And then! Oh, the noise! Oh, the Noise!
Noise! Noise! Noise!
That’s one thing he hated! The NOISE! NOISE! NOISE! NOISE!
–Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Kids create noise. Especially if they’re siblings. Especially if there’s more than one of them. And it gets worse as they get bigger. With their big hulking bodies and bigger vocal cords and bigger chaos from bigger conflicts, I just get overwhelmed. Just like the Grinch, I can’t take the noise, noise, noise noise.
And like my co-blogger Grace Biskie, who wrote about The Sibling Battle, I see such striking similarities between my behavior, my husband’s behavior and our kids’. Especially bad behavior. Or annoying behavior.
So they yell just like we yell. They show impatience like we show impatience. They so cannily exhibit that critical Tuan spirit (and mind) that it’s clear all my repenting and asking Jesus for transformation has been in vain.
But God gave me a word of grace through a friend some years ago. Our whole family was at a marriage retreat. During couple time, Scott complained about our kids’ terrible behavior, bickering and general lack of respect. I defended them with, “Well if we could ever stop bickering, treating each other with disrespect, or manage to control our tempers, maybe they could also.”
I shared this during sharing group. Afterwards, an older, wiser, and extremely kind friend pulled me aside. She affirmed my struggle but then said, “I just wanted to say one thing. You do know that even if you were perfect, your kids would still be rotten, don’t you?”
I opened my mouth to argue, but then shut it.
Because she was right.
After all that’s one of the basic tenets the Bible tells us in Genesis 3. The whole creation got broken when Adam and Eve ate the fruit—and we see that brokenness in all relationships, from our relationship with ourselves, to our relationships with one another, to our relationship with God, to our relationship with the physical world itself. The word sin is an archery term, any arrow that doesn’t hit exact center in the bulls eye. With that definition, and how clearly we never hit perfection, it’s easy for me to embrace the concept of original sin. And it sucks.
My friend’s words gave me grace. It’s somehow very reassuring that even if Jesus could transform me into the perfect mother and wife who never argues, criticizes or loses her temper (please Jesus please), my kids would still be rotten to the core. As a responsibility addict, I receive freedom when I realize it’s not my responsibility to produce perfect kids or ensure their perfect relationships. In fact, I’m incapable of controlling them to that degree. Which is why they, like me, need a God who will love them, save them, and walk with them despite their innate depravity. My job is to point the way and do my best, albeit always tainted by imperfection, that nasty trait called sin.
So of course my kids are rotten. Even if they acted like perfect little angels they’d be rotten. Of course neither my husband or I can model perfect behavior. Of course when their noise and our nerves collide it’s pretty miserable to be family together.
Such good news. Even for a Grinch like me.