One evening as our family sat down for dinner at the kitchen table, I decided to record a short video of one of Wyatt’s not-so-great moments. He was crying (he sounded more like a choking cat, to be honest) and flailing around in such a way that it might cause some of you young couples without children to rethink the idea of bringing life into this world.
Perhaps it might not sit well with some parents out there that I chose to record the tantrum. In all fairness to Wyatt (or Mr. Bubby, as I tend to call him), he was coming down with an illness and was definitely not himself. In all fairness to me, this family experiences the temper tantrum stage between three-and-a-half and four-and-a-half years old. Wyatt just turned four – so any ethical ideas for new disciplining techniques are on the table.
Evidently, I chose video.
Several days after the illness passed when Wyatt seemed to be returning to “normal” I decided to show him the episode I’d recorded. The reaction was more effective than I expected.
After staring at in in disbelief for a solid minute and a half – watching it three times to make sure it was really him, he paused, looked right at me and said “Mommy, what was wrong with me?”
I couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow before explaining to him that this was what it looked like when he didn’t obey Mommy and Daddy and when he chose to act out rather than to use the words that would help us help him.
He shriveled his little face up, nearly in tears, and said “I don’t like my bad self.”
I’ll admit that it took some composure not to laugh at his choice of words, but I held it together due to the seriousness of the situation.
I told him that none of us like our “bad selves” and that sometimes it takes the love of a friend or family member to help us understand when our behavior isn’t acceptable.
In big people terms, it’s called accountability.
And I don’t know what’s worse. Receiving accountability or giving accountability.
But there is a problem with this today. We are a society that chooses to be alone far too often. We forget what it’s like to have a sense of community, partially because we don’t like others knowing “our business.” We’re afraid we’ll be judged. Or perhaps we won’t live up to everyone else’s standard of living. So often, we are so consumed with maintaining an image that we refuse the right hand of fellowship that we’re being offered.
This is a mistake. How can we go on giving and receiving accountability when we choose to withdraw ourselves from those who love us enough to hold us accountable? And love us enough to embrace us when we do the same for them?
In the Bible, the “right hand of God” is the very thing that defeated Israel’s enemies. It’s a symbol of strength and dignity. To be included as the “right hand” of any situation holds a sense of honor.
What a marvelous perspective to know that the “right hand of fellowship” is an honor we place in front of those whose hand we grasp!
One of our family’s “life” verses is Proverbs 27:17. The NLT version, I think, says it best by saying “one friend sharpens another.”
How, then, can we not hold accountability in its highest regard? How can we continue to withdraw from those who encourage us to be at our best? Just as I was able to hold my son accountable to his behavior at our table, others can hold me accountable to my behavior at His table.
I encourage those of you who are not engaged in regular Christian fellowship to extend your right hand to others. It is they who encourage the sharpening of our spear of light that pierces through the darkness of this fallen world. Without that, we become dull and ineffective as complacency settles in or bad habits begin to take over our lives.
No one wants to walk this walk alone. No one can walk this walk alone.
And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. (Hebrews 10:25)