Yesterday was Monday, in all its exhausting glory. The weekend shot by unusually fast, it seemed, and I felt unready to jump back into school. Then the dog got sick and gave me a pseudo-reprieve; instead of school I ended up spending the morning at the vet. The dog’s on steroids now, with a guarded prognosis… some scary-sounding auto immune thing. Poor baby. She’s only 7. We go back Thursday for more lab work– hoping she’ll make it.
After I got home and settled the lethargic dog on a crib mattress in the garage, I walked into the house to find the 16 year old explaining a math lesson to the younger kids, bless his heart. The kids were ignoring him listening with varying levels of utter boredom pretended attention, seemingly unaware that they will indeed need to learn this stuff, bless their lil hearts. Nevermind that of his own free will he was taking time and energy to help them.
I mustered reasonable good humor as I asked them to thank their brother for his help. We then moved on through lunch and afternoon house cleanups. In the process I wrestled with a few attitudes, had a long talk with a kid. Went for a walk with a child who spent the first half of the walk deliberately walking 10 feet behind me. Came back in and had more conversations with other kids about other familiar issues. Got dinner done. Wrestled with a few more major ‘tudes, not the least of which by that time was my own. By the time John got home, I was ready to spit nails. Good thing God didn’t so equip me. But the cranky words– they were spitting freely.
The attitudes were ones we’ve discussed for months years. The words were ones I’ve repeated many times: “This is your math, you need to care enough to work til you understand it.” “Even if you don’t want to ______, it is still your job to obey with good humor.” Yada, yada, yada. On any given day, I address issues in a huge variety of ways. Outright disobedience earns consequences. Rudeness does too. But also I talk with my kids. I speak fervently, passionately, creatively. Sometimes with frustration, sometimes with humor, sometimes even with tears. I care about them, and and I tell them that.
But still eyes glaze over. The same problems happen again and again. And hopelessness overtakes my mind, at least some days.
Days like yesterday when I see no progress. No change. I feel like I’ll be doing this every Monday (and Tuesday and Wednesday and…..) for the foreseeable future, never making a lick of difference.
I think it’s no coincidence that over the weekend a guest pastor at our church told me the story of Joshua and that big old Jericho wall. The wall that those Israelites were told to walk around. I bet when God told them to march around the wall, they wondered what was going on. They wondered how their puny walking could possibly be making a lick of difference.
And it didn’t make a difference on that first day. Nor on the second, or the third, or even the sixth.
How thrilled do you think they were to be walking around that big old city after the first day or two?
And on that seventh day, when God told them to march around 7 times, do ya think some of them were tired of marching? Do you think some of them were wanting to stay in their tents and take a nap?
I don’t know, because the Bible doesn’t really say. But judging by myself yesterday, I’m guessing there may have been a doubter or two in the bunch.
Wow, do I want to see some walls falling down. I want to see progress. I passionately want healed hearts for wounded ones. I want kids to smile into my eyes instead of stone-walling when I smile at them. To lean into my embrace instead of stiffening. I want kids to care enough about learning that they will ask about unknown words. I want them to try hard at math and reading, and yeah, I confess, I even want them to remember 7×9 and 17-9 from one day to the next.
I’m not seeing it yet. Not for all the kids anyway. And that’s really, really hard for me. Crazy hard.
But you know what? Today my job is just to keep marching. Whether or not those walls fall down. Whether or not I see progress today or next month or next year.
Keep marching, knowing that imperfect parents and imperfect kids will always have struggles.
Keep marching, remembering that it is God who gives the increase.
Keep marching, trusting that my God does indeed make walls fall down.