Saturday, November 13, 2010

growing up polite

I did quite a lot of childcare last weekend (if you need a recap, I have two nieces aged 2 and 4). So much childcare, in fact, that I stayed over at my sister's place for the weekend. On Saturday, it rained cats and dogs and so we had to play inside most of the day. By the time their parents got home, the girls were a bit crazy, and Niece-Aged-4 had a few meltdowns in which she was liable to lash out physically at her sister or her parents. After one such meltdown in which she hit her father, she was sent to her room, and a few minutes later she came out to apologise tearfully to Daddy. 'I'm sorry Daddy! I don't want to hit anyone ever again, never!'

Now, I have no doubt that Niece-Aged-4 really, genuinely felt that, but I suspect that she may, at some point in the short-term future, lash out again. The more time I spend with my nieces, the more I love them and appreciate their unique personalities and all their good points, but I also see the seemingly endless battle their parents face with their tempestuous spirits. Trying not to break their spirits, but to teach them. Teach them how to use their manners, how to treat other people with kindness and respect, and how generally to be a member of society. And the funny thing is that the girls themselves want to be kind. They just can't always control themselves.

And neither can I! I've turned out extremely well-behaved. I am hardly ever rude to people, I don't hit or kick people when they won't share their toys with me, and I tend to come across as a polite, fairly likeable person, even if I am a little too shy sometimes. In secret, though, I'm still the same tempestuous child, slowly gaining a little more self-control over myself, but never enough. I often think to myself "I don't want to [sin] ever again, never!" But it doesn't seem to be enough. I do it anyway.

Romans 7:14-25
We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

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