My four-year-old is going through another phase too. At first, I thought it was my fault. We recently became foster parents and have brought in two younger siblings. So my four-year-old thinks he can revert to his old ways and act like a two-year-old. But...I spoke with other parents of four-year-olds and found out their kid went through this phase too: The WHINEY Phase. (It's even the inspiration for sites like: reasonsmysoniscrying.com)
On the one hand, it can be pretty funny and hard for my wife and I to contain our laughter at some of the things he Whines about and gets all upset. (In fact, just this morning he started into whining after he got his pajamas off, but before he got dressed: buck-naked and whining.) Usually, he's whining because something's not going his way.
Yesterday afternoon, I had gotten ready to go for a run, and he was going to go out and play in the backyard. He was told to do two things first: go to the bathroom, and get his jacket on. Well, the jacket sleeves wouldn't cooperate and were inside-out. So he started whining. Then I tried to "help" (read "do-it-for-him") and he whined even more because he wanted to do it himself. Well, my patience ran out because I was in a hurry to leave on my run. So I raised my voice (yelled), asking him to stop whining, and he started crying. So I stepped away, counted to 10, came back and actually helped him do it himself instead of doing it for him. Then, I left on my run.
My honest thoughts when I started my run were, "I don't know what to do! I wish he would just stop it! How do I get him to stop?" Well, it took 5.75 miles and lots of other meandering thoughts, but the last quarter mile of my 6-miler, as I turned and could see my house in the distance, the thought occurred to me again: "I don't know what to do." And the light-bulb went off! I thought: "That's it! You don't have to do anything! Just ignore him when he's like that. Show him that acting like that doesn't get the attention he wants. You don't know what to do because the answer is do nothing."
So I got home, and started getting ready for supper. Turns out my son didn't go outside after all, and wasn't even wearing his jacket (figures). It wasn't long before he was whining again (because he needed new pants and didn't want to go upstairs to his room to get them). And this time, I ignored him and let him know that's not how to get help or get what he wants.
So, running...It helps me listen. It helps me have patience. It helps me learn and grow. I just hope I can keep it up.
A couple Sundays ago, I preached to my congregations about how God speaks with us because God desires a relationship with us. Well, listening to God may be simple, but it's not easy. It's downright difficult to hear the truth. Especially when it invites you to change.
Multiple times recently, I've heard God speaking to me through other people, letting my know that I tend to be self-centered, and...dare I use the words...narcissistic, or egotistical. The most recent of which occurred to me while I was reading this comic strip (pictured here) from The Oatmeal: http://theoatmeal.com/comics/running. This is hard to hear as someone who has dedicated one's life to serving others and serving God.
In fact, I think I use that to justify how I operate. Many times in ministry I get this sense that "it has to be me," or "I have to do this because no one else will," or "I have to be the one because I can do this better than anyone else," or "it has to be me because God called me and gave me the gifts to do this way better than anyone else," or "If I can get people to like me, then they'll come to church." And ministry becomes centered around ME.
This breaks my heart, or shatters my perception of myself that has me convinced that I live for others. Basically, it's a big challenge to my world-view. Like when Neo found out that The Matrix was real (or not real, depending on how you look at it).
So now, I have a choice: I can either respond to the invitation to change and center on Christ, or I can keep on deceiving myself and not listen. God speaks, but I'd rather not listen. Especially if I am being asked to change. I liked how things were before I was aware of my faults. But now, now I have to listen and change.
I can still try to find a way out of it. And tell myself that I'm just like everybody else. Because really I'm not that different from many of you, we are all pretty self-centered most of the time. We think the main question is "Why am I here? What's the point of my life?"
In reality, we worry so much about ME that we can miss the great big God and God's wonderful creation there for us to enjoy! I do want to listen, because I do want to change, because I do want to be centered on Christ and changed by God's love. I want to experience the fullness of life God has for us.
God speaks, but will you listen? Even if it's a hard truth? I hope so.
A good number of my friends have shared this article about what we can learn from St. Patrick: http://www.umc.org/news-and-media/what-st-patrick-can-teach-united-methodists. In it, a professor of church history, Jim L. Papandrea, states:
Patrick demonstrated that "we as Christians have something worth sharing, even at great hardship,"
Let me state that again: WE HAVE SOMETHING WORTH SHARING EVEN AT GREAT HARDSHIP. Wow! What a reminder. If you read the rest of the story of St. Patrick, you'll find that he was sold as a slave to people in Ireland, then, years later, he chooses to return to Ireland in order to tell them about Jesus Christ and help them become Christians. In his [Patrick's] mind, he was committed to loving them as God in Christ had first loved him.
What hardship are you willing to face in order to share your faith? Most of the time, I'm too nervous to try. I probably worry about the possible reactions too much. Maybe I have a fear of rejection. Or maybe I'm too busy to try. Or maybe I just assume that I'm such a good follower of Christ it comes naturally without being intentional. What is it for you? The bottom line, they're all excuses not to share this great love that God has shown me.
I want to have a new heart, one committed to sharing my faith regardless of the cost.
I am a Software Developer, a career shift made in 2018. So far, I have experience with C# .Net and Angular. I continue to let curiosity lead me into learning new technologies. I plan to share what I learn along the way about technology and personal/career life. Previously, my vocation was United Methodist pastor. So in addition to coding, I'll share about theology, the Church and The Bible. I also enjoy running, music, and I'm a deeply committed father and husband. Maybe my experiences will help you. I know it helps me to share.