“To answer before listening – that is folly and shame.” Proverbs 18:13 NIV
In the early 80’s shortly after Becky (our #3) was born, we needed more room and moved to a large house with magnificent trees in the front and back yard, perfect for our girls to climb in! All was great until the first cold snap hit. Overnight, the entire block was covered with a thick blanket of fallen leaves. Autumn had arrived. Within the next couple of days, everyone in the neighborhood had their leaves raked and bagged…except for us.
Time was the issue. Grant had a lot of irons in the fire. He worked full-time at Texas Instruments, rode his bicycle dozens of miles each week, hunted, coached girl’s softball, taught 8th grade Sunday School and attended night classes at McMurry University. There weren’t enough hours in his day or days in his week.
I’d just finished feeding the kids supper one evening when the doorbell rang. Grant was at school. An elderly man from down the street (the one with the immaculate lawn) politely introduced himself and asked when I thought we’d get around to raking our leaves. I was quite embarrassed. Apologetically I described how busy my husband was and promised we’d take care of it as soon as possible. When Grant got home and heard what had happened, he went outside in the dark and attacked the leaves with his mulch mower. Soon the yard was spotless, but that didn’t help me. I felt humiliated.
The next morning our doorbell rang again and the same little man stood at my door. “Where did your leaves go?” he asked. I was certain he’d be impressed as I bragged about Grant’s late night yard work, but there was an unexpected look of disappointment on his face. Shaking his head, he explained that he had hoped to use our leaves as mulch in his vegetable garden to protect it from the winter cold. That is why he’s asked about them. I’d gotten all worked up over nothing.
It’s a funny story with the joke being on me for jumping to conclusions and assuming the worst. However the experience provided an invaluable lesson to me as a parent. I learned things weren’t always what they seem, and you should never make accusations without gathering all the facts, especially when it’s your children. They depend on you to be their advocate and protector. Sometimes that’s easy to say and hard to do, but it’s so very important!
Look for the best in your children. Give them the benefit of the doubt by listening to their side of the story instead of first telling them what you think they did. Even if they turn out to be guilty, your attitude and approach will put you in a much better position to respond in love instead of reacting to the situation and to them. More importantly, it will save you from hurting their feelings by falsely accusing them when they are innocent.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help me treat my children and others fairly. Grant me the wisdom to listen, ask questions and learn the facts instead of casting quick judgement. Teach me to expect the best and look for the good in all circumstances. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.