The other day, a child in our household lied. [Actually, this event was several months ago. Discussion on the event follows.]
You need to know that I am very reluctant to make that assessment if there is any uncertainty, especially if a child denies lying. I ask, “Are you telling the truth?” I have explained more than once that mommy does not always know the truth, but God does. I have told my children at times that I am doubtful they are telling the truth. But I have long believed that the consequences of accusing a child who is telling the truth are not good. I’m willing to deal with the lesser consequences of believing a child who is, in fact, lying.
So the child in question was reading on the couch. I asked, “Dear child, have you made your bed today?” Child looks up and says, “Yes.” Mom goes on her merry way, glad for children who are growing in maturity. UNTIL she goes upstairs to check on another child and happens to see that the bed has not been made. I know what a half-hearted effort looks like, and it was clear that the child had not, in fact, made her bed, as she said (by anyone’s definition of made bed)
So I called her to sit by me, and said, “Did you tell mom that you had made your bed?” Child bursts into tears, and insists she was not lying. She thought she had made her bed, but forgot she hadn’t. I told her this was not possible since she had been awake less than forty minutes. She still insists that she forgot and then explains that she did not lie because she intended to make her bed but got distracted because she could not find her fuzzy blanket (that was in fact, not on the bed in question). She would not admit to lying. I told her that if she believed by this, she was telling the truth, then she was lying to herself (a concept we have discussed before). I asked her if she was loving the truth like a wise woman. She cried and said she didn’t know. I asked if she would be willing to pray and ask God to show her the truth. Normally, she is spiritually sensitive, but that day she did not want to pray and didn’t know why. She got a spanking and then went to make her bed.
This event happened several months ago. I’ve never posted because I still don’t feel good about my approach, and I have no answers to my questions. But, since I need a post, here are my questions for myself.
- How much should I push her, when I’m certain that 1) she lied and 2) she doesn’t think she lied.
- How do I help her not take refuge in “I’m okay because I forgot”? This statement is true enough for her– she does forget and perhaps because I am patient with forgetfulness she’s gotten the idea that there is no correlation between forgetting and disobeying.
- Finally, is it possible I’m completely misunderstanding her personality, and if so, how do I balance kindness with the encouragement of growth? Is the harshness that I feel in retrospect a result of my pushing for repentance when I need to back off and let the Holy Spirit do his job?
- One of the good things about looking backward is that I can remind myself that it is God’s mercies that he uses our feeble attempts to teach our children God’s Word. I am praying that God will give them a passion for the truth, and that the Holy Spirit will help them discern the difference between truth and deception even when I cannot. I can trust God.
In the meantime, maybe we should talk about forgetting verses. They are still asking for silly putty talks.
Question: Find a verse in Psalm 119 about what we should not forget. 🙂
Look up and read:
But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you. Hebrews 13:16-17
But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed James 1:23-25
Question: Does God care if we forget to obey?
Questions: What can we do to remember God’s Word? (obey right away!)
Question: What are the consequences of remembering to be a doer, according to James? (blessings)
Here is the followup to this post, with comments by my mom!