I am a racquetball court.

Here is a little mental image that may be helpful for those of you who have little dinks like I do. I like to think of them as a bunch of little racquetball players and I am the court. They throw things at my walls, or hit them, or otherwise propel them at me, and it is my job to absorb the shock. To take a bad attitude with a lot of spin and turn it into a quiet little ball rolling across the floor. Sometimes it seems like we can get caught up in the game – “you throw that backtalk at me, buster, and it’s gonna come back at you so fast you’re gonna need  protective eye gear” – just to take an example.

This thought is especially helpful for me when all four kiddos are cruising at once. Sometimes it is just a little crazy. I try to think about my own walls. How can I insulate these? How can I be one big muffle for all the fussiness? Can I change the subject? Could we go on a big explore to stomp on chestnuts? Could I just put away the dolls of discord and yell “time for a popcorn party!”

Of course the most important step in all this is to pray for grace and repent of any racquetball throwing of your own. But, as every busy mother knows, it’s not like you can just walk away from the great pb&j debacle to go have a quiet time. In my own experience it usually amounts to  a quick prayer of “Lord, help me absorb” while still in the midst of whatever it was that happened with the coffee grounds.

A very important part of this for me is that my job is not to contain the explosions, it is to end them. When our kids are having trouble fighting about something, we go change the subject. Of course we deal with any outstanding sin, but the attitude can be trickier. It is not about ignoring the sin,  it is about renewing the fellowship.

When I think about my children growing up, I often think about the character that I want to be in their lives. When I have a teenage daughter who is worked up about some problem with a classmate and comes to talk to me, I want her to go away calm. I don’t want to jump on her for any traces of sin that I may see in her attitude, I want to help her abandon them.

So, there it is for what it’s worth, and maybe, just maybe, it will come to mind and help you the next time you find the kids playing in the crisco.

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25 thoughts on “I am a racquetball court.

  1. Thank you. I have three teenagers and I needed to hear that about helping them abandon the sin and not jumping on them. I think the racquetball court applies to the teenage years, too!

  2. Rachel, your mom lead a study once where she touched on not taking personal offence from the sin’s in our little ones. At the time I had a 1 year old and didn’t get it. Years and four children later….I get it. It’s not like they dug into the Crisco to make me unhappy, they just thought it felt good between their fingers. However because we, in our immaturity, are inconvenienced by their immaturities we really can take personal offence if we are not careful to remember who we are to them, we are their teachers. Who else is going to take the time to teach them why it is dangerous to spread the slippery Crisco all over the kitchen floor, as pretty and shiny as it may be. 🙂
    I would say that when we do take offence we loose our sense of direction and become caught up and fall into sinning against our kiddos. But when we remember we are the mom and it is our job to teach in all this, and even have a laugh about it and grab the camera, we are more able to have our wits about us and wisely lead our children away from temptation and sin. Thank God they are so easily side tracks in these tender years.
    Great counsel Rachel, thank you.

  3. Thanks for the exhortation. I am convicted that I have been falling short in this area. Your post encouraged me to raise the bar! I am after my childrens’ hearts, not their behavior. I would love to see a post regarding sibbling squabbling. This is a major issue in our home. Your comment about restoring “the fellowship” is insightful and wise.

  4. I don’t think you could know how much this post helped me today. Thanks so much, Rachel, from Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

  5. That was a good reminder for me today. Helped me calm that frustration with whining, and take my 18 month old outside. (I sometimes feel more overwhelmed that I can be occasionally overwhelmed with only one so far! (ex utero, anyway))

  6. Thanks Rachel, it was very refreshing to read your post. It brought me to tears to think of you and all the other Moms out there who are daily loving and leading little ones. (I have three, 1, 2 and 3 years old). I have been working on not freaking when all three of them freak at the same time but staying calm and actually helping the situation, I think I’ll keep in mind your helpful analogy…..Thanks :o)

  7. Thank you Rachel for a great post. My husband just preached a great sermon on patience as he’s been working through Galatians. Your picture of “absorbing” is perfect. I know I’ve had a tendency to feel irritated or offended by my kids’ misdeeds instead of responding in patience as Christ has to me continually. “Absorbing” the volleys gives me a picture to apply to the real life messes as I seek to have Christ-like character in myself and long for it in my children. Thanks for the encouragement.

  8. This is awesome! At 38 1/2 weeks of a long and difficult pregnancy, I am a very sad absorber at this point. What an encouragement to continue asking God to make me more absorbent…and to continue pursuing it by things like listening to sermons whenever possible, reading bits of Scripture in the cracks of time I have, etc. Thank you!

  9. I heeded the wisdom of your post today when my 2 year old daughter thought opening a sample of paint(not the made-for-kids kind) and pouring it on the kitchen table and herself would be fun. And of course food was cooking on the stove and we were running late for bible study. She probably only opened it because she couldn’t find the Crisco. 😉

  10. I know this is sort of tangential, but that coffee ground bit reminded me of once when we had a huge bag of dogfood and one of those extra big cans of coffee beans from Trader Joe’s….I opened the dog food which was small dark chunks, then the doobell rang.
    It was the Jehovahs’s Witnesses, and as I was talking to them, I turned around just in time to see my 2yr old dump the entire can of coffee beans into the large bag of dogfood and stir it with a toilet brush. Coffe beans and dogfood were indistinquishable one from another, and for weeks, the dogs just spat out dark beans all over floor.
    I was talking about Christ, and it was such a moment of thinking about “what would it look like to walk in faith right now?”

  11. Thank you for your post. I have 4 babies (my oldest is almost 6) and I’ve often wondered if your children fight and fuss and if it sometimes feels pretty crazy at your house, like it sometimes does at mine. I appreciate the admonition to change the subject and not always be jumping on every hint of sin! Great reminder and encouragement.

  12. So obvious you were raised by a wise Mommy yourself, Rachel. This is a great word picture, and quite profound. By the way, do you remember when I left you with my three munchkins, three and under, with no diapers in the house? You handled that one quite brilliantly. :0)

  13. I think we need to hear more of the diaperless munchkins story!

    And Rachel, I agree with all of the other commenters that this is a fabulous image of the high calling of motherhood. And extrapolates pretty well to how we should behave in other relationships, too!

  14. Rachel!

    What a wise mother you are! Mine are grown now, except for one stray 14-year-old and I can tell you, these lessons will serve you well for a LONG time! And Missy, I loved your story. Oh how I miss those days – kind of… Actually motherhood does get better and better as the years go by.

  15. ok…so I am not player,the one with the raquet…hitting the backside of the balls when they (all 4 @ once) come at me….oh! 🙂

  16. So I read this the other day and have been thinking of it often ever since; but today it really sunk in when my 2 year old came to me with my lipstick all over her face, hands, legs, and dress. When I went to survey the damage I found that the bathmat, toilet lid, and white wooden sink vanity were smeared with my whole tube of “terra cotta” lipstick. I took a deep breath, felt much kinship with Albert Peasemarch and started scrubbing. When my 4 year old came in and heard me mumbling to myself she asked, “What do you mean ‘Help me absorb.’ What does absorb mean?”- So thank you for your timely word, my home was more peaceful, content, and beautiful today because of it.

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