Originally written and posted in 2007.
Actually, I think little children are more like magnifying glasses than mirrors. I have been truly amazed, startled, and ashamed as it has become more and more clear to me that the attitude and behavior problems my children display is only a childish mimicry of my own attitude and behavior problems, which, because I am a skilled and practiced sinner, are more concealed than the blatant sins of a small child. Now, I do not believe that all our problems are nurtured, are taught, and if a perfect mother could be had then a perfect child could be raised. No, the problem is deeper than that. A deeper magic. We are all born in sin, born to sin, born enslaved to sin, ever since the first man sinned until another Man, born to a sinful but faithful mother, was perfect and died to defeat Death.
Still, though the nature inherently tends toward sin, the outworking of that tendency might be learned, will be shaped.
So, I see Hans blurt loud noises without provocation or context. Suddenly, I see myself, intent upon my own thoughts or projects, not paying attention to the context of the boys’ interactions and suddenly — because their noise or frustration level with one another overreaches my patience — cut in on them and dispense underinformed “justice.”
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.
So, I see Hans pushing past Jaeger in the hallway, asserting himself before his brother. I hear him pronouncing that he is to be first — to be fed, to be dressed, to whatever. I feel him push past me in the hallway! Suddenly, the next day or the next hour, I see myself, standing flush with Hans at a doorway, assert myself first. Well, shouldn’t I go first? I am the mother. I am the oldest. I am the authority.
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
So, I see Hans complain and moan and burst into tears when he is crossed. Then, I notice myself. Perhaps my actions appear even-tempered whether my attitude is good or not, so I think that I am fine. But children can sense what lays beneath and that is what they copy. It is not my behavior I need to modify, it is my very heart that must be modified by Someone else, daily, hourly, every minute of every day.