I commented to Matthew today that I've been noticing, over the past few days, a change in his attitude and approach to Lizzie.
They've been on a bit of a rocky road for the last while: In a desire to claim his attention, she seems incapable of restraining herself from tormenting and bugging and poking at him; and he eventually gets tired of it and snaps at her or yells or even gives her a slug. It's been hard to manage them again over the past month or two.
But over the past few days, although her attempts to annoy him have not changed in any way, I've noticed that Matthew has changed. He hasn't been shrieking at her, even when one might begin to think that he's entitled to; he hasn't slugged her; he hasn't spit out any hateful words. He's been frustrated, but he's walked away from her, or come to find me to vent when he's been unable to manage on his own anymore. Furthermore, he's been answering her taunts and jabs with a tolerant "Oh Lizzie..." and when she's been tearful about something that's hurt her or hasn't worked for her, he's actually gone to her on a number of occasions and flung a caring arm around her and asked if she's ok. My jaw's just about dropped open on several occasional over the past few days.
So I noted out loud today my observation, and told Matthew that his changes have also shifted the nature of their relationship a bit. I commented on what a change it's made. Here's what he said in response (as closely as I can remember):
"Thanks Mom. You know, I've been praying a lot lately. Quietly. Just talking to God. Sometimes when I lie in bed and can't sleep right away, I just lie there and talk to God and I've been trying to listen for His voice. I've told him that I love Him, and I think He's told me back that He loves me. And I know, from those quiet times, that He wants something different and better for my relationship with Lizzie. So I want that, too. So I'm trying to do something different."
Huh. I've been reminded by my ten-year-old that it's God who brings about true heart change...through listening and communicating and spending quiet time with the One who knows all about me and where my heart is at. No wonder believers in the New Testament were encouraged to have the faith of a child. Out of the mouths of babes.