Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Treadmills and Broken Toys.

Training your son to 'turn the other cheek' in a culture where the 'boys will be boys' philosophy reigns is more than difficult. Like most boys, my boys are active wiggly noise makers. I love them for that. From day one with each of my children, my goal has been to teach them biblical wisdom rather than merge them into the pop cultural trend of the moment. For my daughter this is surprisingly gender equalizing, thanks to my good friend Paul, the apostle. "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, we are all one in Christ Jesus." Galatians 3:28

For my sons, this is a wee bit more difficult.

I can't tell you which plays into gender roles more, nurture or nature. We could debate that all year, I suppose. What I can express to you, from my experience, is that to some degree both nurture and nature create who our children are and become. A fact that should wake parents up any day of the week.

My experience with my eldest son has been quite educational to say the least. He is the proverbial bull in the china cabinet... but with a heart that breaks when he discovers his guilt in breaking the china. He is a jewel, indeed. He is all boy, as they say, without a doubt! But with the addition of a rare tenderness and compassion that keeps him from walking away from a hurting friend on the playground. In our house we believe that self-control is paramount and that there is no excuse for hurting another person whether in play or retaliation hence the 'turn the other cheek' philosophy.

The last few weeks we've worked on training him to play gently with his toys rather than launch them across the house for use as artillery especially when our pug dog is in close proximity. He's doing better and better with this. We made a deal the other day that if I found another broken toy, he would lose that toy for good to someone else or to the trash can. He agreed to this and vowed to do a better job of being careful and respectful of his things.

Tonight as I tucked him into bed I noticed two toys broken on the floor. I asked him about it, and he knew where the conversation was heading. He confessed to throwing them and then began to sob. Between gasps for breath as he dramatically waved good-bye to a trick-track robot he said, "Mommy! My heart wants to be good! My heart is so good! My body, though. It messed up! It's bad, Mommy, but my heart is good! Really it is!" I stopped in my tracks.

My sweet son's middle name is Paul. Immediately, it was my good friend Paul, the apostle, that came to my mind again.

"I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate." Romans 7:15
"For I know nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing." Romans 7:18 
I run. Every morning I run on a treadmill. I hate it, but I need to do it. I know it is good for me. Those endorphins give me energy and mood boost, and so I begrudgingly do it. This very morning as I sweat through the first half of mile 2, I just stopped. I gave up. While gasping for air and dragging myself over to my water bottle, I started telling myself how stupid it is to run on a treadmill. You never get anywhere (especially when you keep stopping before finishing your two mile goal). Suddenly, I began thinking about my life. I began to dwell on where I wanted to be by now.

I wanted to run a 5 K. Clearly, I'm not ready.
I wanted to weigh 20 pounds less at this age. Again, clearly, not happening.
I wanted to be kinder to my husband.
I wanted to publish a book.
I wanted to have a regular prayer life.
I wanted to finally organize my closet.
I wanted to have read through the Bible X amount of times...by now.

The list goes on and on. I think our Savior sums it up nicely for us when he said, "The spirit is indeed willing, but the flesh is weak." Matthew 26:41.

I climbed up to the top bunk to hug away my son's frustration and tears tonight. We talked about Paul. We talked about how hard it is to make good choices when everything around us tells us otherwise. I confessed to him that I mess up everyday. (He didn't seem as surprised at my fallibleness, or imperfection, as I had expected. I guess my kids notice more than I thought.) We prayed together that God give us the strength to try even when it seems we are not getting anywhere.

My good friend Paul, also apparently frustrated by this treadmill life, doesn't leave us alone on our worn conveyor belts hurdling our broken toys. He reveals that there is an end in sight. Praise God!
"There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of LIFE  has set your FREE from the law of sin and death." Romans 8:1
Friends, bad days come. Horrible decisions happen. The attempt to try is what we cannot give up. We may lose battle after battle after horrifying battle, but our Savior has won the war. When we couldn't, he did, and I'm so very thankful we can share in the victory.

"..in all these things we are more than conquerors through HIM who loved us." Romans 8:37


  1. Excellent, Caryn! Life is filled with treadmills and brokenness. Thanks for reminding us of the ultimate.


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