Dinner was so good that I suggested we open a food truck.
Oh, yeah, I did.
Adding Sriracha hot sauce to a bottle of Ranch dressing finally perfected our teriyaki rice bowl with a fried egg on top and we ate happy around the table. For a family of five, you know when everyone has the same favorite meal, it’s miracle-territory.
Maybe that’s why I didn’t expect the pending explosion of words.
I took another bite and reminded our kids that their dad and I would be heading out right after dinner to a meeting about welcoming refugees to our city. I think I told you about their urging to get more involved in the refugee crisis at Christmas at the very same table when Aleppo had fallen.
So, when one of these same kids questioned if we really had time for another commitment and how this might effect their schedule, I was surprised. While I was trying to decide if this was the voice of wisdom and reason (which often it is), the conversation spiraled into something entirely different.
Ah, yes. Entitlement still rears it’s ugly head at the table.
We finished eating and left our three kids to clean dinner dishes while Terrell and I retreated to our room to the lovely sound of clanging and banging and feuding and fighting in the kitchen.
He shut the door and I pointed to the chaos in the other room, “This is exactly why we need to go. We need to see and smell and touch those who have less than us, so we can remember how much we have.”
I won’t lie, this is where satan attacks me the most in parenting. Because I was tempted to not go, to not get involved, to not do something that might make us uncomfortable, cost us time and money. I was tempted to put my kids first.
It’s so easy in our culture to put our kids before everything else– marriage, faith and even God. And when we do, the only gift we are giving them is the burden that they are most important in the world. And that’s heavy for anyone. When we put their wants and desires in front of what is best for the family, we are raising them to believe that the world revolves around them.
And it’s a huge shock when it doesn’t.
Of course, there are days and months, seasons and even years when motherhood demands our kids come first. And that’s good. Holy. And then there are opportunities to put them second by serving others and teach them the joy that comes with it.
We still use the same recipe to cure entitlement: a dose of perspective and a dab of gratitude. So, we went to our meeting and we were each handed four sets of four pieces of paper. On each set we were asked to 1. Write down the names of the 4 people we love most in the world; 2. Write down our 4 most precious possessions; 3. Write down 4 titles we hold (mom, wife, etc); 4. Write down 4 things we love to do.
Then we were told to take one answer from each stack and throw it away because we would never see or do it again. Yeah, that was hard. Then the leaders came and took some or all the papers from our stacks, leaving us with scattered half-gone paper piles and said, “This is how a refugee feels when they come to our city. They have all lost something.”
A tear slipped down my cheek as I looked at what I had left in my lap. Perspective. It changes everything.
That very same kid of mine who waved the entitlement banner high, was the first one to meet me at the door, asking to read the information I brought home, eagerly listening to what we learned and asked, “So, when do we get to go to the airport to welcome refugees?”
And two nights later, that very same kid begged to go buy items to fill up Welcome Kits for refugees coming to our city.
Don’t think for a second that by not putting your kids first, they aren’t getting something. When we put God and others first, we are teaching our kids the Kingdom order and it’s the best gift we can give them.