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Sunday, February 24, 2013
My daughter turned two this month. After hearing people talk about the “terrible twos,” I saw it coming even before she celebrated her birthday.
Usually, it’s something small—like asking her to come so I can change her diaper and watching her run in the opposite direction. I know that in many cases, she’s just playing because that’s what toddlers do. But other times, when I need her to obey (and she doesn’t), it turns into a tantrum (of various sizes). By the time she’s done, I’m exhausted, and I can’t help but wonder where my sweet one-year old went.
As a first-time mother, I question myself all the time: Is she just being a toddler? Does she understand what I’m saying? How do I train her to be obedient? Do I need to discipline this attitude? Am I just angry because this goes against what I want?
That last question is hard. My husband and I once worked with a character-consulting organization, so I’ve spent quite a bit of time learning character qualities. I know that truthfulness is foundational to trust. I want to be responsible so that others can depend on me to get the job done. I practice hospitality so that others can find rest and enjoyment in our home. The question, however, is not so much do I know what to do, but why I do it?
I’m realizing that I often demonstrate character simply because it benefits me and my reputation. If I can’t be a good hostess, then I don’t want people over to find out. I’m embarrassed when our budget doesn’t allow me to buy people a nice gift. I get upset when my family makes us late for a commitment that I made. When it all boils down, it’s all about me. And in that sense, my self-centeredness is just as terrible as my 2-year old’s.
Don’t get me wrong—I do want my daughter to grow up learning to be generous and diligent, obedient and kind. But beyond that, I want her to realize that demonstrating character isn’t enough if it springs from self-centeredness and produces pride. God doesn’t love us more if we demonstrate more character. No, being a Christian is about coming to know the Savior who left His glory, lived a perfect life, and died on our behalf. Only a relationship with Him will transform us from the inside out. Only He can produce character in our life that really counts.
“[Christ] died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” (2 Corinthians 5:15 esv)