Kids are many things. They are hard work, messy, expensive, and of course bundles of joy. They transform your life and throw you unprepared into the storm of parenting. It is our job to love them, care for them, point them to Christ and try not to kill them in the process.
Sometimes as a parent I get overwhelmed by the crushing responsibility of raising a hard working, respectful, and (Lord-willing), Christ following adult. Not to mention an adult others actually want to be around. I read countless parenting books, blogs, listen to sermons, devour my Bible and pray. Oh man do I pray! Only He can truly shape my kids, so I beg Him for that daily!
I can get so focused on shaping my child, that I end up seeing them as just lumps of clay. Instead of little humans with personalities, likes and dislikes, who deserve the same amount of respect as anyone else.
I'm a passionate mom. I believe parenting is not something to be taken lightly or passively. Loving, disciplined, well adjusted children then adults do not just happen. We need to be passionate. We need to use our wisdom, unique skills, and resources to step up to the plate and proactively PARENT our kids.
That being said, too much of anything...well you know the saying. Yesterday I got a dose of humbling from my oldest son and it reminded me that my kids are not just mini-me's that need to be turned from sinners to saints. They are incredible little people who see, hear, and absorb the world around them and are certainly not meant to be "seen and not heard".
I have Chronic Illness. Several conditions that can, on a good day, leave me with chronic pain and fatigue to bad days when I'm hospitalized and fighting for my life. Being a parent while managing Chronic Illness is HARD. Some days I handle my limits with patience and grace, and other days not so much. Yesterday I woke up on the extremely grumpy side of the bed. Literally snipping and lecturing my son just because he dared to crawl into bed with me for a snuggle. I spent the next few hours whining about my messy house, saying no to anything the boys asked for, and burying myself in my phone. Out of habit, I grabbed my Bible and prayer journal but I had absolutely no desire to use them. I was in pain and tired. I deserved to pout.
I knew my attitude sucked so I skimmed through the Psalms and read the devotional accompanying it. No change. I let the boys watch a tales (movie) so I could spend time writing in my prayer journal and wait for my mood to disappear. Nope.
Now feeling grumpy, tired, in pain and frustrated, I sent out a text to a dear friend who I knew would pray for me.
*Do you have someone in your life that you KNOW will stop what they are doing and pray? It's an incredible blessing.* - (If not, contact me in the Resource tab to connect about prayer)
I didn't get a response but I knew her, and I knew she was praying. My mood did lift a bit and the morning went on. While making lunch I nicked myself on a knife and the pity party started all over again. With a huge sigh I handed the kids their lunch and without even thinking I asked my 5 year old to pray for me. Realizing that it was a kind of vague and random thing to ask your 5 year old, I was expecting him to ignore me or at least ask why.
Instead, without hesitation he jumps right into a prayer asking Jesus to take away Mommy's bad attitude so we could have a good day. Also asking that I would feel Jesus closely and of course thanking Him for the macaroni and cheese.
It was a simple, humble, honest prayer that shattered me right then and there. I cried and laughed at the same time and sat down to my own lunch with a huge smile on my face.
I don't know what amazed me most; seeing my son display authentic childlike faith, my attitude completely changing, or the fact that he didn't need to ask me what to pray for! I was such a grumpy whiny mess that he already knew what I desperately needed. A heart change.
While I fumbled around all morning stuck in self pity and trying to use God as a vending machine, my sweet boy who saw EVERYTHING showed me compassion and didn't hesitate for an instant to go to the Father for help. There was no "if it be your will..." in his prayer, nor was there reservation or fancy wording. It was an act of genuine, humble faith. It was an act of love, for his Mommy and for God.
I can honestly say, his prayer was answered. As I humbly apologized to both my boys for the whole morning and for my sinful behaviour, I praised God deeply within my heart. Not only were they eager to forgive me but Gabriel could hardly wait to tell Daddy that God "fixed" Mommy.
Yes, He did indeed.
