Friday, September 28, 2012

Drama Queens

We have outlawed two words at our house.  Those words are "always" and "never."  Does that sound silly?  Perhaps it is, but conversations with my oldest daughter had started to sound like this:

 "Mommy, can I have a cookie?"
 "No, supper is almost ready."
 "I'll never have a cookie again!"

Or how about this one:  "Mommy, can I watch TV?"
"Not right now; it's time to play outside."
"But you always let me watch TV!"

As you can see, my girl has a tendency toward drama.  She is not the worst I've seen by far, but I feel the need to nip it in the bud.  I'll admit, I have giggled a little when I've seen a little girl demonstrate histrionics.  Haven't we all smiled a little indulgently at the small "drama queens" in our lives?  But I have a new strategy in parenting.  I imagine my children as teenagers or adults, still behaving the way they do now.  I don't think many of us appreciate the overly sensational forty year old as much as we do the "cute" four year old.

The Bible has some examples of women who held on to their flair for drama well past the time they should have outgrown it. We've already taken a close look at Rachel.  Poor Rachel, we seem to pick on her a lot.  But she definitely fit the profile of a drama queen.  In her competition with Leah, children were the score, and Jacob's love was the prize.  When Rachel saw that she was lagging behind, she threw a temper tantrum.  "Give me children, or else I die" (Genesis 30:1). I don't know whether she believed her own outrageous words, but she used them to try to manipulate Jacob.  And in a way, it worked.  She convinced Jacob to go in to her handmaiden so that Bilhah could have children for Rachel.  But her victory had a stinger.  "Then Jacob's anger burned against Rachel" (Genesis 30:2).  The very man she was eager to please was instead upset with her.  Her use of histrionics to get what she wanted backfired on her.

Rather than use exaggeration to manipulate others, Lot's daughters convinced themselves that they needed to take drastic action.  After the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot and his girls hid out in the mountains because Lot was afraid to stay in the nearby town.  The girls made the dramatic statement that there was "not a man on earth" to father their children (Genesis 19:31).  They chose not to reason with their father to convince him to go back to the town or wait for him to overcome his fear of the people there. Instead, they got their father drunk and slept with him in order to get pregnant. We don't know how Lot reacted when he became aware of their actions.  I can only imagine it was a dreadful scene.  But we do know that the long term consequences of their actions were particularly harmful to the people of Israel.  Their children were the fathers of two nations that were bitter enemies of God's chosen people, the Moabites and Ammonites.*

In both of these stories, we read about women who were impatient to get their way.  Because they were unwilling to wait, they came up with excuses to sin that bore little resemblance to reality.  "Give me children, or else I die." "Not a man on earth" will come to us.  Really?  Did they really believe those things, or were they just convenient excuses to get what they wanted?   Do we ever make similar grandiose assertions to the people around us in order to get what we want when we want it?  The scary part is that it often works.  But just like Lot's daughters and Rachel, we may find that the consequences are not to our liking.

So what is the answer?  I think we have to first determine if our problem is a real problem.  How many times have we gotten worked up over something silly, something that isn't a problem at all?  I can remember eating a pint of Death By Chocolate ice cream, sitting amongst the ashes of my future career, crying my eyes out because I made a C on an organic chemistry test.  Does that C affect me at all now?  Not in the least.  It was not worth getting dramatic over. Sometimes we have legitimate problems.  Lot's daughters did.  They needed to have children to continue the family line.  When we have a real problem, there are other choices besides dramatic statements and sinful actions.  Hannah probably felt much like Rachel did.  But her answer was not to badger her husband.  Instead, she prayed for a son (1 Samuel 1:10-12). David knew he had been anointed to be king, but he refused to kill Saul, even when Saul was trying to kill him (1 Samuel 24:4-10, 26:9-12). David instead waited on the Lord.  Praying and waiting are both better solutions to our problems then getting dramatic.  Praying and waiting lead to blessings (Isaiah 40:31).  Dramatics lead to sin (Proverbs 28:26).

*To see how the Moabites and Ammonites were enemies of God's people, read Numbers 22, Judges 3:12-30, Judges 11, 1 Samuel 14:47, 1 Kings 11:7, 2 Kings 3 among many others.

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE(R), Copyright(c) 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission - 

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