So my son and I were in a somewhat heated argument this morning. Instead of getting himself dressed promptly, he chose to partially clothe himself, and then sit and read a Star Wars book. Then, when I rebuked him for it, and noted that he spent fifteen minutes reading when he should have been getting dressed, he not only wanted me to give him "reading credit" for school, but he claimed that he couldn't find any socks, and accused me of being too harsh and controlling.
Ultimately, his argument was something like this: You didn't provide me with the socks I needed to get dressed. I should get credit for having done something good with my time anyway. Along with his argument was the notion that he wanted to prove to his father and me that he is capable of taking care of himself and that he doesn't need me to stand around and tell him what to do or control his life. The fact that I had showed up and was holding him accountable for his actions angered him because I "wasn't giving him a chance to prove himself."
In the back of my mind, I knew that he wasn't going to find the clean socks he was looking for anyway. (They were in the washing machine.) And I felt pity for him because he had made such a wreck of a perfectly good morning and he was just making it worse for himself by the minute, not to mention destroying our fellowship with one another. I even offered to him a clean pair of his father's socks, and as I gave them to him, I challenged him to "try to walk in his father's footsteps." He became even more angry, at which point I rescinded my offer. And then I began to preach to him.
He wanted to prove that he was manly enough to take care of himself, but in reality he had just proven the opposite by having squandered his time and then blamed others for his problems. He thought he would be able to find clean socks on his own. I told him that if he found any socks, they would be dirty. If he wore the dirty socks, he would be mad at me and blame me the whole time he wore them, even though I offered him a perfectly clean pair of socks. He was unwilling to accept the help he needed in humility, because by doing so, it would be admitting that he needed help and couldn't get dressed on his own. He needed to forsake this notion that he could do anything to really help himself. He needed to recognize his need for grace and mercy, and accept it with gladness, knowing that he really deserved harsh punishment for having disobeyed (by not getting dressed earlier). A real man admits his weaknesses and looks to the Lord to rescue him from an impossible situation. A real man forsakes the foolish notion of trying to prove to people that he's good at anything, and instead recognizes that any good he does is a result of God's goodness and mercy shown to him. And a real man accepts God's gift of grace, wears it with gratitude, and walks in a manner that shows his appreciation for such undeserved favor.
His arguing had stopped. His anger had lessened. He was listening. And then I told him if he wanted the socks, he needed to ask for them. Which he did. My only hope is that the deeper message is sinking in to his heart.