I ground my teeth and rolled my eyes as I walked into the kitchen after another long day. It was the same old irritation that wells up in me repeatedly when I come face to face with our marriage long argument; dirty dishes.
Household chores are a fact of life; laundry needs to be folded, bathrooms scrubbed, garbage disposed of, and meals must be prepared and cleaned up after. People seem to have varying levels of dislike when it comes to cleaning. It can range from a mild inconvenience to deep hatred, and my husband tends to be the latter. Since coming home from our honeymoon, doing the dishes has been an issue. He comes from a family who did dishes once a day at the most, sometimes letting them pile up for days on end. On the other hand, I was taught that everything, including the floor, must be spotless after every meal, no matter how small. Our premarital counseling was thorough, but there wasn't a section on combining cleaning tactics.
After our first few married months of bickering, our Christmas present to ourselves was a dishwasher. We continue to joke to others that it "saved" our marriage.
Over the years, that excellent machine did its job, but it wasn't a complete solution. We usually take turns with household chores and work together to get things done, but somehow, the dishes are almost always waiting for me by the end of the day. When this is the case, I give an exaggerated sigh and gallantly plow through the smelly dishes while mentally berating my husband. I grumble and think of all the times he has neglected the chore, and I promptly come up with many great examples. I clean as quickly as I can, to flaunt how simple it can be and stand satisfied with my martyred task. I then sit in the living room, waiting for Adrian to come downstairs and excessively fawn over my gracious act of service, admitting to his neglect.
As I wait, a part of me wants him to defend himself so that I can throw all my pent up frustration in his face. However, this man of mine finally takes a peek at the kitchen, smiles at me, and says a sincere and heartfelt thank-you. He then sets out to do any other task left unfished, followed by offering a foot massage—no fawning or groveling, just sincere gratitude and humility.
Gulp. Instantly my pride is crushed deep in my spirit, and I feel the weight of my resentful thoughts. I may have done the job needed doing, but amongst the dirty dishes was something just as unpleasant, a selfish heart.
My incredible husband serves our family passionately, and graciously. He cooks all our meals, works hard to provide, gives 100% to parenting our kids, treasures me as Christ does the church, and loves Jesus immensely. I am incredibly blessed to call him mine.
Adrian does not intend to leave the kitchen clean up to me. It is not a malicious or manipulative tactic to weasel out of his least favorite chore. He just isn't made like me! We are different, and we are not perfect. He tends to compartmentalize and take each task individually, where I see things as all connected. I organize and strive for structure; Adrian is flexible and relaxed. Together we make a great team in so many ways, but yes, sometimes our natural tendencies do clash, and things slip between the cracks.
God reminded me that night of 1 Samuel 16:7, "For God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." While I was "nobly" completing our least favorite task, my tired husband took the time to give extra songs and cuddles to our kids, after putting them to bed. We both were doing something for the family's sake, but our hearts were in very different places.
A wise, dear friend of mine recently told me: "There is a big difference between serving and being a servant, and God calls for a servant's heart."
Marriage is not a 50/50 split mentality. It is the commitment to giving 100% every day, no matter what your spouse is offering in return. If we want to see changes in the everyday irritations that come up as husband and wife, we must first be willing to check our own hearts, asking, am I serving, or am I a servant?.
God's grace and love have no limits and know no bounds, and if we continue to saturate ourselves in His Word and practice His presence, our hearts will change and mold to be one like Jesus'. A pure heart of a servant, not self-seeking, and content in the knowledge that everything we do, we do for the Lord.
The dishes still come up as an occasional frustration, but I learned something significant that night. I can't say I like walking into an unclean kitchen, but now instead of allowing resentment to creep in, I pray God will help me care a lot more about the condition of my heart towards my husband than the state of my dirty dishes.
Author - Erin
Follower of Jesus, on a journey to glorify God and to advance His Kingdom while battling Chronic Illness in the everyday life. Diagnoses include Lupus, CVID, POTS, IBS, Hemiplegic Migraines and other Autoimmune conditions.