This morning was HARD.
I woke up early, hoping to be able to do a little reading and writing. My middle child, however, seems to have a sixth sense about when mom is awake. Even when I try to be as quiet as a mouse, he wakes up much earlier than normal. His dad can get him to go back to bed without a fight, but not so much his mom. And unfortunately, on this morning, dad was already gone for an all-day fishing trip.
Perhaps that was the first straw. At the time it honestly wasn’t a very big deal, but maybe it was what set the trajectory of frustration and selfishness that followed.
Our morning was routine. Eat bananas before breakfast is made. Play a little. Straighten up the kitchen and make breakfast. Eat together at the kitchen island. Then go back to playing with toys and checking off items from my to-do list. The boys had new Lego creations to play with and I snapped a few photos on my iPod when the sun was hitting them just so.
Mixed in all of this, though, was a really ill-tempered heart. The boys were quite rambunctious, struggling to obey, and occasionally bickering over who got the feather for their Lego Robin Hood hats.
I felt overwhelmed by the horseplay, the disobedience, the bickering. In response I was impatient, short-tempered, and quick to find fault.
I’m sure you can picture this scene. You have probably been there before too. Struggling to keep up and checking the clock to see if it is nap time yet so you can regroup and recharge. Even if just for fifteen minutes.
I am not proud of the way that I acted this morning. Distracted by tasks at hand, I was neglecting the need to slow down and really assess what was going on. Choosing to plow through like a bull in a china shop. To be fair, when you have three children constantly demanding care and attention, it is difficult to take a moment to reflect and analyze. It’s hard just to remember to go to the bathroom some days. So I’m not saying that the situation isn’t understandable or wholly unexpected. But it is why parenting is consistently one of the greatest means of sanctification in my life.
We made it to nap time. And truly by God’s grace, they all went to sleep and gave me a couple hours of quiet solitude. And I want to say as emphatically as possible that I am thankful for such a hard morning. I am thankful for reminders that even when I am weak and ashamed over my sin, God still pursues me with love and mercy.
I raise my voice to my kids. He whispers grace to my heart.
I desperately mutter prayers for help. He surprises me with much more than I expect.
I try to just shut down and do nothing during a quiet moment. He gives me truth in an email.
I am blind to what is taking place in my own heart. He opens my eyes, shows me my sin, and kindly leads me to repentance.
I don’t understand what is going on with my kids. He provides a timely help to figure out what needs to happen.
This isn’t a story about how smart I am to figure everything out and get my kids in shape. This is a story about the astounding love of a Father who faithfully and generously provides for the neediest of children.
What were some of the timely gifts of grace that helped me emerge from a dreary morning into a glorious afternoon? I’m glad you asked.
I am thankful for friends. For messaging. For prayers. I am thankful that when I feel low, I have other mothers in the trenches with me. They understand. They invite me over even when their house is full too. They offer winsome words and a listening ear. They bring humor to any situation.
While sharing stories of small children via messaging with friends, I read an email that was simultaneously a punch in the gut and a cool glass of water on a hot day. My pastor sent a copy of a daily Bible devotional with this pulled out and quoted at the top: “The happy and useful Christian is the one whose concerns and activities center around others and who earnestly seeks to follow and honor Christ and His Word.”
As I read and reread this devotional, I was convicted that the biggest problem this morning was that my attitude had largely been focused on myself. Even my inward lament that I was having such a hard time being patient and responding with love was self-focused.
Realizing that the solution is not constantly mentally assessing my performance but focusing my eyes on Christ’s finished work on my behalf is liberating. The writer of the devotional concludes by saying that “we do still have to battle the old nature, but in Christ we have both the incentive and power to ‘put off the old man with his deeds’, and to ‘put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness‘”. AMEN.
A few encouraging posts on Instagram, a rest on the couch, and the last slice of mocha pie were further gifts of grace that left me in awe of God’s lovingkindness towards me.
The second half of the day was as uneventful as the first, but the atmosphere was different. The Lord gave patience and gentle answers. He gave pizza and dinosaur documentaries. He gave an easy bedtime and words to write here.
Who knows what tomorrow will bring. I am confident that before too long I will need a reminder like I did today. I am also confident that the Lord knows where to find me and He won’t leave me alone in the fight.