Nobody likes watching temper tantrums. A squalling public display can induce even a staunch non-spanker to mumble under their breath, “That kid needs a good spanking!”
Tiny tyrants (ours or others) affect shopping trips, restaurant dinners, family reunions, and movies. Even Sunday morning worship can induce fervent prayer.
“Help that mom discipline her kid!”
“Make that kid quit crying!”
“Lord, help me
not turn around and kick love that kid who won’t stop kicking my chair.”
When it’s your beloved child the frustration can be overwhelming, because the tantrum is usually disproportionate to the problem. You fed them a balanced lunch, they napped well, and they have their bankie, their nukie and their favorite stuffie. The parenting planets have aligned and your kid is still not happy.
We don’t like our kids to be bratty; we love them enough to deal with their tantrums.
Parents deal with tantrums differently. At the grocery store, some pick up the howling kid, leave the cart, and go home. Others open food in the store and feed their child. Some berate, some hold, some watch patiently when the child is thrashing around in the cereal aisle. There’s no right or wrong, each parent knows what’s best for them and their child at that moment. And if they don’t know this time, they’ll know next time. Or the time after that.
Because they’ll always be a next time.
The most critical can be the blessed single people who have no experience in child-rearing and the blessed aged people whose memory has delightfully erased all the horrors of parenthood and replaced their children with mythically perfect children.
Experienced spectators watch bratty behavior with sympathy and empathy. They know the little one may be tired or hungry. Special needs kids can lose it over bright lights or a misbehaving zipper. Yes, these are valid triggers. If a family is experiencing a divorce, financial issue, death, or health issue, all we might see is the child yelling, stomping their feet, or hitting their mother.
A tantrum indicates pain, not a pain-in-the-butt.
A tantrum indicates a bad situation, not a bad parent.
Gracious spectators become a part of the solution. They offer an encouraging smile, a soft touch on the sleeve, or a kind verbal affirmation to soothe the battle-weary parent and help them make it through the day. Or at least make it out of the store.
But, the brattiest kids are God’s kids.
Christians are old enough to know better and have an entire book of promises we don’t always believe, yet we can end up acting like our kids. We might not throw things and stomp our feet, but inwardly we want to.
The Heavenly Father doesn’t want His kids to be bratty, He loves them enough to deal with their temper-tantrums by using the Bible and other believers. He knows what to do to to bring us back into fellowship with Him, and already knows what He’s going to do the next time.
Because there’s always a next time.
Those most critical of bratty Christians haven’t experienced that type of suffering, or have forgotten what it is like to be in the throes of the Refiner’s fire. They criticize the wrong reaction without acknowledging the circumstances. They can inflict further pain on the beloved one who hasn’t figured out how to walk in faith with newly-ignited flames singeing their feet.
Experienced Christians react with sympathy and empathy. They know others are tired and need rest from the daily grind or constant trials. They might be hungry for fellowship. If a family is experiencing a divorce, financial issue, death, or health issue, all we might see is the Christian withdrawing and being “rude.”
Christians can be unthankful for a blessing, because they wanted a different one. We pray for a stamp of approval to our plans, instead of asking for His plans about ~
Job. Vacation. Promotion. Illness cure. House. Car. Relationship. Death. Children.
We fuss when we hear “No.”
We quit praying because God didn’t answer the way we wanted. We withdraw from fellowship with Christians who appear on Sunday to have perfect little lives with their perfect little families. We’re intimidated because we think we’re the only struggling one, so avoid intimacy.
A tantrum indicates pain, not a pain-in-the-butt.
A tantrum indicates a bad situation, not a bad Christian.
Gracious Christians become a part of the solution. They might help remove you from the situation. They’ll feed your soul from the Word of God. A gentle chastisement will be filled with words of wisdom and love. Arms will hold you with no words offered. They huddle beside you on the floor and let you blow off steam. They listen to you wail and cry because you didn’t get your own way.
To keep us from complaining or overreacting, the Lord does what good parents of bratty kids do, He keeps His plans a secret.
If you knew at 15 who you were going to marry, would you be able to keep from sabotaging the relationship? If you knew you’d be diagnosed with cancer in two years, would you get out of bed each morning? Would you puff up with pride if He revealed an upcoming blessing, thinking you deserved it?
The Christian life isn’t a pre-planned guided tour, it’s a walk of faith. The Lord doesn’t tell us where the journey will take us, His Word tells us how to travel. He abides with us, whether on a trip to the dentist or Disneyland.
All of us have had times where putting one foot in front of the other seems impossible. We don’t want to go on. Loving help and encouragement can make all the difference in the world.
Nobody likes watching a temper tantrum, but everyone can become part of the solution.