I am exhausted. I go to bed exhausted and wake up exhausted.
We are in a sweet and awesome phase of life but also a super challenging and demanding and hard phase, too.
First of all, raising kids is no joke.
Secondly, I’m sure those who have older kids or more kids could look at us and say things like “just wait, if you think you’re busy now…” or “it’s just a season, wait until they are teenagers”…and both of those most likely hold a lot of truth.
But this is the season we are walking right now, so it’s the one God is giving us grace for. We aren’t at the other ones…yet.
Last night we put the kids to bed and planned to do a few things together. But like other nights, our “plans” were thwarted by our two year old. I sat on the living room floor, feeling defeated and frustrated- tears mixing with mascara and creating a black streak on my cheek. “Why won’t she just stop crying?” “I feel like we have tried everything.” “Why does it feel like she has so much control over us?”
I often tell Seth that I’m thankful we are a team in this parenting thing. Last night, he was the strong player. Going up and down the stairs, being consistent in his discipline with the focus on something greater than the change in her behavior.
Finally after she surrendered to sleep, we sat down to talk. He reminded me of a couple things. 1. Our purpose as her parents is not to change her behavior, it is to help shape her heart so that she learns to glorify God. 2. Maybe the reason I am struggling so much, is because I have some idol in my heart that is grinding with the idols in her heart.
Ouch. Who wants to admit that? Wouldn’t it be easier to blame my feelings and reactions on her whininess?
The Truth is, my issues are because of my passions at war within my own heart- ie. My idols.
I woke up this morning, just feeling weary from my sins and her sins from last night. I brewed my coffee, tiptoed to the chair and held my breath that neither kid would wake up and I’d get some quiet time…and was met with this:
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).
1. Ang, don’t lose heart. Yes, it’s HARD but it is also so purposeful and so awesome.
2. I feel old some days. I feel my outer self aging (I know you’re going to laugh at me, mom and dad!)- gray hairs, stretch marks, bags under my eyes- that’s my outer self. It is fading day by day. But then I have this inner self. And it is constantly being reNEWED- constantly made new. Refreshed. Recalibrated. God is the one who does this renewing of my inner heart- it’s not something of my own effort. I need to abide in Him and He does this renewing.
3. This truly truly truly is a light, momentary “affliction”. I know that. And God is using these sweet kiddos to refine and shape our hearts in this “affliction”
4. Trust that God is using all of this for His glory and for an eternal purpose.
Recalibration. That is what I needed. To get my focus off of the waves and on His face.
To be reminded to not lose heart. To be reminded that this is my job right now- to shepherd these precious hearts. To sacrifice my comforts and my wants of a comfortable & easy life for the life that is completely dependent on God’s grace and strength, not mine.
I have been “reading”, as in a few pages every few weeks, in a book called Mom Enough: A Fearless Mother’s Heart and Hope. I would recommend it. It’s been a good kick in the behind as a mom, but in a graceful way. I have underlines marked all through it, with things like “Ugh! Conviciting!” written in the margins. And it helps to hear these things from other moms, who get that this is motherhood/parenting thing is a hard calling.
“Lay yourself down. Sacrifice yourself here, now. Cheerfully wipe the nose for the fifteenth time today. Make dinner again for the people who don’t like green beans. Laugh when a vomiting child thwarts your plans. Lay yourself down for the people here with you, the people who annoy you, the people who get in your way, the people who take up so much of your time that you can’t read anymore. Rejoice in them. Sacrifice for them. Gain that which you cannot lose in them. It is easy to think you have a heart for the orphans on the other side of the world, but to resent the demands of the children in your living room. You cannot have a heart for the gospel and fussiness about your life at the same time.”
And this one…
“When difficult moments appear, belief is not enough. You must apply what you believe…Rest in God, and your children will learn to rest in God. Extend God’s kindness to you, to them. Forgive them the way God forgave you. You have everything you need to spiritually nourish your children, because you have Christ…He wants to see us feeding our children with the grace that He has given to us.”
We are in a demanding season, no doubt. We are being called to pour everything we have into shepherding and raising these kids to be warriors for God. We need to be diligent to display Christ in our own actions, not just our words.
In all reality then, we should go to bed exhausted. Fighting the good fight- well, it’s a fight. A fight of my flesh and a fight of the enemy.
So here’s to another day of getting to be the mama of these kiddos. To recognize the incredible responsibility and privilege it is to raise them. And to remember His mercies are new each morning.