The door between our garage and mud room opened. Our daughter was home. My wife and I were planted on the sofa when the door opened. But, this was not a typical return home. “I had an accident” were the words she blurted out in rapid fire succession accompanied by high volume and many tears. I’m not always quick on the uptake but I did that it wasn’t likely a serious accident since she had not been escorted into our home by an officer.
The words began to form over my tongue. They quickly spilled forward into the cavity of my mouth and were being arranged for a volcanic spewing. “AN ACCIDENT”…”WHY CAN’T YOU BE MORE CAREFUL”…”YOU WON’T BE DRIVING UNTIL YOU’RE 25”. They were forming easily and furiously. Then, a wonder of God took place. The Spirit of the Lord gave me a peace and nearly audible instruction to wait before speaking. James 1:19-20 flooded my mind and I became “quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”
The words that had formed in my mouth began retreating in single file back to the deep dark cavern from where they had come. My mouth was empty and my ears and eyes fixed on my sobbing daughter. God’s Spirit, not mine, was in control. She proceeded to tell us, between sobs, that it was a minor accident. She bumped into a car while backing out of a parking slot. Sue gently caressed her and hugged her. I sat there wondering what to say.
It was one of those moments I refer to as M3, a Memory Making Moment. It’s in those moments you make memories of joy or of harm. All I could do was go into the kitchen, turn her toward me, embrace her and tell her how much I loved her, was glad she wasn’t hurt and “these things happen…that’s why they call them accidents.” She melted in my arms and like a little child who is comforted, her sobbing subsided and she was soon calm.
Dads, I wish I could tell you that it was my ability to be discerning about what my daughter needed. Too often, I have given in to the fleshly impulses. There are times when a stern word or disciplining action is required. However, there have been many times when my daughter just needed to know I cared more for her than about what she did. The verse in James and this verse in Ephesians swelled in my heart, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” It’s powerful when we follow the plans God has for us and we choose to live according to His words, not ours. We’ll have many M3 moments with our children. And, our words will often be the key to forming memories in our children of joy or of pain. So, dad, it might be a day for you to “not say it”.
SOUND OFF: When have you experienced an M3 moment where you could have made a lasting memory of joy or of pain in your child’s life and you allowed God’s Spirit to move in your heart to make it one of joy?