Well, today I had to 'bring the smackdown'. My kids are all grounded from doing anything with friends for a week, or possibly longer. I reached my limit today of hearing them be nasty and vile to each other, generally motivated out of pure selfishness.
Honestly, a really good mom probably would have addressed this long ago; but I'm a procrastinator and a 'yeller'. I'm the type to scold and scold, but not nearly as good as I should be with immediate follow through. For many years I would see other 'bad' kids and have been very quick to walk in judgment, or think (rather piously) how MY kids would never act that way. Yesterday my son had a friend over and I was really disappointed in how he treated the friend, as well as his brother. The reality is, I've been noticing all of my kids bickering and sniping at each other, but for some reason my brain finally engage yesterday in realizing what a big issue this is and that it needs to be addressed - swiftly and soundly.
So we had a big discussion about how we should treat people, and how important it is to treat family as good as you would a friend (that is, assuming you're actually treating your friends well), etc., etc. I informed them that til I could see them treating each other well, they would not be going over to any friends houses, and if that wasn't enough, they'd begin losing other privileges as well.
In the midst of trying to stay on top of this with my kids, I'm hearing 'murmuring' about all kinds of stuff from adults - complaining or gossiping about friendships, family relationships, church relationships, co-worker relationships, etc. and it makes me think, "Wow, this must be how God feels about us!" We snipe at each other - although much more subtly, or behind each others' backs. We get offended, we tattle. Rarely do we confront in love, truly seeking the best for EVERYONE involved. Usually we just seek to get OUR needs met, OUR choices affirmed, OUR feelings validated. It's human nature, I guess. Fallen human nature, that is. I mean, look at Adam & Eve - the first thing they did when God asked them about the 'situation' they had gotten themselves into was blame somebody else. Protect self. I know it's usually my first gut reaction. It's a LEARNING process to not REACT when you feel threatened, or mistreated or misunderstood, but rather to pull yourself together, pray and respond in a Christ-like way. I guess God really wants me to 'get' this because it seems like every week (sometimes a couple times a week!) I have new opportunities landing in my lap to be hurt or offended. And boy do I want to snatch up those opportunities!! I think maybe I should start meditating daily on these verses:
Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. Hebrews 12:14-15