There are some girls at the bus stop who "annoy" my girls. They aren't mean-spirited or anything. In fact, I suspect that the opposite is true. They probably lean toward the overly-friendly category. When my girls head out to the bus stop, these other young ladies shriek and holler, calling at them to "Hurry up! Come on! Get over here!" And they prattle on (and on and on) until everyone is loaded on the bus in their respective seats (which, much to my girls' relief, are far apart).
This morning, we were having a discussion about being kind to other people. We were talking about why it's important to be patient, even with (or especially with) people who you may find annoying. I explained that I don't think these girls are trying to get on anyone's nerves, and that perhaps all that's needed is a kind and gentle, "Please don't do that. It bothers me."
As the girls headed out the door, I talked to God about the situation and asked for wisdom. Some situations are clear-cut, such as bullying. But others...well, what's a mom to do? To say?
God reminded me of times in my life where I've felt annoyed with others. First I thought of the lady who always gave me advice, every single time she saw me. It was always the same, "Enjoy your children, dear. They grow up so fast." I would smile and nod, all the while thinking about how tired I was of the same old cliches. Then I thought of the "close talker." No matter how many times I took a step back during our conversation, she always ended up so far into my bubble of personal space that I felt her sucking up my oxygen. I empathised with my girls, because it isn't easy to be kind and patient with all people all the time.
Then I recalled some other times I've felt annoyed and shown it. Working in the kitchen, a child crowds in and gets in my path, and I wave my hands around and say, "Get out of my space!" Another child, looking for some attention, makes silly sounds or chatters to no one. I say, "Stop making noise just for the sake of making noise." Just one moment ago, as I typed this post, a child asked me what I'm working on. I said, "Never mind. Just do your jobs."
Conviction falls over me like rain. All the wisdom in the world cannot help me teach my children to forbear with one another if I will not restrain my own impatient and irritated impulses with them.
When I last posted for this series (ironically, on patience), I specifically avoided the word forbearance (as used in the NIV) and went with patience (used in the NLT). I reasoned that it didn't "fit" with where I was headed that day. Perhaps I didn't want to see that what Paul was calling us to was neither patience (as in the opposite of impatience) nor perseverance (as in the opposite of easily giving up), but truly to forbearance.
To forbear is to refrain, restrain yourself, abstain, hold back, or withhold. It is - in spite of one's feelings or instincts - to hold back from acting annoyed, impatient, or frustrated.
I guess my girls aren't the only ones in need of a lesson today. And perhaps, rather than offering them wisdom, it's time I offer them a living example.
For the record, one of these days I'd really like to have some "ah-ha" moments that are solely for teaching. This being convicted about virutually everything I write about, it's getting a wee bit exhausting!