Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Only Because You’re Makin’ Me!

“Nathan, you need to ride in Grandma and Grandpa’s car. I’m riding with Aunt Kristy.”

“But I want to ride with Aunt Kristy,” Nathan whined knowing that Kristy would be making a stop to pick up his cousin Kai on the way back to my parents’ house.

I went into a long explanation about the amount of seatbelts in each car, where the booster seats were, laws about kids sitting in the front seat, and other stuff that made little difference to my six-year-old. All he knew was he wanted to ride with his cousin and I, the meanie mom, was keeping him from it.

We went back and forth for a few minutes.

“Nathan please, we’ve had a really fun day with Grandma and Grandpa. Let’s not ruin it over something silly.” Please God, I sent up a desperate prayer for my precious, funny, but often intense youngest son, speak to Nathan’s heart. Tell him he needs to obey.

Suddenly Nathan got quiet. Kristy’s van came into view—the van that Nathan wanted to ride in.

My shoulders tensed. God, come on. I don’t want to make a scene.

Just as I was preparing another speech and psyching myself up to physically stuff Nathan into his assigned spot, I heard him say . . .

“Okay, fine.”

“Fine what?”

“I’ll do it.” I heard the emotional edge in his voice. This was a tough move for him. “I’ll ride in Grandma’s car.” His volume rose for emphasis. “But only because you’re makin’ me.”

Thank you, God. I’ll take an “Only because I have to.” At least he’s complying.

“Thank you, Nathan. I’m very proud of you.”

“But next time, I’m riding in Kristy’s car no matter what.”

“Well, we’ll see.”

“I really want to ride with Kai.”

“I know.”

“But since you’re MAKIN’ me . . . “ his teeth clenched.

“You made the right decision, Nate. Thank you so much.”

I heard my sister and Dad snickering behind me. My oldest son Christian groaned, as if to say, “I can’t believe I’m related to him.”

At the time Nathan’s response stood as a mark of new maturity. A year ago the battle would have raged on and ended with Nathan enduring consequences and me exhausted. This time he’d done the right thing. He wasn’t happy but he did it without a humiliating scene.

Later I thought more deeply about Nathan’s “Only because you’re makin’ me” comment. How many times do I respond that way?

“Okay, fine, I’ll follow that law. But only because I have to, to avoid going to jail!”

“Okay, God, fine, I’ll be kind to that horrible person. But only because you say I have to.”

I’ll obey but my heart isn’t in it at all. I can’t help wondering, does my obedience count with God when I do it with a bad attitude? Knowing that God looks at the heart leaves me wondering. How can I make obedience more sincere? How can I learn to do those things that please God but don’t necessarily please me, with a joyful heart?

It’s something to think about.

God, help me work on my attitude in obedience, knowing that you see right through to the heart behind my actions.
By the way, the kid in the picture is not Nathan. But he does get that look at times.