When my son was three years old, my daughter was not quite two. Going ANYWHERE with them took two times the work, frustration bounced around like a balloon on a rubber band and it was almost always more trouble than productive. But I didn't want to commit myself to a life of "mommydom" in our house and wait until Dad came home and could help. We were strapped for money so hiring a babysitter for basic errands was not practical and it was important to socialize the children early so they would be familiar with crowds, store noises and learning "stay with mommy, stay beside the buggy, stay with mommy, don't touch that, don't put that in your mouth and stay with mommy."
One day after an exhausting three hour tour, 'Wheels on the Bus go round and round' 'I love you, you love me' and 'Home again, Home again Jiggity jog' we pulled into the garage. The boy started pumping his legs to get out of his car seat, his sister was asleep with a cracker stuck to her cheek, and I wanted find my favorite red chair and a book. (or something a little less selfish sounding) I unbuckled my son, set him down and he toddled off to climb the 4 steps from the garage to the kitchen. As I reached in to get his sister, I called his name and said, "Son, won't you help carry in a few bags of groceries, please?"
He gripped the handrail and steadied himself between the steps. "NO," and gave a small shrug. I balanced my limp, sweaty daughter still asleep on my shoulder and two bags of groceries in the other hand and snapped, "THAT, was not nice, son." He turned all the way around walked down one step and and said,
"I'm sorry momma." My heart leapt into a beautiful series of acrobatics and I enjoyed the moment of looking at my precious son with adoration. He was going to do the right thing. He was going to help his mother. At the tender age of three, he recognized his rudeness and corrected his behavior. I am brilliant a mother, really. Then he said, "I'm sorry momma. No thank you, please. No thank you" then he climbed the stairs and shut the door.
Manners = A, Application = D-
I was stunned but couldn't help but chuckle. I was mildly impressed with his clever politeness. Every time I tell this story, even after so many years, it always gets a laugh because kids will say the darnedest things. But my son's polite, "thanks but no thanks" made me think about how we as Christians, politely say no. Our words may be polite, but our actions are not. When The Holy Spirit whispers something into our hearts and we feel led to do something but we don't follow through out of fear, judgement or lack of qualification, then we are giving a polite no. We know what we need to do, but step to the side and allow the moment to pass.
I've seen a person who I knew could use a few dollars, or could use a word of encouragement but I clammed up and kept walking. I'm ashamed, but then my brain shhhhh's my heart and yells - BE PRACTICAL WOULD 'YA?!?! There are crazy people out there who might be dangerous! Keep to yourself. Shameful. Even serving in the church has been a tough one for me. Embarrassing, I know. Not that I don't want to serve, I'm just awkward with new service. My family has only just recently jumped in to help with hospitality a couple times a month but honestly, I am DRAINED when our shift ends. It's nerve wracking for a bunch of introverts but we do it because it was pressed into our hearts. (At least it was pressed in mine and I pressed it into my family. Help the Holy Spirit out and all. I'm glad we do it though because it feels good smiling and greeting and looking people in the eyes. You never know what's behind those eyes coming into church. A warm, accepting face may be the kindness they need and we're giving them a polite YES!
Seeds to Share:
James 4:17 - So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.