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Good Night and Make It Right

Good Night and Make it RightIf you are a busy mom, sometimes the end of the day and the chance to sleep can be quite inviting. The bed seems to call your name, and memories flood in of how soft and warm the bed was when you were yanked out of it that morning. My alarm clock is usually my toddler calling, "Mama, where are you?" When night time rolls around, I am often all too ready to hasten the bedtime routine, and from 6 p.m. on, I have an agenda: Get the children to bed! I initiate the activities to prepare for ending our day (picking up toys, eating an evening snack, packing for the next day, bathing, brushing teeth, and telling bedtime stories).

Most evenings, I am so exhausted after accomplishing my goal, all I can do is sleep (that is until the baby wakes up for his night time feeding). So why I am writing this article, you ask? In part to keep me more accountable and in part to share with you what God has shared with me: How to bring more order and peace to the end of the day.

Over the years, I have encountered various names for what God eventually led me to research a bit deeper. One mother explained to me that right before her children prayed at bedtime, she spent time with them called "making it right." They talked about what happened during the day that made them angry and "made it right" in their hearts before they fell asleep. They prayed about how they felt and forgave the person who had made them angry. This helped the children talk about their day, gain more peace before falling asleep, and deal with their feelings instead of storing pent-up anger.

Bedtime Moments

In the Jewish tradition, children and adults have a similar bedtime ritual known as cheshbonhanefesh. This is a time of self-reflection that prepares the heart and mind for bedtime prayer. What a great way to spend that time with your children when they are tired but not ready to end the day.

One evening, my 5-year old daughter seemed particularly cross before going to bed. All day, she had had a hard time listening. I prayed with her and asked God to show her why she wasn't listening and why she was angry. This opened up the opportunity for her to tell me of an incident that had caused her anger that day. I realized this was more of a heart issue than anything else that may have occurred. The Lord led me to pray with her in the following way:

Good NightFirst, we talked about how what had happened made her feel sad instead of angry. She used anger to cover up her hurt heart. (I have learned to check for sadness when my children exhibit anger). Then, I explained that Jesus is the only one who can help a hurt heart. She was suffering in silence all day (and making us all suffer along with her) and being a grump, when all she had to do was ask Jesus to take her pain away. So, on a child's level, the prayer went something like this:

"God, please forgive me for being mean and angry today. I was really sad because" (I had her tell God what had made her sad that day). At this point, she cried, which was good. When she cried, I knew she was sincerely sorry and in touch with her real emotion (sadness). I told her it was OK to let the sadness "come out" so Jesus could take it away. Then she prayed, "Jesus, please take the ugly and sad out of my heart, so the happy can come back in again."

It was that simple. When she finished praying, her face lit up and she said, "It worked, My heart is happy again." At that point, I realized how she had come to learn to cover her sadness with anger: she had learned it from me. I was her model. I have done it so many times that I've lost count. I explained to her that I struggle with being angry, too, and I sometimes forget to ask Jesus to help me.

Eternal Significance

We talked about God's important assignment for her when she grows up to become a mommy. We talked about how praying when she is angry now, will help her not to make the same mistakes with her children. At this point, she decided to name all "her children." (She plans for at least five children.). I pretended to be the grandmother and have the five come over for a visit. I told them what a great mommy they had because she taught them how to pray.

She looked at me and said, "You know, Mom, that boy that threw sand at me and hit me at the park today, his parents don't teach him how to pray and give Jesus the hurt. That is why he is mean to others." She really got it! I felt like Super-Mom for a moment (just a moment, I don't get many of those). As tears filled my eyes, and before she closed hers for a good night's sleep, my heart glimpsed a bit of the eternal significance. I truly am raising my grandchildren's parents. A few more minutes spent at the end of a tired day now seemed worth more than the soft, warm bed that was calling my name.

Copyright © 2008-2015 Dorena DellaVecchio, Ph.D.

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