Devil or angel, I can't make up my mind." The words to that sappy old love song have often reminded me of my son's childhood. Now that I'm a great-grandmother, I look back on his younger years and wonder how we ever would have survived without God's extra patience poured out on us.
Perhaps you've got a child who seems to be out of control, one who shifts between savage and sweetheart by the hour. If so, I'd like to encourage you with a story about my once-wild child, Michael.
In elementary school, Michael often talked back, sassed his teachers, and came home bloodied from fistfights more times than I care to recall. By age 12, Michael was a handful, making me love him and want to strangle him in equal proportions.
Then one morning, my husband, fed up with Michael's behavior, gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his cool, he'd need to go outside and hammer a nail into the back fence that protected my flower garden from our cows. Michael laughed, but promised he would. I had my doubts.
Before going to bed that night, I moseyed outside and counted nine nails in one of the rails. I couldn't believe it. Every day for the rest of the week, I walked outside to the fence and counted nails, finding fewer and fewer each time. Apparently, Michael was finding it easier to hold his temper than to hammer nails.
Finally the night came when I didn't find any new nails. I shared the news with my husband and he simply smiled. The following morning, Michael's dad told him that for every day he was able to control his temper, he could pull a nail out of the fence.1