I remember it like it was yesterday.
As a little girl, I was told by my father to let him handle something with the adults. He instructed me to keep quiet... Not lie, just keep quiet. You see, we were attending a church camp for the week. After getting there, my father decided that we could not stay. There were reasons, but that I won't include in this story. In any case, Dad told my brother and I that IF we let him do the talking to the camp director, and we kept quiet, then we would leave the camp and he would take us to the zoo the next day since he felt badly about leaving camp early. What child doesn't want to stay at church camp? I wasn't happy about not staying.
We went to breakfast at the dining hall that morning, and then after breakfast our family stepped outside with the Camp Director to break the news that we wouldn't stay. I stood there trying with all of my might not to open my big mouth and blurt out the reason why we were leaving.
Ugh.... It was too much for my little 10-ish year old brain to handle. I spilled the beans. Right there in front of my whole family, I stood there and let it all fly.
After my parents' initial shock, they escorted my brother and I to our family station wagon. We piled in, and started our two plus hour trek home... In utter silence. Not a word was spoken that whole way home. I REALLY do remember it all. It is my most vivid child hood memory. Perhaps because I really learned something that day.
We arrived home, and as we pulled into our driveway, the silence was broken. Dad said there would be no trip to the zoo after all. All of a sudden, not only did I have my own anger issues to deal with, but I was also faced with a VERY angry brother who blamed me for the whole thing. I guess I was the only one to blame though.
I sat in my room the entire day. I never came out. I kept expecting that at some time during the day, my father would come to my door and say something like, "Okay, I can see you have learned your lesson. We will go to the zoo now."
Problem was, the lesson could only be learned if my father kept his word, and that he did. There was no trip to the zoo.
We had a very similar experience in our house this past weekend. We were supposed to go skiing, but due to some behavioral issues from all three of the boys, we had to inform them that we would not be going. They were pretty upset to say the least. They all three went straight to their rooms where they wound up camping out and eventually fell asleep at a very early hour (like 6pm early). The scenario immediately reminded me of my own child hood story. I thought back, and I gained new perspective.
As much as it hurt me that day to have my trip to the zoo taken away... As much as it angered me and made me feel that life "just isn't fair"... It hurt my parents more. They were probably disappointed in me greatly and they more than likely wondered why I chose to make the wrong decision. Why did I choose disobedience? What had they done wrong that hadn't encouraged me to make to right decision?
I went to bed the other night with all of these questions racing through my mind. After much thought and prayer... I came to one realization. The Lord asks Himself these things constantly, and I am one of those who prompts these questions. I run off stomping my feet, thinking that things aren't fair, and He wonders, "Child, are you learning anything in this? Are you stopping and quieting yourself long enough to see where you made your mistakes?"
I learned a lesson that day thirty some odd years ago. It is a lesson that has stuck with me and remained strong in my mind. Strong enough for me to use even this past weekend with my own three children. It really stunk not being able to go skiing this weekend. It was a beautiful day, and I'm sure the conditions were near perfect, but were they?
The conditions needed some guidance and room for improvement. When we DO go (hopefully soon), we will go with a much deeper understanding of the purpose of discipline. We will ALL go with a much different mind set than what we would have had if we would have given in to bad behavior. Stories from the present, and stories of the past have a way of making me see clearer... With better perspective and understanding of who Jesus is and what He wants for me and for my family.