Having been a son my whole life (after being born at such an early age), you might think that I would be an expert on the subject by now.
Turns out that's not really the case... at least for the dealing with the early years.
It should go without saying that boys are different from girls in a lot of ways (I'm not going into most of the differences - this isn't THAT kind of blog). But somehow I'm still surprised by certain things my son does that his older sisters didn't.
Two of these things are 1) a strong desire to basically try to destroy just about anything at least once and 2) an inability to sit still for more than about 7.5 seconds.
This came home in a very clear way when he had to take a steroid medication recently. The doctor said that it could "increase his activity level a little, so don't give it to him right before bed." Had I been more in tune with things at the moment here's what I should of heard, "This will be like throwing gasoline on a fire. A really big fire."
Wow. Within 30 minutes of the 1st dose, we had a small human buzz saw in our living room. His sisters, who are used to him trying to use them as jungle gyms, practice targets for lightsabers, and good training for Nerf guns, were exposed to a new level of terror. I was fearful for my own well being a few times (I did not escape unscathed...)
This lasted for at least an hour before subsiding to a more manageable level of mayhem. The next dose (only one a day Thank God!) was a little less dramatic, but maybe because most everyone cleared the area when they heard it was medicine time.
But these meds, and steroids in general, list side effects that can include "anger and frustration". What does that mean? It means that coming down from the brightly burning energetic phase leads into a slow, smoldering fuse that can flash into life and ignite amplified emotions.
This means that, after the immediate danger of the whirling dervish of 3 year old terror has subsided, we have a tantrum time bomb waiting to go off at the first utterance of the words "No" or "Time for bed."
I tell you all of this not to try to garner sympathy or show you just how much better you parenting skills are than my own (you are welcome). But instead, I wanted to say that I realized two things out of this situation this week. The first is that I'm sure I probably owe my parents some deep apologies for the ways I acted and the things I did over the years that I didn't even realize were "bad".
The second thing is that I realized that, regardless of how old we are, most of us have the ability to be an amp'ed up 3 year old. Not necessarily on the activity level or with the wanton destruction of physical items but more at the root level - we want what we want, we want it now, and we deserve to have it or be able to do it when we want and how we want.
Many of us restrain acting on this, at least publicly, because of decorum, laws, reputation, etc. But that is just training ourselves to act a certain way or play a part. We haven't done anything about the real issue - our hearts.
In Proverbs chapter 4, King Solomon is giving advice to his children. He speaks often of the importance of seeking (and gaining wisdom) and then, down in verse 23 he hits on the thing I have found to be most important:
Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. (Proverbs 4:23, NLT)
In other words, it really matters what's under the surface (in your heart) and not just your public actions. As Jesus said in the Gospel of Luke:
A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart. (Luke 6:45, NLT)
We must pay attention to the things within us, understand where they come from, and ultimately deal with them. It ain't easy (or maybe even possible) to do it on your own. We just aren't made that way. As hard as it would be for my young son to do it, even adults can't often do it because the issues and causes are so deeply rooted in the human existence.
But there is hope and help, in my personal experience. I've been learning, and still am learning, to look to God to help me. By understanding His love for me and what He wants for me (not just from me), I better understand that there is something better. To quite the Lord speaking through Ezekiel:
And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. (Ezekiel 36:26, NLT)
It's not about following some moral code or set of rules to show that I'm good, or even good enough. It's about reacting to the love that God has for me and accepting Him and that what He has for me is greater. This leads to a change of heart and a desire to follow - instead of a reluctant outward adherence to a set of laws.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on matters of the heart as well as any stories you have about God changing a heart (yours or someone else's). I'm also open to any questions on the matter as long as you understand that I'm not a pastor or Bible scholar...
From matters of the heart to matters of the waistline....
The scale told me this today
Another pound. It feels good to have 2 weeks of forward progress. I'm looking to make it more....
Photo credit to The U.S. National Archives on flickr.com.