October 6, 2014
Sometimes I can idealize the past, like there were seasons of our lives that were close to perfect, but of course that’s not true. Every season has its joys and its hardships. All of motherhood seems to be that way–hard and wonderful, painful and renewing, exhausting and invigorating, full of laughter and tears, hope and defeat, joy and frustration, beauty and mess…and often all of those things all at once, which is…a lot to process.
So this season of life is hard. It is, and for me, that’s not looking to change any time soon. I’m pregnant, I have three busy boys, and I have a foster daughter whose future and our involvement in it are anything but certain. I can’t change my circumstances (nor would I want to), and I can’t make the people in my life (specifically the small ones) be perfect. The only thing that I can change is who I am in the midst of all of that.
I Corinthians 13:4-8a says “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” Awhile back my kids and I memorized these verses together. I thought “Awesome! Think of all the things these verses can teach my children!!” One of them needs to work on being kind, and not irritable. Another needs to remember that love is not rude and does not insist on its own way. BUT…I really wish that these verses said “Love is not irritating. It does not test the patience of its caregivers, or pester others constantly.” I would just love to quote THOSE verses back to my kids. But I’ve realized that the truth God is speaking to my heart here is that it is ME that needs to grow in love. My children do too, but it’s that whole oxygen-mask-on-the-airplane thing. I cannot teach my kids about how to love others in a Christ-like way while I am failing to.
Because that passage does NOT say “love is not irritating,” but it DOES say “it is not irritable.” It doesn’t say that love should not test the patience of its caregivers, but it does say that it is patient and kind. It does not say that love won’t pester others, but it does say that love bears all things. On days when I’m feeling ineffective and discouraged, I am forgetting that love “believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.” And when I feel just plain fed up, I have forgotten that “love never ends.” God’s word does not say what I want it to say. It says what HE wants it to say.
And then there’s 2 Corinthians 1:4, which says that God comforts us so that we may comfort others. I wish God said “Elisa, you work so hard, and you are tired. Come to Me, and I will comfort you…and I’ll make your house be quiet and clean, and give you more hours in the day, and let you have a nap while everybody leaves you alone.” But He doesn’t. He says He’ll give me comfort so that I can give it to others. He’ll fill me up so I can be poured out again. And in Matthew 11:28-30, He promises that doing this will become an easy burden to bear.
God is trying to get my attention here. Every verse I teach my kids for the benefit of their souls turns out to be for the benefit of my soul. Lamentations 3:22-23? I picked that one out after a few rough days in a row for our girl. I wanted her to know that God’s faithfulness never ends and His mercies are new every morning. Maybe those words meant something to her, maybe they didn’t. But through teaching her, they have become so much more precious to me. James 1:19? It doesn’t say not to make other people angry, but to be slow to become angry. Which means I can’t get ticked off at my kids and blame them for it. If I’m ticked off, that’s on ME. Over and over and over, I try to teach my kids about how God would have them live and love others, only to realize I’m preaching to myself.
I want all of life to point to Jesus. I want to take as many opportunities as possible to remind my kids of His faithful love, and of their need for a savior, which is my need as well. But as I attempt to do this, God is using my kids’ sweet little lives to give me living, breathing pictures of His love, and what He wants from me. And I am so thankful for these little people, these flawed but precious gifts that are bringing about both joy and holiness.