It was Tuesday morning. My sons were working through a biology study guide together, preparing for a test. My 8th grader enjoys all things science, but my 10th grader would rather have his teeth pulled than study biology. He'd willingly spend twice as long studying the Constitution of the United States in its original language than a fourth of that time with a microscope. Today was no exception. As my younger son attempted to answer his older brother's unrelenting questions, he lost his patience and muttered something unkind. Already frustrated and now provoked, my older son slugged his younger brother.
People issues - ugh! - by far the most challenging moments of my homeschooling day, but also often the most rewarding.
I sent my older son to his room to cool off, and talked to my younger son first. As usual, science wasn't the problem, expectations were. Too often we expect things from others we have no right to expect. Today, my older son expected his younger brother to do all the studying and feed him the answers, not only unrealistic, but wrong, a lose-lose situation.
When we expect others to distract us from our boredom, ease our loneliness, dispel our insecurities, or love us through our most unlovable moments, we expect too much. People can't fulfill our deepest needs, but God can, and He promises us in Philippians 4:19 that He will: "And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus." With a beautiful promise like that, why do we continue to seek fulfillment in fellow, fallible human beings?
As I talked with my boys later that morning, I reminded them that God placed each of us in this family together on purpose. He knew it wouldn't always be easy, that there would be arguments and conflicts, and that tempers would sometimes flare. Yet God created families, because this is where we learn about whom God is and what grace means. This is where we learn to love one another deeply from the heart, to put God first, and to adjust our expectations of others. Family is where we learn respect and trust, teamwork and values. It's where we learn to encourage and pray for one another, where we learn to put the other person's needs ahead of our own. Family, like military boot camp, can be exhausting and exhilarating, challenging and freeing, frustrating and sometimes even overwhelming, but it's also where we learn to see one another not as we are today, but for whom we can become as we grow together in Christ. Seeing others' potential inspires us to persevere together through the rough patches, and as we do, we begin to learn what it means to willingly lay down our life for our brother.
Father, thank you for Your precious, priceless gift of family, and the opportunity to grow together into the people You created us to be. May we never take it or You for granted. Amen.
Cindee Snider Re lives in Sussex, WI with her husband, their five children, two cats, and two Shichon puppies. She enjoys quiet evenings, long walks, good books, homeschooling her kids, and lots of good, strong, hot, black tea.