I’m so tired. And worn out. Exhausted. Drained. I’m literally trying not to fall asleep as I type this. I know that most of you, if not all of you can relate to this. I go to sleep lately thinking how I can’t wait to take a nap after work the next day! I wake up looking forward to that nap. But, here’s the thing: I never get around to actually taking that nap! It seems like such a comforting thing to look forward to, but it rarely ever happens. Such is the life of any mom, but especially the life of a mama of two wild and crazy boys such as myself. I say that with the utmost love and affection, I really do.
My guys are 12 and 9. They are complete polar opposites. My 12 year old is sweet and sensitive. He loves school and has a natural love for learning anything new and as a result excels in school. He loves guitar and music and will read five books a week, just for fun, telling you in great depth what they’re about along with inferences he learned from the text. He loves to write and bowl. He loves going to church and youth group and lately, I’ve found him asleep at night with his Bible. He came to a saving knowledge of Christ at age 9 and loves to learn what he can about the Lord. He’s also impulsive and prone to hyper focus and needs help staying on task, be it brushing his teeth or doing his homework. If something bothers him, he can’t let it go until he finds the answer or at least can come to a reasonable conclusion. It bothers him immensely when rules are broken, whether it’s his brother, a classmate, or the stranger in Walmart who has 11 items in the 10 items or less line. He’s quirky and bright and I love him to pieces.
My 9 year old, on the other hand, is sweet and sensitive too, but only when it’s just him and I at tuck in time, or when he’s absolutely sure no one else is paying attention. Otherwise, he’s Mr. Tough Guy. He also excels in school, but doesn’t like to go. He doesn’t understand why he has to be in school for 6 1/2 hours, when the teacher can just as easily give him his work all at once so he can get it done and move onto other stuff like gym, teacher PE or lunch. Better yet, he’d rather just do his work and go home. He likes to listen to music and sing, but only if he thinks no one is watching. He loves sports and seems to be naturally gifted at whatever sport he tries out. When he was only two, this kid could tell you every Nascar driver and his number and explain what drafting on the track was to you, thanks to my husband. He’s an excellent reader and reads well above grade level, just like his big brother. But, sometime around the end of first grade, when he really discovered the world of sports, he stopped reading on his own for fun, other than the monthly book discussion I make him attend at our local library or his daily reading log for school. He just doesn’t like to sit for it. While my 12 year old has always loved Sunday School and other church activities, he feels church is boring and hates going. He believes in God and Jesus, so that’s good enough for him. He’s extremely hard willed and stubborn and strong. He’d rather sit in his room for hours on end before admitting he’s wrong and asking for forgiveness. Lately he’s taking to back talking because he just has to have the last word. He thinks nothing of whacking his brother upside the head when he’s mad at him. He loves to test rules and boundaries with my husband and I while at the same time receiving high praises from his teachers for being a star student and good friend to others at school. He’s quirky and bright and I love him to pieces.
However, they wear me out and sometimes even drive me a bit bonkers. They’ve reached that point in their relationship where they drive each other crazy, too. They can be playing outside or Legos together just beautifully one minute and rolling around trying to kill each other the next. I’m all for boys being boys. I know now that they’re going to wrestle, pick their nose (occasionally eating it) and pass gas no matter what intervention you try to do. That, my friends, is just the nature of being a boy. Without a doubt, boys are so innately hard wired and designed by God to just be gross. Seriously, they are. I know that is extremely hard for mamas who just have girls to get, but, it’s true. So, if they’re not hurting each other, or doing these things in public, and are saying,”Excuse me without any prompts, (even while giggling) well, I’ve come to accept that as success and move on. However, when that wrestling turns to intentionally trying to hurt each other, well, that’s another story. Like, I said, they wear me out.
For years, I used to cry out, “Seriously, Lord, why me? Why can’t my kids behave like so and so’s boys?” I’m ashamed to admit I have also, in bursts of impulsive anger, voiced aloud to my boys,”What is wrong with you? Why can’t you listen like so and so?” Their faces would fall and my oldest would get so upset and immediately apologize, while my youngest would claim I didn’t love him and stomp off. I would walk into church and swear that every other child was sitting quietly with perfect, glowing halos hovering above their heads while my two were walking around with visible, little red devils, sitting on their shoulder, urging them to run in the sanctuary or play in the water fountain, whack each other upside of the head or grab 3 donuts to everyone’s one. I mean, clearly, with 40 other children running around church, my two weren’t the only ones engaging in, GASP, childish, behavior, but it sure felt like it. My mother and others would tell me over and over again that they weren’t nearly as misbehaved as I thought they were. That I needed to relax a bit. They’re just, GASP (again), behaving like little boys should.
