A frustrating bureaucrat taught me this valuable lesson

Living in Guatemala it was always an experience to get your visa renewed. The rules were constantly changing.

A new missionary who didn’t speak Spanish asked me to help her with the process. To keep it simple I decided we’d just go to immigration first and ask them what they wanted. Amazingly they gave us an official looking sheet of paper with a list of 4 items.

Wow! This’ll be super easy. Six days later she came back with all the stuff – her passport, one passport photo, a letter from a lawyer and a police report from her hometown.

We trotted to the immigration office and took our place in line. An hour later we confidently handed the packet to the immigration officer. He gave us back the letter from the lawyer and said, “You don’t need this. But I need four passport photos, not just one. And where is the copy of your driver’s license and birth certificate?”

I showed him the official paper from his very own office that we’d been given. “We were here last week and they told me this is all we’d need.”

He looked at the paper, then looked at us and wryly said, “It doesn’t matter what that says, I need four passport photos and a copy of your driver’s license and birth certificate.”

Awk! How can we keep the rules if the rules keep changing? Can we get a little consistency around here?

Some of our kids might feel that same way. I know my parenting life went like this sometimes.

I’m tired this afternoon so I ignore their acting up. It’s just too much trouble to confront it. But, I don’t totally ignore it. I pour a glass or two of frustration into my “frustration bucket”.

Tomorrow they do the same thing. This time I bark at them about it but still don’t do anything. Except I do add another ounce or two to my frustration bucket.

That evening they do the same thing and my bucket overflows. I go into action and make sure they know this behavior will not be tolerated.

The problem is, I’m emptying my whole bucket – over reacting to the same thing I did nothing about the first two times.

Awk! Can we get a little consistency around here? How can we keep the rules if the rules keep changing?

We’re never going to do it perfectly but as much as possible we need to avoid filling our frustration bucket by taking action each time our child acts up. It’s what we call consistency.

Lay out the rules – you need these four items to get your visa – and then follow through with what we said.

… let your yes be yes; and your no, no; lest ye fall into condemnation.
James 5:12

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