On Sunday, one of our pastors shared a portion of his family's story. What some would say was a less than ideal way to start a family. The hopelessness they felt in their circumstances. But their family is so beautiful - and it's made all the more beautiful because of all that the Lord has done in and through and for them.
And so, I was encouraged. Encouraged to continue to be honest about my struggles. The less than ideal moments that only the walls of our home have seen. Oh, what our walls would say if they could speak.
(Anyone catch the Amy Grant allusion there :)? )
Like a day last week. A day where I felt slightly insane at home with my kids. Oh wait, that happens on a lot of days. I'll admit it. At some point during most days being a mom feels exhausting, drives me to tears, and/or finds me acting in ways or saying things that I wish I could take back. I struggle with anger. And impatience. Sometimes I am appalled at my own behavior. There. I said it.
Eric will call and everything is going great. An hour later he is home from work and I am in tears. I think at times he is totally perplexed as to how everything could change so drastically in sixty minutes.
Sometimes my prayer is Lord, help me to love these kids.
The crazy thing is, that we would love to have another little person in this house, no question about it. And, I think I have the best job in the world, no question about it.
Now, don't get me wrong. I love my kids. I love Marshall's red-haired self. His monkey hugs, his sweetness toward Baby J, the way he likes to perfect something before anyone can see it, his love of Star Wars and Legos and Angry Birds.
I love Eliza's blond-bobbed head. (Which by the way, has a mysterious piece in the front with a big chunk of hair missing. She says she has no idea what happened to her hair. We may never know . . . ). I love Eliza's enthusiasm, her expressiveness, her dramatic nature, and her love of all things glitter-y and sparkle-y.
I love Jameson's semi-baldness (hmmm - not sure why I felt compelled to comment on all of my kids hair), those gigantic brown eyes, his big head and his perfectly round belly, his perfect comedic timing, the way he kisses all of us before bedtime, his love of balls, trucks and loud noises.
Yet, being a mom has showed me my need for a Savior more than anything else in my life. If I love my kids so much, why do I snap at them in impatience? Why is it so difficult at times to respond with the grace that God has given to me? Why are there days that I selfishly live for nap time? Acting as if I deserve something - and you know how I feel about that.
I totally and completely identify with Paul when he says: For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate . . . For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. (Romans 7:15, 17-20)
I feel better knowing that even Paul, yes, Paul!, had the same internal battle that I have. Misery loves company. Isn't that how the saying goes? Paul, the great missionary who gave all with reckless abandon for the Gospel, called himself wretched.
Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? (Romans 7:24)
But, Paul also knew the Truth of the Gospel. That in his wretchedness, he was saved. That even while Paul was murdering Christians, God called him to himself.
Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! ... There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. (Romans 7:25-8:2).
And like Paul, I am set free. I am set free from condemnation. I am set free from the law of sin and death. Because Jesus gave everything for me.
Because He gave everything, I can turn to Jesus and pray Lord, help me love these kids. Of course I love them. But, I want to demonstrate to them a life that is worthy of the calling of Christ. I want to be willing to lay down my life for them, the way that Jesus laid down His life for me. I want to be willing to die to myself so that my children can experience Jesus and really live. To set aside the things I think that I deserve. [like peace and quiet. being able to eat my lunch without being interrupted 15 times. a life free from the sounds of bickering. being obeyed the first time I ask.] And, trust that as I lay down my life for my children, the Lord will supply all of my need.
God is so gracious. He hasn't left me on my own to be able to do this. He doesn't say This is what I expect of you, now off you go, on your own to figure this out. In fact, He says that living a life worthy of Him is impossible on my own. He doesn't say be strong. He says "be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might." (Ephesians 6:10). Ephesians 6:10-11 says that He gives me His own armor. God's own armor. Which is enough to allow me to stand firm. Because there are moments where life feels like a battle.
But the catch is that I have to put the armor on. It's like any other type of clothing. It's not going to do me much good sitting on my closet floor, or strewn across the chair in my bedroom, or rumpled in a laundry basket (not that my clothes are ever in those places - ummm). The Word of God and prayer are my armor and my weapons for motherhood, and wifehood, and relationships, and crises, and daily life.
My ideal is to be up before my children to study God's Word and to have uninterrupted prayer before everyone is awake. Any and all of you have permission to ask me how this is going. Seriously. Please do. Sometimes my ideal just doesn't happen. But, I can still put on the armor of God. Paul tells the Christians at Ephesus to pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. It is such an amazing gift to have access to God, His armor, protection and weapons for everything I face. I don't want to leave it sitting on the closet floor. Yet, I go back to Romans 7:15 (above). Even though I want to take hold of all He has given me, it is a daily struggle to do it!
Thanks for "listening" to all of my thoughts. I promise a light-hearted post for this weekend. With my favorite chocolate cake of all time. Covered in chocolate ganache. And baked with Kahlua inside. Just you wait . . . it's amazing.