GUEST POST by Samantha Kreiger. Today we welcome a friend, mother-of-four, and committed Jesus-follower to guest post for me on here. Samantha’s words are a good reminder for us all as we love the children in our lives.
My husband and I rushed out the door like scrambling chicks to drop the kids off at their check-in time at camp. Signing the kids up for a week-long day camp after 4th of July late-night fireworks may not have been wise, but who wants to listen to kids fighting over the game controller all summer long?
After a smooth drop-off, running errands, and hosting our neighbors for sub sandwich lunch, 5:00 pm pick-up came fast.
The kids shuffled into our suburban and the first words out of their mouths were, “It was so-o-o boring Mom! . . . Don’t take us there again . . . Why did you sign us up? . . . We barely had time to eat our lunch.”
Their hearts throbbed with ingratitude, and my head throbbed in annoyance.
I thought, who in the world am I raising?
I knew they felt overtired, exhausted, and hungry, but their constant whining discouraged me—not to mention we spent a pretty penny on camp. My husband rolled his eyes and called in Dominos for dinner.
Embrace Teachable Moments
On our ride home, I thought about how to handle my kids’ discontent with day one. How could I make this a teachable moment?
I told the kids they needed to adjust their attitude. I then talked about the people there at camp:
“Well, I guess if you’re bored, then you need to focus on your relationships.
Did you make a friend?
Who were you kind to?
How can you be a good friend to someone who seems lonely?
Did you enjoy getting to know your counselor?”
They replied with comparing this camp to their old camp before we moved. That camp had chestnut-colored horses and fast four-wheelers.
“Well kids, this is not the country anymore. We’re in the city. You were spoiled!”
Fight the Spiritual Battle & Don’t Lose Hope
After the dinner and bedtime routine, I prayed they’d begin to enjoy their time and focus on new friendships. Parents want their kids to grow and have fun in the summer. Why the constant tug-of-war?
Then I remembered the Enemy hates community. He rather us sulk and stay isolated. The issue was not just that the kids were bored. It wasn’t just that they were exhausted. Satan didn’t want them enjoying abundant life in Christ—he didn’t want them to find joy in knowing others and His word during the week at camp.
So I prayed more. We fight the spiritual battle through prayer and I sensed more going on than ungrateful attitudes.
Love Hard on People
On day two of camp, two of my kids dressed themselves and walked through their morning routine without a bribe or petition. All of them rode home chatty and smiling about the friends they made. My 12-year-old exchanged numbers with his friends. My 10-year-old talked about funny stories her counselor shared around circle time.
They began to value the people God put at camp with them. We made progress, thank goodness. It reminded me of these verses:
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”– Matthew 27:37-40
Love the Lord with all you’ve got. Then, go love hard on other people. His commands are not burdensome and complicated as we often make them out to be.
Truth is, our children look for fulfillment and purpose just like us. They won’t find it in focusing on themselves. They won’t find it by complaining. They won’t be satisfied with a program alone. But, they absolutely will find fulfillment and purpose in loving God and their neighbor.
When you—or your kids—feel like complaining, let’s look around and value the people in our day. Loving our neighbor sometimes helps us to love God better.
Let it begin with me.
Samantha Krieger is a wife, mom, and author writing from Florida’s gulf coast. She’s the author of Quiet Time: A 30-day Devotional Retreat for Moms in the Trenches. Her writing appears regularly on Her View From Home, TODAY Parenting, and For the Family. She starts her mornings with coffee and mascara. Connect with her on her blog, Instagram and Facebook.