Monday, February 24, 2014

A Clean Dresser, A Broken Toilet, Lessons Learned

Sometimes life is great and we move along on cruise control without thinking about the curvy road that we are travelling.  Sometimes those curves jump out at us, cause us to step on the breaks and pay attention to the road.  Life is a learning process.  That is why we came here.  We needed to learn.  We needed to show our Heavenly Father that we could make good choices and follow Him even when it was hard, even when the curves were sharp, the deer were out and the fog had settled in.  Lessons come in all shapes and sizes and they do not discriminate!  This last week we have learned some lessons.

One child was asked to clean off her dresser and shelves so that they looked nice and neat.  She informed me that she didn't want to.  This was after she had informed me that she didn't want to do the dishes, clean her room, walk the dogs or anything else for that matter!  So I grabbed a bag and Michael and away we went.  I cleaned off her dresser, her shelves and her floor.  It all fit very nicely into a garbage bag.  Of course she was upset and crying at me to stop.  I told her that I was just helping her.  She did not want to do it so I did it for her.  That didn't go over well :)  I told her when she was ready to calm down and listen, I would let her know what she needed to do to get her things back.  Well, the day came and went and she never asked.  She did ask for her things back and she did ask for a cookie since her room was clean (that was the bribe for the day).  I told her she didn't get her things back until she earned them (she didn't want to know how to do that) and that she didn't get a cookie because I was the one who cleaned her room! 

Now, some of you may think this is harsh and for some kids it would be.  However, for this particular child, it is not!  This particular child likes to push limits, talk back, and argue.  She has been warned of consequences for such actions (garbage bag full of belongings) and knew that if she continued to refuse this is what would happen. 

This brought several lessons.  One:  Obedience allows you to keep your stuff! Two: Mom will follow through!  (For mom make sure the consequences you set in place you will be able to follow through with.)  Three:  It requires humility to get things back on track.  Once she has calmed down, she knows what she has done is wrong.  She usually becomes very helpful (her way of saying sorry) and humble as she asks what she needs to do.

Lesson for me?  How many times do I make the same mistake over and over again just like she does?  How many times do I get mad at myself and say I will never do that again and then the next thing you know, there I am - doing it?  All.The.Time.  How many times do I have to humble myself, ask for forgiveness and then ask what I need to do to make things right?  How many times does my Heavenly Father forgive me and help me to get back on track?  Every time.  His love is unconditional.  His patience is never ending.  I constantly have a bag of stuff that He has had to come and clean off my dresser because I refuse to do it.  Maybe I'm tired or maybe it's not fair or maybe some one made me mad or maybe I just don't want to do it!  The reason doesn't really matter. It all leads to the same consequence - cleaning. 

Another child was innocently playing hide-and-seek in the school.  We were there for a basketball game.  The kids who weren't playing ball were out in the lunchroom playing.  We checked on them several times and all seemed ok.  I did not know there was an intense game of hide-and-seek going on! This child decided to hide in the bathroom.  Well, there aren't many hiding places in there.  He decided on a stall but he didn't want anyone to see his feet underneath the door so he stood on the toilet seat.  Well, that was slippery and he was afraid his feet would fall in so he stood on the back of the toilet.  Problem solved and he had en excellent hiding place!  Then the back of the toilet cracked and a chunk fell off one of the corners (his words).  As I said earlier, I had no clue all of this was going on.  The game ended, we left and nothing was ever said.

That night before he went to bed he asked if he could talk to me.  My first thought?  Now what?!  First thing out of his mouth - How much does a new toilet cost?  Huh?!  He took a deep breath and told us the story.  Now for this particular child to do this was HUGE!  He does not like to get in trouble and he has been known to tell a lie or two (or not say anything at all) to try to get out of trouble.  So the fact that he came to me with no prompting and told me when no one would have ever known it was him was big stuff.  While I was upset over the broken toilet, I was very proud of him for stepping up and letting us know.  We told him he would have to tell the principal what he did and that he (if required) would have to use his money to get a new lid for the back.  He talked to the principal this morning and he is waiting word on what his exact consequence will be.

Lessons learned?  One:  Rules have to be kept even during off hours.  Just because school was not in session didn't mean that the rules were void.  We teach our kids it is the same with church.  Even if we are there for Wednesday night activities, it is still a church and we have to behave respectfully and reverently.  Two:  You feel much better when you tell the truth.  It was hard for him to come out and say it but I could see the relief on his face when he was done and he felt so much better.  Three:  You don't get in as much trouble if you tell the truth!  There are still consequences of course, but they are different.  Because he told the truth, we were able to praise and thank him for that.  Before, he would  be in trouble for the action and then even more trouble for the lie.

Lesson for me?  I actually learned several things.  One:  My kids are listening :)  Some days I wonder and I worry.  Am I doing a good enough job?  Are they understanding and see the importance of what we are saying?  Are things really sinking in?  Times like this let me know that they are and it gives me hope that they will continue making good choices.  Two: Softness.  I was frustrated with the fact that he broke the toilet, but using softness helped the situation be better.  If I would have yelled and gotten mad, he would have gone to bed feeling worse and it would not have helped him see that honesty really is best.  He would have regretted saying anything and then next time he wouldn't have.  But using softness and thanking him for telling me lifted him and it lifted me too.  Three:  Forgive and Forget.  After he told me, we let it go.  He knew his consequence would come from the school.  We did not keep reminding him of his mistake and rubbing it in his face. That never does any good.

Heavenly Father, through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, has given us the wonderful gift of repentance.  We all make mistakes.  There have been many times that I have had to ask Heavenly Father if I could talk to Him before I went to bed.  There have been many times that I have had to ask Him "How much does a toilet cost?"  Repentance allows me to put my mistakes behind me, to forgive myself and others and to forget - not forget the lesson learned, but let the mistake go and not allow it to be a part of me anymore.  Heavenly Father also forgives and forgets.  When we repent, our slates are wiped clean and He remembers no more. 

At school, some of the teachers use colors for warnings for the kids.  Green means you are doing really good, yellow means you have had a rough moment or two, red means you haven't changed your behavior and orange means you are out of chances.  The result is loss of privileges.  However, every day when you come in, you get to start all over on green.  No matter how bad the day before was, you get all your colors back and you get to start the day out good.  Repentance allows us to get all our colors back and start out on the green again.  It is such a blessing to know that Heavenly Father loves us so much that He sent His Son to sacrifice for us to allow us this gift.  It is such a blessing to know that Jesus Christ was willing to come and sacrifice for us so that we could have this gift. 

We are all going to need our dressers cleaned off and we are all going to break a toilet every now and then.  How grateful I am to know that I can learn, humble myself, repent, and be forgiven.  That I can get my stuff back, fix that broken toilet and start a new day with my green card showing!  I hope that I can lay off my cruise control a little more and be ready when the curves are sharp, the deer are out and the fog thickens.  While the lessons we have aren't always pleasant, I am grateful for what they teach me and how they help me grow.  I hope that through them, I can become a better person and with each passing day become more like my Savior.

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