Monday, November 2, 2009

William's Big Decision

William. He has taught me so much about being a better parent. He has taught me so much about myself. Being William's Mommy has brought me to my knees, more often to pray for myself than for him. It has humbled me and shown me how prideful I am. He teaches me about forgiveness.
I love this little guy more than I could ever tell you.

A few weeks ago, the kids and I were driving home from church, and James asked me about getting baptized. 
"Jesus didn't get baptized until he was a grown-up," he said. 
Since I speak James, I was able to translate this into: "there ain't no way you're dunking me in that water until I am big!"

William wanted to argue so he said, "I want to get baptized."

James wouldn't stand for this and immediately jumped in with his 2 cents. "You have to ask Jesus into your heart first, William. You can do it. It's easy. I did it when I was 3. It isn't hard at all."

William put on his grouchy face, and said, "this is a really bad day."
Since I speak William, I knew what he was really saying: "this conversation is making me uncomfortable, and I don't like it. And I don't like James telling me what to do. And I'm not going to do what anyone tells me. So there."

But he's been thinking about it.

Tonight, while he cuddled with Daddy before bed, William rolled over and said, "Daddy, I want to go to heaven and see Jesus."
Aaron said, "all right," and they prayed together.
Then William said, "but I don't want to die on the cross, Daddy."

He doesn't understand it all.  But he has faith.  And as he grows, he'll learn more. He still has some thinking to do.

About a year ago, Aaron and I were in the trenches with William. Every night we entered the no man's land of putting him to bed. Bombs exploded, there were tears, there was anger, there was great frustration and there was sadness. We felt like the worst parents. We felt like he was winning and we wanted to win.
Often times days weren't much better. It was a hard few months. It felt like the biggest thing we had ever dealt with and we didn't even know how to deal with it. It seemed that William's whole future depended on this one thing: will he go to bed and stay there like we tell him? Will he obey?If not, does it mean he is destined for a life of drugs, crime and prison? Or something like that.

Finally, we folded. We just laid down with him and held him until he fell asleep. We felt like failures. Loser parents. Weak.
Mostly we were tired.

But as the months have gone by, our view has changed. Bedtime with William has become one of the best parts of the day. That boy loves to cuddle. He whispers sweet words in our ears and makes sweet confessions like, "I love everyone, Mommy, but I don't love bad guys." Or, "Mommy, I promise never to do anything dangerous." I think he thrives on that little bit of one on one time he gets with his Mommy and Daddy. He connects with us there. And we connect with him.

I think if we had stuck with it, we could have beaten him down emotionally until we had won. But what would that have done to his heart? His heart is so soft, so tender. All day long he stops and looks at me, "I love you, Mommy." Oh he still has fits, but if I stop him and hold him and speak to him in love, not anger, he responds.

He was only 2 and he needed us. He needed us then and we were so hell bent on getting him to stay in bed that we didn't even see it.

Would it have been worth it? Sometimes I'd say yes. When I don't want to lay down and cuddle at the end of a long day. 
But mostly, I'd say no. Because who would have been there to hear that sweet little voice say, "Daddy, I want to go to heaven to see Jesus."

We can govern our children with fear, or we can govern our children with love. I'm finding that love works much better.

"A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." Proverbs 15:1

Love from,


Erin McDonald said...

Well done! I am so happy to hear this! We will be praying as little William seeks to obey Jesus's comand to be baptized!

Shannon said...

What a wonderfully sweet post.