He walked into our bedroom and forcefully set his bundle down on the bed. With his jaw set, and a determined look in his eyes, he turned to me and spoke, “Honey, that’s it. We are getting a new washer.”
The words echoed in my soul and nearly brought a tear of joy to my eye. These were probably the sweetest words he had ever spoken in our almost 30 years of marriage. Was that an angelic choir I heard in the background?
Remarkably, it was the second time my husband had uttered those same words. Less than a year before he had surprised me with a state-of-the art, jumbo capacity, high efficiency, agitator-free, latest model machine. Now on this precious day of ecstasy, he was offering to replace it.
I remember the day when he told me to be watching for the delivery truck. He relayed to me the conversation he had with the appliance store manager. “I need something special for my laundering-for-eleven wife. Give me a large machine that will cut her efforts down to the minimum. Nothing but the best for my queen.”
I had been so touched at his care, and so honored to be among the first to experience this new technological wonder. Then I discovered this machine’s one major drawback. Our clothes were no longer getting clean. I became enmeshed in a laundry nightmare with no end in sight. I bought gallons of stain remover, changed to the most expensive detergent, pre-soaked and pre-rinsed, consulted with repair men, rewashed some loads three times, and hung my clothes to avoid setting of stains. Still I was throwing away clothing left and right. The whole family was miserable, but who was I to complain?
Several times I got so far behind that I snuck out to a laundromat. There, surrounded by the familiar symphony of agitating washers, I set my heart to endure my pain. I figured that our lemon would probably expire about the time my youngest child left for college.
Now do you understand why these were the “sweetest words?” Hope was restored; I would soon be able to get our laundry under control again!
I was so proud of my strong, mature, humble man. I had seen these traits in him before. He looked his purchasing mistake in the eye, and vowed that though we would have to cut back somewhere else, we would have a washer that actually produced clean clothes. He would eat his words (and his cash) and start again. Go back. Reverse plans. He had determined to take the necessary action to recover from this serious error, even though it meant a costly change of direction.
We had learned this same hard lesson in parenting our children. Over the years we have made some dandy wrong turns. Some of them were laughers; a few were devastating—like the error we made in missing the warning signs of our daughter’s sexual abuse with its resulting disaster.
These errors can be costly and humbling. Once we had given our kids permission to watch a certain movie before we had viewed it ourselves. When we watched it on our next date night, we were horrified and shut it down halfway through. “Inappropriate for any audience” was our diagnosis. Then we remembered that we had even let a couple visiting church kids watch it, too. So what did my guy do the next morning? He brought the family together for a meeting to repent of his careless behavior. He apologized with the visiting kids’ family, and he threw the offending flick in the trash.
The lesson learned? In these tough days of Frontline Christian parenting, we must be strong and courageous as we seek God’s wisdom to lead our homes. And when we miss the mark, we must be quick to repent! Our kids can smell inconsistency a mile away. They need us to stand firm in our values and Godly character even when the world goes astray. They need us to be transparent when we handle them wrongly and grieve their hearts. They need us to be humble, even when we suffer temporary loss of reputation.
I hear the sound of our new washer with its old fashioned agitator, and my heart is filled with peace and contentment. Sometimes the old ways—the tried and true ways—are still the best path. Especially if you are going to wash oversized loads for an army of eleven, or if you’re going to raise that army! And when we come face to face with our own failings, we must be willing to change directions.
Our kids need us to be prepared to lead them. We just released our book Kalyn’s Secret: Every Parent’s Battle to Save Their Children to help parents gain the insight they need for parenting today. Join us online at http://www.kalynssecret.com/ to purchase the book. Kalyn’s Secret is also available at online book sellers and local bookstores.
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