Sunday, May 9, 2010

Murderous Thoughts on Mother's Day?

You shall not murder. Exodus 20:13

This is the message you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.
All who hate a brother or sister are murderers.
I John 3: 11 and 15

Being that it’s Mother’s Day, I guess I was expecting a softer start to the morning than to be confronted by the words, “You shall not murder.” So much for flowery, lacey, pinkish sentiments.

You shall not murder. Yes, as a parent, I have sometimes been frustrated enough by one kid’s antics or the other’s that I have muttered to myself, “I swear I’ll kill him.”

I try to reserve that phrase for the truly serious offenses—not for minor infractions like tracking mud across a freshly washed kitchen floor or swigging orange juice directly from the carton or even losing a brand new L.L. Bean winter coat out on the sledding hill. For these sorts of judgment lapses I tend to resort to extremely heavy sighing and head shaking.

No, I only invoke death threats in scenarios that cause me extreme worry and heartbreak. Like the time my pre-schooler wandered away from me in a 2-story department store that opened onto an enormous shopping mall. He had decided to play Hide-And-Go-Seek, but had forgotten to inform me that the game was on. He ducked inside a circular clothing rack laden with skirts, and the only thing that eventually gave away his location was a muted giggle as I searched frantically, calling out his name. In his glee, little did he know the thoughts that ran through my mind—thoughts of him being alone and frightened, thoughts of him climbing on the railing of the second floor concourse high above the first floor fountain, thoughts of him being lured away by a fellow with Tootsie Pops and evil intentions. Of course, when I did discover the child’s hiding place, I was so crazy with relief that I cried and embraced him. I didn’t even come close to killing him.

Neither did I kill either of my children on any of the subsequent occasions when I may have gotten calls from the school principal, or heard from other parents in the neighborhood about some questionable behavior, or on those very late nights when one didn’t arrive home by the agreed upon time and didn’t have the decency to text me. I may have breathed fire at the time, but I still loved them through the fury.

While working out the rules that would be good for humanity, maybe God Our Heavenly Parent was watching what people were up to and, out of frustration and heartbreak, muttered, “I swear I’ll kill them.” Maybe God Our Heavenly Parent deals daily with this attitude. Who knows?! Maybe this particular commandment first came into being as God was working out God’s own parenting skills.

Love your kids today. Love your parents today. Love your God today. And for goodness’ sake, try not to kill anyone.