In which the children are rendered speechless...

My son is a Scott Hahn devotee. It's very natural for a 12-year old to admire and seek to emulate successful and talented men, but I never thought my Professor would be hanging on the every word and deed of a Catholic theologian (other than his father, of course)! NOT that I'm complaining. There are no posters of sports heroes or Hollywood stars in his room and I am thankful. I simply never expected that a kid of his age would be walking around the house with an audio Scripture study  tucked under his arm while he begs his mother for the timeline and accessories that accompany it!

His studies have led to some interesting conversations with the family and last night was no exception. Like every kid, he knows how to time these events perfectly so that bedtime is significantly postponed. I'm completely aware every time that he's doing it but he's got my number. I finally have the attentive audience of my dreams! Bedtime drops off the radar. The other kids are always extra attentive as well since making trouble will jolt me back into my motherly senses and earn them a quick trip to bed.

Last night they managed to keep me distracted until after 11:00 pm. Great conversation. At one point, Professor brought up the first chapter of the book of Romans (he had just been listening to Scott Hahn discuss it) and was excitedly explaining something about the early verses. As I made my way through the chapter, my eyes caught something important and I seized a teachable moment...

"Children, listen to what St. Paul has to say about ungodly men:
'...And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a base mind and to improper conduct. They were filled with all manner of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity, they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless...' "
When I came to "disobedient to parents", I paused, emphasized the phrase and then continued. They laughed. Because they thought that I had inserted it of my own accord. They thought I was teasing them. To their ears, it sounded out of place among all those grave evils; kind of like lumping those who take a second helping of cake in with murderers.

We've been over this subject many times but this time they were sitting up straight and listening in earnest.

"Who is it that commands you to honor and obey your parents?"


"So, Who are you really disobeying when you disobey mommy or daddy?"

"God." (This is spoken very quietly and humbly after a lengthy pause)

"Sounds like we aught to be taking this pretty seriously."

*Sincere, silent and vigorous nodding all around.*

Obedience is a constant battle for every family I know. For homeschoolers, it is a more obvious and immediate concern since our very ability to function daily hinges on discipline in the home. We face our disciplinary failures immediately instead of avoiding them until the quarterly report. I am not an excellent disciplinarian because I am not well-disciplined myself. I am disobedient and lazy. I like to sleep in, cast my work aside and stay up later than is good for me. I sometimes imagine how my children will view my failures when they are adults. It hurts my pride to know how many things they could disclose and be right.

But I find courage in these family discussions. It's not about parent vs. child but about a family seeking the will of God together. We are constantly wounding and repenting, forgiving and consoling, weeping and celebrating...together. We are vulnerable here because our faults and weaknesses are clearly known and exposed. We are strong and safe here because we have a bond of love in Christ Jesus.

I know that this new day will bring the same old challenges. Disobedience (in all of us) will once again rear its ugly head. But the consolation of last night, brought by the power of the Word of God,  is still sweet and the courage to begin again is strong. Pressin' on.

Speak to me, 0 my God, let me know Thy will, for behold I am ready to fulfill Thy every command. The difficult, the irksome, I will patiently endure for love of Thee. 
                                                      --St. John Neumann (from his diary)

Posted on February 9, 2010 and filed under "obedience".