I was in a sulk for the last full day of our staycation.
The reason for the sulk is irrelevant. (Truly, it is. Not just irrelevant to the story, but, as it often is in my case, irrelevant to any reality. I sulk for no good reason. More on that another time.)
But the main point to note is that in a sulk: I go silent and brood. I exude brooding. The purpose of the sulk is to make people know I am brooding so they feel sorry for what they had done, and beg me to be normal and happy again.
Basically, emotional blackmail.
It doesn’t work for two reasons. The first is that 99.9% of the time, there is absolutely no justification for my sulk. Any offence or slight that kicked it off is understandable, accidental, or most commonly – non-existent. It’s all in my head.
Do you know how hard it is to maintain a sulk knowing I have no good reason for it?
The second is my family is more or less immune to my sulks. I call it Gross Insensitivity, but realistically it’s probably more a function of their general Well-Adjustedness where when they sense I’m just being an a**, they don’t indulge me in it.
Annoying as it is in the middle of a sulk, I do appreciate this is good for me in the long run.
In any case, amid this sulk, two incidences happened which just brought to mind a Christiany principle that always used to bother me. In Matthew 7 v11, Jesus challenges his listeners by pointing out even how sinful, evil, failing fathers still do good for their children, how much more can a good and loving God be trusted to bless His children?
Firstly, my daughter, the more sensitive of my two children, sensed Daddy was brooding, so she quietened down a bit and was slightly worried. (Don’t worry, my wife spotted it and briefed her on what was going on so she didn’t take it to heart too much in the end) But at the end of a full day at the beach, she was so tired she fell asleep at the dinner table.
Even though she was (superficially) the cause of my sulk, it was unthinkable to me to do anything other than carry her back all the way back to the hotel room. About half a kilometre including some very long traffic lights. Her tantrums do get to me. Her whining does wind me up. But when she is in genuine need and not fighting me about it, I can’t do anything but pick her up and do what is best for her. Even in my deep sulk.
The other incident was when my son, with a lower EQ than his sister, and therefore completely oblivious to my sulk, instinctively reached for my hand while walking and prattled on about some minor thing that was very important to him at that time.
Though he was equally culpable in causing my sulk and had not even acknowledged my sulk, the fact was this was an innocent reaching out of a child to his father, with no agenda other than to hold hands and chat.
I didn’t pull back from him.
The point is this: Even at my most petulant, unreasonable state, I will not refuse connection with my children when they ask for it. Whether they deserve it or not is beside the point. Whatever they had done or not is irrelevant. (And that’s from my twisted, self-pitying point of view.) How much more does God not cold-shoulder His children provided they are not actively fighting Him?
I could be taking that verse out of context, but something does resonate in me. If even I at my worst, will not refuse connection with my children, I think a good and loving God will do even better.