad anymore. Amazingly, she wasn’t defensive with me either. As I gave her a goodbye hug, she went out the door, resigned, but not angry.

Suddenly I thought of a word of Christ. I felt a sting of tears. I think it was from the huge plank that was ripped from my eyes this morning.

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.

Matthew 7:3-5

I think His word has a better chance of dwelling in me richly today. Maybe I can say a few words and do a few deeds in His name, too.

8 comments:

Andrea said...

How I can relate. And what wonderful verses to apply to the situation. I love the choice you made, Katherine. I'm also glad she went to school (for your sake!!:)

Lori said...

Katherine, thanks for sharing this today. It helps me to be reminded that I'm not the only mother who has "attitude problems" sometimes. And where to go to find the antitode, too.

I appreciate your openness and honesty.

Lori said...

Or antidote. Whichever. ;)

Susanne said...

Oh ouch. I think my own plank just stuck out! My morning went along the 12 1/2 year old hormonal, stayed up too late, now I'm totally cranky lines. I should have read this post very early this morning before I responded with a "Your bedtime is being moved earlier" through my gritted teeth comment.

Beckyb said...

I am convinced you were at my house this morning and knew I needed to hear this - thanks for the gentle reminder!!

Elise said...

Oh, the word dwelling in me richly...I want that. I so want that.
Thank you for sharing this, Katherine. As always, your honesty touches and convicts, but somehow makes that conviction easier to swallow.

Qtpies7 said...

OH my gosh, ouch! OUch!
Those verses taped all over our house have come to convict me, too, at times.

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