When I was debating about whether or not to be a missionary (this was 11 years ago, before I was even dating Dan), one of my big hindrances was the idea that if I were to work overseas, any children that I had would be TCKs (third culture kids). Since I am one myself, I know some of the really, really crappy parts of the experience are inevitable – the loneliness, isolation and the fact that you can’t keep a friend for more than a couple of years because everyone around you is constantly in flux. I struggled a lot with the idea of knowingly bringing a child into that world. But I did…
Since we have returned to Peru, I’ve seen my 5 year old, Moses, thrust into these very issues. He misses his family and friends in the USA and the makeup of our missions community (for now) means he is surrounded by middle and high school aged boys with nary a one his age around. He has also rejected his past playgroup of his younger brothers and another 4 year old girl, I think mostly because he is sick of the little girl bossing them all around (and I can’t blame him for that). But that means he is alone.
Now he’s turned mean. My sweet, little people-pleaser has turned into a back-talking bully, and I waffle between being heartbroken for him and wanting to wring his neck. I know most of it is from his inability to process and understand the big emotions that he has, yet I cannot tolerate the attitude and hatefulness he has been showing more and more each day.
This afternoon, after another incident in which he was smacking an older boy with a stick, I sent him in for a nap and laid down in my own bed to pray. I pretty much told God, “I’m claiming that wisdom you promised me.” (see James 1). Eventually we both got up and sat together in the rocking chair. And the verses kept coming into my head. The wisdom promised was granted.
Moses and I talked about our hearts and the fact that what is in our hearts is what comes out in our words and actions. We talked about what it must mean when his words and actions have been so hateful and mean. I asked him why his heart was so angry and unkind, and he had a few ideas (“I’m tired. I want everyone to live here not in Kentucky and California.”). But we pretty much landed on the now what question. I told him that I could not change his heart because I am not big enough, nor can he change his own heart through his efforts for he is not strong enough either. I explained that only God can do a work that huge, but He will not force it on us. I told him that he could ask God to help him, but I would not require him to do so. He wanted to pray…
After he and I both prayed, I explained the idea of conscience and how that was the Holy Spirit talking to him and giving him feelings of remorse when he didn’t act the way a child of God should. We talked about learning to be discerning and allowing those feelings to remind us and change our direction. A few minutes later, he left but returned soon to tell me that he wanted to go apologize to the boy that he had earlier hit. It’s a start.
I know this is only the beginning of probably a long process for this tender kid whose emotions are bigger than life, who feels deeply but can’t always figure out what he is feeling. I pray that God would keep giving me wisdom like today (cause I sure didn’t come up with that stuff on my own!) and that He would mold this boy of mine into a man after His own heart.
And I wonder how on earth can people be parents without God? I couldn’t.