Two nights ago as Lucia was tucking in my 12-year old to bed, they had a conversation that Ansa initiated. She was struggling with Haydn doing most of the serving around the house, according to her perspective.
She believed that Haydn was serving too much and that he would not let her serve. Let’s just say that Ansa’s angst is one of those struggles every parent wants their children to have.
Two Acceptable Conflicts
I wrote an article a while back about two acceptable and unresolvable conflicts in your home. One of those “acceptable conflicts” is who is the biggest sinner in our home.
Paul said in 1 Timothy 1:15 that he was the foremost sinner. Then he died, which left a vacancy in the “chief sinner seat.” And as we follow the advice of the Lord by acknowledging the “log in my eye,” it’s apparent that the biggest sinner is me.
Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? … You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. – Matthew 7:3-5
Of course, the way that works out in our home is five people are vying for the chief sinner seat, which is a pleasant problem because if you’re more aware of the log in your eye rather than the other family member’s speck, you minimize familial conflict.
The other “acceptable conflict” is that no one is permitted to “out-serve” another, which is why Ansa has a troubled soul; her brother, from her perspective, is “out-serving” her.
For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. – Mark 10:45
I chatted with her about this yesterday, and then we had a family discussion during dinner. My initial thought was that many kids struggle with who got the most ice cream, or played outside more, or got more device time. It is rare for a child to be struggling because her sibling is out-serving her.
As we talked, two things came to light. One is that Ansa does often serve, though she serves differently than her brother. Haydn is bigger and stronger, and he does different things that Ansa cannot do, e.g., carrying our Panera bread bins to and from the car or mowing the lawn.
But Ansa has been doing the laundry for over a year now! She took it upon herself, without our suggesting it, to do all the laundry while Lucia was going through cancer surgery. Even after Lucia had recovered, Ansa never stopped doing the laundry.
The second thing we discussed is that it would be good to broaden our definition of serving. Not only does Ansa serve differently but she serves in ways that only she can do.
For example, Ansa brings a unique kind of joy to our home. She is a happy child who talks all the time. I can’t imagine life without her joy-filled words. Her happiness does a daddy good. Haydn is a quiet child.
Every night and each morning Ansa comes to me with a hug and four of the most amazing words a dad could ever hear: “I love you, Daddy.” On the rare day that we don’t see each other at the start of our morning, it’s not the same. Ansa is my pep-pill.
She also serves by cooking, confessing her sins, respecting her parents, and making me the best presents for my birthdays and Christmases. The way she serves is a long list, though it’s a different list from Haydn.
My big takeaway from this discussion is that I need to acknowledge more how she serves. I’m so glad she shared her struggle. She served us well by being honest and transparent with her family. She’s helping me to be a better dad.