Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Long suffering--even during summer vacation

For the past week and a half since school got out, I have found myself getting more and more snippety every day.

I think it’s having so many bodies home again all the time. It’s that many more children leaving messes and dragging their feet about breakfast chores. It’s that many more people making food, again, and leaving their 3rd cup on the counter, half-way full of milk.

I think it’s also that we aren’t keeping our regular routine, which means there is a lot more playing going on. That means a lot more toys not put away. And a lot more books, and blankets, and shoes, left right where the person had been lying for hours reading. And a lot more distractions when the time comes to stop playing and get a few things done.

I find myself wandering through the house wondering why I am the one working so much, with all these kids around me vacationing.

Actually, there are lots of fun things about summer, too--things like movies and play dates and blogging at 8 am on a Tuesday.

But the irritating things are making me tense. So I have been a little snippety.

Then I read this scripture. 1 Nephi 19:9 And the world shall judge him to be a thing of naught; wherefore they scourge him, and he suffereth it, and they smite him, and he suffereth it. Yea, they spit upon him, and he suffereth it, because of his loving kindness and long-suffering towards the children of men.

The words that really jumped out at me were long-suffering. What does it mean to be long suffering like the Savior?

Well, using the example given in the scripture, it at least means to show submissiveness and patience, even with those who hate us and want to kill us and do terrible things to us. It means putting up with hard things because of love. It also means seeing a greater purpose in the suffering, and thus being willing to suffer long. In the Savior's case, He was suffering these things because He knew He needed to give up His life in order for all of Heavenly Father's children to receive eternal life and to be given the opportunity to live with Him again.


Maybe long-suffering for me could mean showing the children a little more patience and loving kindness right now, especially since my children actually love me and don't mean to be doing irritating things .

Maybe it means using a nice voice--not a voice laced with irritation and impatience--to ask them do the things I need them to do.

Maybe it means overlooking some of the things they aren't doing just right, giving them the benefit of the doubt that it's vacation and that everyone is tired from a long school year.

Maybe it means trying to overlook the negative and instead focus on the positive things they are doing. They are playing nicely together. Other than that first day, there has been very little fighting, especially when you consider the very depressing and unusually rainy and overcast weather. Several children have school work that has to be done over the summer, or ACT prep, and they are doing it mostly without complaint. When they do forget to do something, and I ask them to come clean up or finish their chore, or whatever, they most often do it cheerfully.

Yes, there are plenty of good things I am not noticing that could be pointed out.

Speaking of seeing things with greater purpose, the great purpose of summer break is to give children some time off from the intense school year schedule (not to mention the teachers.) It also gives families some much needed time together. So I suppose the good always comes with some challenges. In this case, it's more bodies. And more mess. And more thoughtlessness in the face of wanting to get on with the business of having fun. Since it's all for such a good reason, I guess I can try to be a little more patient with it.

So my goal for the rest of the summer is to be more long-suffering, and to show more loving kindness. I'm also going to try to look at the positive and keep the negative to myself as much as possible. I'm going to try to overlook the more obvious mess and enjoy being together as a famlily. And I'm going to keep "I'm sorry for snapping at you" right on the tip of my tongue. Because, let's face it, they all have to learn some long-suffering and loving kindness, too.