As our small group meeting was wrapping up the other night, my kids made their way into the kitchen for the remaining dessert. I was still in the living room visiting when what happend next went down.
Just having fun, so they thought, which led my husband to join in. But when “Chicken” came out of Daddy’s mouth, it was all over. In a rage of anger the lit 4-wick candle was picked up and about to be thrown at Dad!
Whoa – This escalated fast and I’m still in the other room unaware this is happening! But when I called for my husband to go after the dog, who had run out the front door, he yelled, “I’ve got to deal with my kid first!”
That is when I knew something was wrong!
As I went toward the kitchen my other two start filling me in on their sibling’s “anger issues” and I see my husband with this kid pinned against the refrigerator. It is, of course, feeling a little awkward for the remaining small group members so they quickly, quietly escape out and the five of us are left to deal.
Two thoughts stick out to me about all of this. Thoughts that would take this post in two different directions so instead of fully examining either I will just throw each out as food for thought.
First, my child was angry. But anger was not the real issue. It was bad fruit, not the root. What needs to be asked is what led to that expression. If we don’t go there, we are just covering the real heart issues with bandaids.
In the case of this child, the real issue is identity. Being a “chicken” meant being scared – something this child does not want to be viewed as. This child cares alot about what other people think, more than who God declares His children to be. This “fear of man” idol ruling the heart is the root we must expose in parenting this child.
For the rest of us, the conflict served as a reminder of how our words hurt. A reminder of how fragile we can all be. A reminder of how messed-up and messy relationships are – which is my second thought.
How apropos, really, that our small group had just been discussing the muck and mess of relationships based on our new study in Paul Tripp and Tim Lane’s book Relationships: A Mess Worth Making. And then this situation – almost like an explanation point to the book’s introduction! Lol!
(As a side note – in case anyone mistakenly thinks pastors’ families somehow don’t experience the same normal broken sinful mess as everyone else, you are wrong!)
But here is the rub, as image-bearers of Christ we are created to be in community with one another. Created to reflect and display Jesus to one another – even and especially in the way we deal with conflict.
Once we go there by God’s grace may we not live our lives too “chicken” to deal honestly in relationships. Whether that means wading in to messy relational conflicts, being willing to sacrificially invest in others or taking off our mask to be transparent, this is where we are called to go.
May God’s grace trump our fear so we learn to live redemptively with one another to His glory!