She really didn’t want to go. In fact, Kylie had been counting the hours until she could return home - even before she'd stepped one foot outside the house.
Quite honestly, the simple fact is that my daughter just isn’t into the whole camping scene.
Mind you, there have been a few of these “let’s all come together and bond” experiences in the past where the fun and fellowship of the group has managed to outweigh the unpleasant combination of uncomfortable beds, excessive physical activity, bad food, floaty bits in the drinking water and minimal facilities for personal hygiene. However, as a general rule, Kylie’s motto has always been, “If it hasn’t got four stars, private bathrooms and those little free packets of *biscuits, soap and shampoo, I’m not interested!”
What can I say? She’s her Mother’s daughter.
Anyway, back to Kylie and her half-hearted interest in the impending Year 12 School Camp.
Over the week leading up to the big event, it had been fairly obvious that my daughter’s reluctance to attend this annual ritual had been steadily growing in size and momentum. Even though Kylie had actually enjoyed the Year 11 Camp the previous year, this time it just seemed more like an annoying, unavoidable inconvenience to the otherwise smooth flow of her life.
By the time the day actually arrived, Kylie’s lack of enthusiasm was more than apparent and her mood had become a tad on the grouchy side. In fact, her emotional barometer that morning was clearly indicating that her normally sunny disposition was rapidly disappearing and storm clouds were definitely brewing just over the horizon.
Unfortunately, only minutes before it was time to leave home, Kylie’s rain clouds came rolling in, along with a good dose of thunder and lightning. As we rushed to get everything ready, “Cyclone Kylie” hit, sending a stinging verbal “lightning bolt” in my direction!
To be honest, I can’t even remember what had caused the little zap to be aimed my way, but these short lived and very minor zingers had been increasing daily in direct proportion to Kylie’s decreasing lack of zeal for the upcoming camp.
Because I truly did understand why it was happening, I’d made every effort to not start throwing fuel around when my not so happy girl started to emit sparks! Over the years I’ve learnt that there are some battles worth fighting, but there are also some momentary skirmishes which are best left to die down of their own accord. This was definitely one of those occasions, but this time I allowed tiredness to rule my emotions, threw wisdom to the wind and went on the defensive.
Basically, I told her off.
Basically, she reacted.
Basically, we both ended up sulking.
Amazingly enough, it was my 15 year old son, Matthew, (usually the instigator of most of the “firework” displays in the Porter house) who had the sensitivity to whisper as I walked into his bedroom, “Mum, don’t say anything else. Not with her going away and everything.”
Of course, he was right; although I did wonder whether he would have been quite so understanding if he hadn’t been about to enjoy a three-day hiatus from his big sister.
As we left home that morning for the trip to school, there was a quite obvious coolness in the air. We weren’t exactly angry or even irritable with one another; however there definitely was a small rift in our normally very comfortable relationship.
Ten minutes later, as I offered to help Kylie carry her suitcase and sleeping bag over to where her friends were waiting, she surprised me by brushing aside my assistance with the reassurance that Matt would help her.
This was news to Matthew, who had no desire, whatsoever, to be seen carrying his sister’s sleeping bag or any other paraphernalia around the school.
It was then that Kylie’s friend, Liz, walked over to the car and so, with another assurance from my daughter that she could manage on her own, we said our goodbyes and then headed our separate ways.
I nearly cried.
Kylie had always been more than happy to have a helping hand with baggage at times like this. The refusal, even though probably made with the best of intentions, left me feeling as though a hand had just given my heart a quick, painful squeeze.
Driving home it felt as though a little “cloud” was hovering over my head. It wasn’t a storm cloud this time, but rather a drippy little grey one that made me feel miserable.
How could I possibly last three days without setting things right between us? The more I thought about it, the more that little “cloud” dripped!
It was an hour before I realised that there was actually a very easy way to make contact. Thanking God for the wonder of technology, I ran to my handbag, grabbed my **mobile phone and started typing in a message. Before I’d tapped in more than a couple of letters, my phone began to beep.
Without even looking, I knew who the text message would be from; and sure enough, I was right. Kylie's message simply said, “Hi Mummy. I luv u.”
Tears sprang to my eyes as I read those five words. Instantly the little “cloud” disintegrated and sunshine came streaming back into my soul.
The message I sent back was about how “great minds think alike”, and that I loved her and was sorry for being so cross that morning.
Minutes later, another cheery, “Beep! Beep!” sounded on my phone, announcing the arrival across the airwaves of another message from Kylie. With an apology from her as well, everything was set back as it should be and we both had peace of heart once more.
As has happened so many times throughout my life, I was reminded yet again of the wisdom of the Apostle Paul’s statement:
Little resentments can quickly turn into big issues if we allow them to brew and fester within us for any length of time. Before long, the original complaint is joined by an extensive and historically significant list of other offences, which only adds fuel to our already combustible sense of self righteousness.
And what does such an attitude gain for us? Absolutely nothing positive, that’s for sure! In fact, Paul continues on in the next verse by saying, “and do not give the devil a foothold.”
When we hold onto resentment, bitterness, anger and unforgiveness, we automatically open wide the door to the enemy, giving him access to our previously “off limits” lives. His desire is to divide and conquer; and there’s nothing he loves more than to do just that in Christian families and relationships.
As Christian men and women, we need to be willing to lay down our self righteousness and instead, pick up the righteousness that is ours in Christ alone. When we do that, we’ll be able to see that it’s only by the grace of God and the sacrifice of our Lord, that we have any righteousness at all. From that place of humility, it’s actually very easy to extend a hand of peace and love.
From that place of surrender will always come the strength of character to be a sunset peacemaker.
* A biscuit is a cookie.
** A Mobile Phone is a Cell Phone
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