When I want my kids to do something better or different, it’s easy to talk to them like they are idiots. I wish it weren’t, but it is. I’ve said something so many times and feel frustrated about saying it again. I feel like they’ve heard it, so they know it, so they should do it. Hidden under this expectation is the assumption that they’re thinking of it in this moment and deliberately doing otherwise, when in reality, they are thinking about what their friend said today and why they don’t get passed to in basketball.

When I think about my own ability to follow through on the things I “know”, there are so many things I’ve heard and still don’t know deep inside or act on. Does it help if someone gets mad about it? If it’s someone who matters to me, I may feel scared and move it up my priority list, but does it become a lifelong habit? Probably not. When I’ve thought God was angry, it didn’t help me think straight and do right. It made me scared and stressed and a little frantic. When I believe He is patient and knew exactly how long it would take for me to “get it,” I relax and get back on track.

So I’m working on remembering that my wrath doesn’t help. One of my kids tried using their own wrath to get themselves to shape up. I saw it and was able to suggest, “You could try telling yourself, ‘It’s okay. I’ll get it next time.’” I made a mental note to try this myself. I believe the only one who wins when we get bogged down by our mistakes is Satan. So I try to take grace as the free pass that it is and run with it. I want to pop right back up after I fall and start tearing through the world with the love I’ve been given. No self-punishment. All freedom. No wrath. All loving-kindness. This is what it means to be God’s child.

His banner over me is love. Song of Solomon 2:4