“Can I have a play date?”
That seems to be the question most commonly asked when I pick my son up from school. The cold temperatures and unprecedented snow have kept him cooped up inside most of the winter. It’s understandable that he’d like a friend to come over to break up the monotony. This particular day my response to his question…“No”.
He knew this was going to be my answer because we talked about it earlier in the morning. There were a few things that I needed to do that afternoon. I planned to pick up his sisters, head to the grocery store, and get homework done at a reasonable hour. My little guy was not happy.
Later that evening I sat down with my son to look over his homework. It was little sloppy, some things needed to be corrected. I asked him to read the directions to me; he refused. I suggested he re-write a few of his answers so they were legible; he resisted. There was anger, followed by tears, and eventually a timeout. He struggled to control himself and blamed everything wrong on me.
What should've taken 10 minutes took 40.
Later that evening, as I tucked him my little guy into bed there were hugs and kisses. I realized there might have been more bothering him then just not wanting to do his homework. We talked about ways he could control himself like counting to ten, taking deep breaths, and taking a time out on his own.
My mind wandered to some trouble we have been having in our bathroom.
For weeks now our showerhead has leaked. Drip by drip water fills the bucket below; at first it’s steady loud and then soften as the bucket fills. Once the water reaches the top it’s time to empty it. I have to use two hands to lift the bucket because it’s so heavy.
Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never letthe righteous be shaken. Psalm 55:22
The word cast means to throw something in a specific direction with force. Just like the bucket of water in my shower, sometimes my cares seem too weighty to throw God’s way. Drip by drip, I’ve let worry, care and frustration build over time and fill me to capacity. My heart gets heavy. Then in my own strength I try to lift the burden.
I thought this might be what was happening with my boy. It seemed as though little disappointments had built up throughout the day. He collected them up, one after another, until he couldn’t take it anymore. I explained that he could talk to God throughout the day, tell Him what’s bothering him. By doing this he could prevent the ugly from building up and becoming too heavy.
It seemed there was a lesson for both of us that day. ‘Handling our situation’ or ‘practicing self control’ isn’t about pretending everything is okay, putting a smile on our face, and trying to be good.
Strength and grace to handle our situation is received as we continually empty our bucket, not allowing it to fill to the top.
I am so thankful that the conversations I have with my Heavenly Father need not be confined to Sunday afternoons, meal times or bedtimes. The next time something bothers me I can simply use the prompt to worry as an opportunity to bring God’s attention to the matter. I can let him know what I was thinking, ask for guidance, and invite Him in.
What are the things you do that prevent ‘your bucket’ from getting too heavy?