I am not a super mom. I don’t cut out the cute projects I find in parenting magazines. I don’t make the interesting food snacks that look like animals, nor do I use things around the house to make inventive crafts. But I was desperate. So I grabbed the kids, loaded them into the car and drove to Target. I bought the poster board, the ruler, the magic markers, the stickers and a handful of treats. I came home, spread the materials out and did it. I made two Happy Heart Charts. They looked just like the ones I had envisioned when reading an article from Growing Kids God’s Way.
Why was I so desperate? Because I couldn’t stand the whining, pouting and stomping of feet that followed every request I made to my 4 year old twins. While Cooper & Lucy usually ultimately obeyed, it was not without significant drama that ensured I knew that they were not happy about my request.
That afternoon, I sat them down in front of the charts. “I’m proud that you all are learning to obey, but now that you are four, it is time to do something more,” I explained. “When I ask you to do something, I want you to obey right away, all the way, and with a happy heart. When you do this, you get a sticker on the chart. When you get ten stickers, you’ll get to pick a treat.” We walked through lots and lots of examples. We role-played having happy hearts and obeying quickly, and then we pretended to have not so happy hearts and procrastinate. I felt like they actually understood! And ever so slowly, over the next few weeks, I saw a transformation. It took lots of praise and positive reinforcement (and a little negative reinforcement too), but the results were worth it. Oh the joy it brought when I asked for something and heard a cheerful “Yes, Mommy” followed by immediate obedience!!
But I didn’t get to bask in the joy of having obedient children long before the Holy Spirit whispered to me…, “And what about you?” When God impresses something on my heart, do I make excuses? Do I groan inwardly as I agree to help someone in need? Or do I cheerfully exclaim, “Yes, Father”? Am I joyful for the opportunities that God provides….or do I think “Why me?”
I had to think. For me it was a mixed bag. There are times I am genuinely happy to obey. But there are also times where I obey out of duty. Then there are times where I make excuses, grumble, and procrastinate.
Fortunately, I don’t think God keeps a Heavenly Happy Heart Chart. But I do believe it pleases him when we serve him with righteousness, peace and joy (Romans 14:17-18). So the next time I get that little prompting, I will think of the joy that I bring my Father when I not only obey, but do so right away, all the way and with a happy heart.