I took the kids to the park the other day. It was gorgeous outside. As I sat there on the bench, Safia came racing towards me, notifying me that Elijah had fallen and a thorn had gone into his skin.
Behind her, Elijah hobbled slowly onto the bench for me to see. He was not quite in tears, but very close. It was not quite like a splinter, which wedges sideways into the skin. Instead, it was a little thicker piece of wood, poking directly out of his knee.
I ask him if he would like for me to remove it…
“NO! It hurts!”
“Do you want to take it out yourself?”
“NO! It hurts too much. It’s going to bleed.” Now he’s really getting dramatic about it.
So, he doesn’t want me to remove it and he doesn’t want to do it himself.
At this point, I would have distracted him and then pulled it out, but suddenly this moment of wisdom popped in my head.
Let him choose when he’s ready to remove it.
So, I tell him to let me know when he wants to take it out. He turns his body away from me to face away and stares down at his knee, whimpering still. Since we really believe in the power of prayer, even for small things, I put my hand on his back and pray for God to give him courage and strength to remove it.
Within 15 seconds, he turns back to me and gives me a nod.
“Go ahead. You can take it out,” he said.
“Are you sure?”
He nods again.
He places his knee close to me and turns his head to look away and I quickly take it out.
He stares down at it for a few seconds and within another few seconds, he is up playing with his sister again.
Learning experience: When people make their own decisions for their lives, it goes a lot further then when you make it for them. That’s one reason God gives us a free will.
A ready and invested heart is much better that a manipulated and forced heart.
That’s why the alcoholic has to decide to quit. It’s a heart decision. It’s a personal choice to make a change.
That’s why the spouse can’t be manipulated and nagged to change. It must come from a genuine desire to see things be better.
Taking personal responsibility is liberating and it resonates with us much more powerfully.
I really believe that because I allowed Elijah to decide when he was ready for that thorn to be out, he will be braver the next time something like that happens. He will have more confidence in himself, and he will remember that he had the courage to do it before, and it really wasn’t as bad as he thought it would be.
That is actually a very cool growing experience! It is something he couldn’t have gotten had I not let him make the decision to take the thorn out!