Posted by: ramonamom | April 28, 2008

Day of the Toothbrush

Lest we lead you all to believe that we have parenting all figured out, I will share a recent struggle with you.  On the surface, it appeared to have started with a toothbrush.  Not a fancy toothbrush, but one given free at the dentist office.  Although new, it had been thrown in the bathroom trash can and the owner thought this was done out of a mean heart, by a sister who did not like her.  The players here were 1) our firstborn biological daughter who can be quite difficult to get along with and 2) an adopted daughter, who can also be challenging in many ways (both are 17 years old).  Player 1 accused Player 2 (to me, not to her face) of throwing the toothbrush away out of spite, with back up circumstantial evidence being that Player 2 had been ignoring her lately every time Player 1 tried to talk to her at all. 

When confronted, Player 2 admitted throwing said toothbrush away, but claimed she thought it was her old one, although when confronted with the fact that it was a new toothbrush she could not explain this.  Her story was that the cup of toothbrushes had fallen on the floor and then the dog had been near them, so she thought he had touched them.  As she picked them up, she thought one was hers, so she just threw it away as she would never use a toothbrush which the dog had touched.  As a matter of fact, she does not even put her toothbrushes in the same cup as the other girls (ewwww, can’t stand the germs), which brought her statement of thinking that one was hers into question (why would it have been in the cup with the others). 

At this point, I, the mother, tended to believe Player 1’s statement that the toothbrush had been thrown away out of spite.  (Side note: Player 2 has had recent major issues with lying, also.)  Without firm evidence, I would not accuse Player 2 of this action, however, and I determined to pray that if her motives had indeed been out of hatred, God would convict her of this sin and bring her to repentance.  NOTE – Mother’s big mistake (a.k.a SIN): I then shared these thoughts with Player 1 and asked her to also pray for Player 2.  I should have kept these thoughts private and dealt only with Player 2, rather than sharing them with a sibling.  “And if your brother sins, go and reprove him in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.” Matt. 18:15

Player 1 then went to another sister and told her that I did not believe Player 2’s story, thus adding fuel to the flames.  Player 2 overheard this exchange, which understandably made her upset.  Do you see the mess getting stirred up at this point?  A nasty, smelly one, to be sure.  During a gripe session with Player 2, the third sister told her about the conversation with Player 1 (a.k.a. – gossip).   “A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends.” Proverbs 16:28 

Dad and I had another issue to talk to Player 2 about, which turned into more of a confrontation than we would have liked.  It became clear after a few minutes of talking that something else was bothering her, and this turned out to be the toothbrush incident and what she had overheard Player 1 say to the third sister.  I talked with them until 12:30pm, at which point I went to bed.  The conversation continued until 2:00 between Dad and Player 2, though.  When I woke up the next morning, I was very emotional and overwhelmed with feelings.  I was frustrated that I allowed Player 1 to convince me that Player 2 had acted out of spite, I felt betrayed by Player 1 because she told her sister something I had shared with her in confidence,  I was disappointed that the third sister had gossiped, I was confused that my husband had seemingly changed his mind on the matter after I went to bed, I was disappointed that Player 2 had possibly lied to us…  Unfortunately, all it took was a word or two from my husband and then we started arguing.  It was not a pretty sight, considering that we are grown up parents of 11 children who counsel others in regards to parenting issues.  Ugh.  “Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the laps of fools.” Ecc. 7:9

Since I have had brain surgery and sometimes cannot think coherently (a rather lame excuse…) I explained my need to get away and mull over all that had happened, trying to get it straight and determine where my own sin was in the matter.   My husband agreed that this could indeed be helpful, so I went to WalMart and wandered about the store, kinda sorta shopping as I went. 

As I was sitting and eating lunch at Sonic, God began to reveal my sinfulness to me.  Among other sins, I should not have asked Player 1 to pray for Player 2, as it was a thinly veiled way of telling her I thought Player 2 was lying.  I also should have listened to Player 2’s side of the story regarding the other issue we brought up with her more carefully before forming my opinions.  “He who gives an answer before he hears, it is folly and shame to him.” Proverbs 18:3 

I called my husband to check on things at home and discovered that I was still emotional.  Sigh…  I went home and cried some more, as I tried to sort out what the problems were.  I finally determined that I was simply overwhelmed by all of the feelings and emotions of the day, so I went to my computer and wrote them all down.  I then wrote a letter to Player 1 and Player 2, with appropriate apologies and rebukes, as I was much too emotional to talk to them at the time. 

This was a day of painful growing, learning, and teaching, for all of us.  We all sinned and we all repented and asked for forgiveness – some of us more than once.  Heart issues were brought out into the open and we discussed the dislike these two daughters have for each other.  Player 2 admitted that she had not been paying attention when Player 1 spoke to her, but explained that she was doing that in order to avoid being angry at her.  Player 1 realized that she was being unreasonable and hypocritical in her actions.  Both sisters agreed that they did actually care for one another, but they struggled to get along with each other on a daily basis.

In the end, this was not at all about a toothbrush.  Rather, God used a simple item like that to expose the heart issues which these two sister were challenged with.  We rejoice in small adversities such as these, as they give us opportunities to see the sins in our lives and deal with them before they grow to massive proportions. “In this you greatly rejoice, thought now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”  I Peter 1:6-7 



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