It wasn’t until quite recently, this past August in fact, that I was able to look at my boys in a different light. At the last moment, I was given free tickets to a Jeremy Camp concert. It was two hours away and if I wanted to make it in time, I had to leave in less than thirty minutes. Not wanting the opportunity to pass to take the boys to their first concert, I quickly threw them in the car and headed north. It was a mess getting there. The GPS was off because the streets were all renamed and the poor British girl living inside the GPS was all sorts of confused. The turnpike was backed up because of an accident. Once we finally arrived to the beautiful, quaint, old shore town in which the concert was being held, we could find no where to park. I mean, NO WHERE. It was a town lined with skinny, one way, cobble stone streets, half of which were blocked off because of this music festival that the concert was a part of. I literally drove around an hour, with cranky, frustrated and bickering children listening to Camp singing through the rolled down windows, because, of course, the concert had already started by this time and they were pumping it through a loud speaker. Finally, I spotted a parking lot about three or four blocks past the concert venue, across a bridge and near the ocean. For the record, I’m a life long South Jersey gal who doesn’t like the beach and ocean, let alone have to park next to it. So, the fact that I had to park there was like icing on this cake of disaster the evening had turned into. I’m sure most of you are thinking, “Girl, I would have left by then!” However, my 9 year old gets his stubbornness pretty honestly, I’m just saying. So, I parked. I grabbed the boys’ hands, and started walking along the waterside, up and across the footbridge towards the direction of the music. There was a man at the end of the footbridge watching us the entire ten minutes it took to get to this point. It was dusk by then and although it was a nice area and lots of people were around, he made me nervous. As I grabbed both boys’ hands tighter and drew nearer to him, he called out,” I noticed you didn’t get a parking ticket from the meter.” And he points, to a tiny meter with an even tinier sign, that I never saw, at the complete opposite end of the lot from where I parked. “Come on, I’ll show you .” We turn, follow him to the meter, pay and take a ticket back to the car.
Friends, at this point, I was not leaving. Even if I heard only one song, I was getting inside this concert. Finally, finally, we reached the venue hall. It was a general admission ticket but the usher said, “You’re in luck, a few people just left,” and he proceeds to take us close to the left side of the stage, three rows back. The boys were so excited to sit so close, thank you for small miracles of awesomeness! Then, just picture, their cute little faces fall, as Jeremy said,”Before I sing you this last song…” Ha. “…I’m going to tell you about my kids.” My boys were immediately grumpy because they thought we were leaving after one song and one shoves the other while that one yells and I’m trying to quiet them down, and he starts his story. He starts his story and within two minutes I’m crying because I immediately know why it was such a crazy roller coaster of nonsense trying to get to this concert. Satan had tried to do everything within his power to get me to turn around and return home because he didn’t want me to hear what I was hearing.
Jeremy started talking about his kids and how utterly different they were, just like I told you about mine. How his daughters were pretty easy but his son just wore him and his wife out. How he would cry out to the Lord over and over again, “Lord, what’s wrong with him? Change him, Lord!” It was a struggle for him and his wife. He said that the Lord finally said to him,”Jeremy, stop that. He’s the way he is because I created him to be that way. I have plans to use that impulse and high energy to serve me. To lead others to me.” Then, Jeremy said,”And kids, man, your parents love you! Stop fighting with your brother or sister, and learn to get along and love each other, because that’s what He created you for.” My boys had a look of pure shock on their face and looked at me, thinking I somehow had conveyed to Jeremy Camp their behavior. It was an awesome, aha, lightbulb, God is using this moment, kind of experience that my boys talked about for weeks and months.
I needed to hear those reminder words of why my boys are wired the way they are. My boys needed to hear it too. I’d love to tell you that they now have those polished halos permanently hanging above their heads. I’d love to tell you I’ve completely kept my cool since August, but, of course, you know that’s not true. But, thank the Lord for teachable moments and the people, sometimes unlikely, that he puts in our paths to remind us of his grace. I’ve often referred back to that moment at the concert and it’s been a great reminder for us all. My crazy boys were created the way they were for HIS PURPOSE. God is going to use my oldest son’s sensitivity and impulsive nature for HIS PURPOSE. God is going to use my youngest son’s stubborn, strong will for HIS PURPOSE. That purpose will serve to LEAD PEOPLE TO HIS KINGDOM!!
Oh, get this: Jeremy sang one last song after that moment, of his first set. The kids got to hear a challenging message from a youth pastor of the powerful, loving and forgiving Lord who created and loves them and who has a plan for them, even though their young. Then Jeremy came back out and rocked a second set. It was awesome and Satan stayed away the rest of the night. He lost that battle.
He’s going to continue to lose battles and, ultimately, the war, when it comes to my boys. My God promises me that if I train my kids up, they will not stray from Him when they are grown. Isn’t that a comforting thought when it comes to raising our little boys to become men of God? He’s got our backs, mamas!
Let’s cultivate that unbridled recklessness found in our boys into a reckless passion for Christ!