In years past, we've gotten computer games for the kids for Christmas. This year, with one exception (Joseph got Josh a computer game), we went with Board/Card games instead of computer games. And it's been fun, but with some learning experiences that were challenging mixed in.
It's hard to explain, but suffice it to say that each one of our children has a big red streak running through them. By that I mean that each one is confident, bossy, stubborn, wants their way, and competitive. Libby is the closest we come to having a peacemaker, and she's still young enough to want her way. (I don't know where they get this from - ha ha). So when it comes to game playing, things gets a little tricky, dicey, hectic, loud - you get the picture. I have given lecture after lecture this past two weeks about character. I've talked about how games reveal your character. I've talked about how life reveals your character. I've talked about how life is all about developing and refining your CHARACTER.
This afternoon, all six children were in the family room playing Great Dalmuti, a card game. I can count on one hand the time that all of our children have played a game like this. They have played other things together, but not very often an actual game like this, on their own, without any parental supervision. (I know this is really sad, but it's true.) They were playing before dinner, and they started it up again after dinner. There were some blow-ups, but I stayed out of it and they solved it on their own. I only yelled out once about character development. I was pretty proud of myself!! And proud of them.
I've heard of other families playing games together a lot, and frankly, I've been jealous, because it just doesn't seem to happen for us; or it hasn't until this holiday season. They are older, and that makes a huge difference, but we have finally gotten over that hump (whatever it was made of) and we/they are playing games. Yeah! I'm really happy about that.
I really do believe what I have been trying to teach the kids about character, though. So much of what happens to us in life is about character development, and not about the immediate circumstances or outcomes.
Take, for example, Joseph of Egypt and Potipher's wife. Thankfully, Joseph understood that the preservation of his good character was more important than the immediate outcome. Prison seems like a pretty harsh reward for obeying commandments, but it really wasn't about the immediate outcome. It was about Joseph learning what he needed to, and also being in the right place at the right time later in his life, something he surely could not have foreseen in that bedroom in Potipher's palace. I love Joseph of Egypt. I love him for his example, over and over, of doing the right thing, even when the reward was not immediate, not in the next weeks, or even months, or years. He was in prison for years.
Along with character development, I am beginning to understand more clearly how temporary this life is, how very short. A mere sliver in eternity. It helps me so much to widen my view, and to think in eternal terms instead of just day-to-day.
Happy 2009 everyone, and here's to thinking of character development with an eternal perspective!