This morning I discovered the remnants of three bad choices Isabel made yesterday. To disobey, to sneak, and to disregard caution. By her own admission she had a "bad" day.
I sent her to her room while I collected myself. My downfall is my temper and disobedience is a sure way to set it off. So, following a sensitivity to the Holy Spirit that I am learning not to ignore, I asked her to go elsewhere while I sought some wisdom and diffused the blood that was boiling inside me.
I sat on her bed ready to hand down consequences and was, once again, amazed by the depth of insight of my small child. I was going through the obligatory lecture about obedience and obeying parents to learn to obey God and my job of teaching her to do both when she stopped me with these words:
- "But, I have to be who I am."
-" What? What do you mean?"
-"I am a person and I am who I am and I don't know how to stop sneaking and doing bad things."
This seven year old understood, without understanding, the core of our depravity. We are who we are and we don't know how to be different. And often we don't want to.
So we talked about God's grace and his power to transform us into the people He wants us to be. We talked about consequences of our choices and the importance of learning to obey the Lord while we are young. And we talked about ways to withstand temptation. All in all a good conversation.
But the most crucial nugget of that conversation, the one I credit to the Holy Spirit itself, was this:
- "Every day, Isabel, there are voices calling for your attention and every day you make a choice of whose voice you will listen to."
I opened my Bible and showed her what Joshua told the Israelites in his last speech to the nation. "Choose this day whom you will serve...as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord" (24: 15b).
- "You can choose to serve yourself, Isabel, what you want, what you need, what you feel like doing. You can choose to listen to your own voice telling you that your desires are more important than the teachings we are giving you. And you can spend the day worrying that we will find out. Ashamed and fearful. Or you can choose to serve God and never have to hide what you did or fear the consequences. Which one sounds like a better life to you?"
Even a seven year old can figure that one out.
So I made signs that say: "Choose this day whom you will serve. Joshua 24:15" and hung them, child eye-level, around the house, on the refrigerator door, on the mirror of her bathroom, on the entrance of our classroom. Because this concept she understood and it is my job to teach her, to help her, and to remind her while she lives under my care.
But also to remind myself that every morning, I, too, have a choice to make. We all serve someone no matter what. It's who we are. So we choose. Every day. And we should choose wisely because how we choose will not only affect us but also our children, our husbands, and all we encounter in a day.
I know it is a choice I cannot make on my own. I don't have the strength. I can only make seeking God's grace which daily allows me to say with Joshua: "As for me and my family, we will serve the Lord."