“Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 (NIV)

I was given an interesting “a-ha” moment this morning. Gracie’s play yard is situated next to our sliding glass door, and there’s been a running battle at our house over control of the curtains. She’s fascinated by them and has occasionally pulled them off their tracks while playing with them.

The curtains, it has been made clear, are taboo. We know that she understands this because, like everything else that off limits to her little hands, she will point to them longingly and say, “Dat’s a no no…”

Still, when given the opportunity (ie: when we’re not watching) she’ll pull the curtains into her play yard (see pic below.)

Now, we have three options…

  1. Move her play area.
  2. Just let her play with the freakin’ curtains.
  3. Train her that even though the curtains are within her reach, she’s not allowed to touch them, because we told her not to.

We’ve opted, unanimously, for option three.

So, today I found this:

curtains

In accordance with our decision, consequences were dealt out and, as it was nap-time anyway, Gracie was put to bed.

Later, (before dealing with the curtains) I was looking at them and I realized that Gracie’s fascination with them hadn’t begun until after she’d been given her cardboard “house” at Christmas.

That’s when it hit me:

  1. Our (mommy & daddy’s) window has curtains
  2. Gracie’s “house” has a window
  3. Gracie’s window doesn’t have a curtain

So, without ascribing unfair omniscience on my part, I began to wonder if her refusal to leave the curtains where they are is not so much a matter of blatant defiance (the outward appearance,) but stems from her desire (her heart) that her window would be like mommy and daddy’s window?

My first reaction was, “Oh man, I feel like such a jerk. All she wanted were some curtains for her window, and I went and punished her!”

Then…I thought some more.

The passage quoted above can be looked at (rightly) several ways, but like the good Protestant that I am, let me interpret it as best suits my current point:

  1. Our actions can be good, but stem from bad intentions, and still be sin.
  2. Our actions can bad, but stem from good intentions, and still be sin.

The universal rule is that, whichever, God knows the truth and renders judgment accordingly, while many of us can (and often do, I’m sure) act out of misjudgment of another’s actions. This is why, as my pastor likes to put it, there will be things in our lives that are “consumed as wood, hay, and stubble,” and we’re going to look at the Lord and say, “Really? I thought that was a good thing!”

Yes, I am responsible for doing my best to ascertain what my child’s intentions were and, when appropriate, granting those desires, BUT, I’m equally responsible for dealing with her “no-nos” so she will learn to be obedient.

So, will Gracie continue to be reprimanded for playing with the curtains?

Yes.

Will she awake this afternoon to find that Dad has fashioned her some curtains for her own little window?

Yes.

And, hopefully, Dad will remember that God knows my intentions as well, and that while He longs to give me what I desire (that’s a whole ‘nuther issue, lol) he still holds me accountable when I choose to disobey and try to go and get it on my own. My intentions should always come in second to my obedience.

Your thoughts?

– Gracie’s Daddy

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