I remember being a little girl and having what I would call a “healthy fear of God.” This seemed to be a fear my own children were lacking and I was becoming concerned. From the age of 5, I was well aware of the consequences of a lie. Not only was it wrong in the sight of God, but it would earn me a good swat! However, I took “no lying” to an entirely different level. “Veronica, were you just picking your nose?” my mother asked.
“Yes mom, I did. I don’t want to lie.” Yes, that’s right….honest Abe! There was nothing I wouldn’t tell my parents for fear of offending the Lord if I withheld information. I remember standing in the kitchen with my mom and grandmother telling them about my first breakup. I was in kindergarten. “I had to break up with one of my boyfriends. I didn’t think it was right having two.” I remember how stunned my grandmother was that I had said these words.
“She’s honest.” she said. As a mother, I can imagine all of the laughter my own mom had held in as I acknowledged each one of my 5 year old crimes. I didn’t even understand what Heaven truly entailed at that age. In my mind I visualized fluffy clouds and streets made of gold. I would have wings and a cheerio floating over my head. However, it sounded better to me than the ladder. As I grew older, that fear would subside a bit and I would see it’s affects on my own children.
The past five years of my life have probably been the busiest. I graduated from college, had my third child and moved all the way across the country, started a job…..only to quit that job and move down south! However, in the time that I was doing ALL of these things, God was never included. I didn’t have time for him. Therefore my life became chaotic and in shambles. My marriage was a mess and my children were now becoming a product of all of that chaos. Worst of all, they were lying to me! Lying was like breathing air to these little monsters! They were lying because they feared the punishment if I knew the truth, but not the punishment from God for not telling it. “Gabbie, did you hit your sister?”
“Then why does she have a big red hand print on her arm?”
“I don’t know!”
“Are you lying to me?”
“Stand in the corner.” Clearly the evidence was enough; yet, as a parent I wanted her to tell me the truth. I wanted her to realize that lying and hurting her sister was wrong. Still, as a mother I was no living example of how a person should live their life. As I grew older, I grew further away from God. Lying became much easier for me as a new feeling of numbness set in. So how could I expect my children to live a life that I myself was not living? Something had to change and that something was me. What a tough pill to swallow as a parent.
I had recently rededicated my life to God. I asked him to take the numbness away and help me lead my family to him. However, one of my greatest failures in parenting came recently when my child mimicked something she had heard from a movie I had allowed her to watch. Then again, she could have heard it from me as my husband and I were not trying very hard to filter our language. It was late at night and the girls were supposed to be in bed. Nevertheless, they were fighting as usual. Gabrielle was trying to go to sleep but her sister would not quit talking. I was sitting on the computer when Gabrielle walked into my room and said “Mommy, Christina just said a bad word to me!”
“What did she say Gabbie?” I asked.
“She said she was going to kick my (edit#$%^&).” It was that moment you see in the movie “A Christmas Story” where Ralphie has a slip of the tongue in front of his dad. NOOOOOOOOOOOOO! I thought.
“Christina! You come here.” I said.
“I don’t wanna come here.” She said. So I then proceeded to walk into her bedroom and probe her about “the word.”
“Did you tell your sister that you were going to…..”
“No! She’s lying!”
“Christina, you better tell me the truth!” I said angrily.
“I didn’t mean it! I’m sorry….I’m sorry!” she yelled with tears coming out of her eyes. At that moment I realized that this was my fault. My kids were a product of me and their words reflected my parenting. I had her stand with her nose to the wall as punishment and then sent her to bed. When I walked back into the room my husband was laughing. “I can’t believe she said that!” he laughed. He was trying to do so quietly though because he didn’t want her thinking it was funny or ok. I knew why she had done it though. She didn’t have that same understanding that I had as a child. It wasn’t the punishment of my parents I feared the most, but disappointing God by disappointing them. I had not instilled that in her.
So finally discussion day came. I sat with my girls and read passage after passage out of the Bible about obeying your parents. I wanted them to understand that I am not just asking them to obey us because it is pleasing to me, but because it pleases God. I also explained to them that I knew they were lying when they did so and that they would be in less trouble if they told me the truth than if I caught them in a lie. A little time had passed and I had finally seen the positive results of that discussion. Gabbie had not told me the truth about something. However, I knew in the back of my mind that she hadn’t. The difference from every other time she had lied was that this time I didn’t have to drag it out of her. She came to me and said “Mommy, I didn’t tell you the truth.” She could never understand how much that meant to me. She finally understood and I as a parent put an imprint in my child’s life that was positive. There are still many more years to come, but I finally felt as though my parenting had taken a step in the right direction.
“But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.” Matthew 15:18