Compromise. In some circumstances, compromise is a sign of great maturity and strength of character. In some instances, compromise is a sign of weakness. In my life, it’s been both.
When we adopted our sons, they were not infants. At four and two, Martin and Steven learned to follow rules quickly and they were fairly obedient children. They were absolute joys to spend time with and we felt so blessed. Children from foster care often have trouble adjusting and most of them have attachment disorders and problems bonding. We had none of that. Kelly and I raised them to be diplomatic. They shared a bedroom, so they had to learn to compromise about a lot of things. We were so proud of our parenting. We puffed up like blowfish when someone would remark about how well-behaved Martin and Steven were. So prideful! Remember pride — read “the devil” — comes before a fall! (see Proverbs 16:18)
Then they became teenagers. Regular ordinary teenagers who liked to be in their rooms for long stretches of time. Regular teenagers who were a little mouthy at times. Regular teenagers who acted like chores were a form of punishment borrowed from a P.O.W. camp. In other words, they were regular teenagers.
For the most part, we made good decisions for Martin and Steven. It’s not that we didn’t get along or that they were completely out-of control, but Kelly and I missed the closeness we’d shared with them during their childhood. Gone were the goodnight hugs and kisses. (In their place came silences or occasional grunts of acknowledgement.) Gone were the mostly cooperative boys who loved sharing a bedroom. (They each got their own room when they were about 14 and 12 as a way to keep peace.) Gone was the gratitude for anything we did for them. (In came sullenness, shrugs, and bouts of mouthiness.) I became very depressed over the change in our relationships. I forgot that it’s an unfortunate rite of passage for some teens. I even forgot how defiant I had been with my own parents. (Remember that failed marriage of mine? Totally defiant, sneaky, and disobedient with no apologies!)
Kelly and I wanted to recapture those balanced relationships with Martin and Steven…so we compromised. We let them get away with things that we’d never allowed before (back talk, poor grades, not doing chores). I don’t know why I thought this would be a solution to our problem. Maybe it was because we’d adopted them — afraid if we ever lost that initial connection we had with them that we might never get it back. Looking back ten years ago, it was a bad decision on our part because things got worse instead of better.
Then, we stopped compromising. We started saying, “No” and ignoring how they acted after that. It took us another year or so to even out the rocky road we’d been traveling. We started using the Bible as our standard of behavior. Were things perfect? No. Little things would creep up and we’d have to handle them. Did I almost forget that God was right there with me? You bet. But we stood our ground and our boys are better for it. Martin is a Navy veteran and is a sophomore in college. Steven works hard as an electrician’s apprentice and just became a new dad (see my profile picture — that’s my precious Joshlyn, and I am her Mimi). We learned the hard way that there are just some things on which you just can’t compromise.
The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.” Jesus answered, “Scripture says, ‘A person cannot live on bread alone but on every word that God speaks.’ ” Then the devil took him into the holy city and had him stand on the highest part of the temple. He said to Jesus, “If you are the Son of God, jump! Scripture says, ‘He will put his angels in charge of you. They will carry you in their hands so that you never hit your foot against a rock.’ ” Jesus said to him, “Again, Scripture says, ‘Never tempt the Lord your God.’ ” Once more the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms in the world and their glory. The devil said to him, “I will give you all this if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Go away, Satan! Scripture says, ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’ ” Then the devil left him, and angels came to take care of him. Matthew 4:3-11 (GWT)
Aren’t you glad that Jesus didn’t compromise? The devil came to Him when He was weak from fasting. Isn’t that how Satan goes about his business? He attacks when we are weak and susceptible to his suggestions. He wants us to compromise, but that is never the solution. We have to remember that in our weakness, God shows His greatest strength. He will never give us more than we can handle and if we seek Him at those times, He will give us the ability to stand against the tempter.
Jesus’s experience with Satan in the desert should give us all hope. Jesus was as human as we are. The difference is that He lived with the Spirit of God inside Him. There was nothing He could do but obey His Father and resist temptation. He just said, “No.” And take note that He backed it up with scripture!* When I picture Jesus on the cross, I am constantly aware that He could have compromised and 10,000 angels would have swooped down from heaven to minister to him. His compromise would have cost us eternity.
The song that’s been running through my mind for the past few days is “I Won’t Trade My Crown” by the Down East Boys. I hope you are blessed when you listen to it.
*Note: If you will remember from one of my first posts, I made a pact with God to memorize more scripture this year. I started writing scripture on notecards and posting them on the cabinets in my kitchen. While I cook or clean, I practice my memory verses! It’s really making a difference.
“I Won’t Trade My Crown” (Down East Boys) “http://www.youtube.com/embed/qQVsMNAmTXE?rel=0“