I was highly encouraged by a guest speaker to my MOPS group this morning whose words gently reminded me that I hold the keys to both my husband and my children’s hearts. Let me get this straight. I am not only charged with feeding, clothing and meeting the basic needs of bubba and the princess, but I am also responsible for the maintenance and care of their souls as well. Ugh! Of course, at the end of the day they will rest safely in the palm of my Heavenly Father’s hand, but in the interim, little ole me has the power to make or break their spirit in a thousand different ways. I am the guardian of their tender little hearts. What a terrifying thought! I might even go so far as to say that it feels a bit burdensome. So as I ponder the way I have raised my children thus far I am left with no other option than to throw up my hands in shame and disgrace and cry, “Dear Lord, what on Earth were you thinking?!”
Psalm 8:3-5 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?
And who am I that you find me even vaguely capable of molding and shaping your precious little ones into fully functioning adults, putting their faith and trust in you always and seeking your face all the days of their lives? I mean, are you kidding me? Most days I can barely muster the wherewithal to brush my own teeth let alone find the time, patience, and at the very least desire to not irreparably damage my children for all eternity. The responsibility of “training my children in the way they should go” weighs so heavily on my heart and chest I can barely breathe, but for some reason you have planted these seeds in my life and deem me worthy and capable of watering them on a daily basis. And so, I humbly, but more often hesitantly accept the challenge and set about on this journey of motherhood once again, and today, Thursday, October 14, 2010 (one for the record books) I believe I may have actually done more good than harm to these two little munchkins that sit before me watching Alvin and the Chipmunks as if they were Jesus, Mary, and Joseph themselves.
There is something very profound that occurs when God assembles a group of ten women with very different upbringings, ideas and temperments and they each exude the courage to be vulnerable and honest from the get go, laying their souls bare for each other to examine. A divine appointment, if you will. And so I have been more than blessed today by my new girlfriends whose willingness to share parts of themselves they find unsavory at best touches my heart on the deepest level. I have always been a bit of an over-sharer myself, lacking the filter that says, “Hold that one back for awhile. You don’t want to scare them.” But I truly believe my ability to get to know others is solely based on my ability to let myself be known. If I get real with them, they feel a sense of relief and comfort knowing they can get real with me. Perhaps the fear of judgment is left out of the equation and the playing field is leveled. Needless to say, I left my group this morning feeling rejuvenated and encouraged, ready to spend some quality time with my babies, investing in their souls, if only for a few hours before naptime.
We built a fort in the living room and plopped ourselves down on a tower of pillows to watch a movie. And there on the floor, snuggled by my side, my darling PJ turned his precious face to me and whispered, “Momma, I like you. I had a great day.” My heart wept. What have I done to these children to make an hour on the floor feel like a day at Disneyland? Has my screaming and yelling and lack of patience traumatized them past the point of return or is there hope for me yet? Does God trust me that much with their future choices, actions, path in life, and even success as a husband or wife? Or at the heart of the matter, am I really just responsible for their general well-being and how they feel about themselves at the end of the day? I’m not sure which idea scares me more. I think I’d like to use a lifeline. Hello, Jesus, are you there? Help a mother out, would ya? These kids are going to need all the help they can get. So here I sit, praying for a miracle and feeling overwhelmed. And once again, with nowhere left to turn but back...all the way back to the beginning, the Bible.
2 Corinthians 4:6-7 For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.
I’m going to try to break this down to the most fundamental level. My hope, my help, the wisdom, the patience, and the power to love my children and care for their souls comes from above. How blessed my children would be if I daily tapped into the Heavenly resources that so freely await me anytime I ask. Why is it that the “doing” is not quite as difficult as the “remembering to do?” I can remember to put gas in the car and change a diaper every few hours, but remembering that my babies hang on my every word and look to me for security and acceptance is far too great a task. What a sad, sad world I’ve created for myself. The power to become the mother I so desperately long to be God says is already within me, a treasure found in a jar of clay, cracked and flawed to let the light of a loving Father shine through for the world to see. I guess that’s a visual aid I can wrap my hands around. You know, the Bible speaks of clay again in Isaiah, as God is described as the potter and we, putty in His hands, so to speak.
Isaiah 64:8 Yet, O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.
Really, Father, really? I am putty in your hands, ever-changing, far from perfect and now I am expected to be the potter and take a spin on the wheel, molding my children from the ground up? Most days I’m lucky if I can carve a donut out of a can of neon pink Play-Doh and now I’m supposed to turn these two little mini-me’s into priceless works of art? God has quite a sense of humor, but I’ve heard it said that He does not call the qualified; He qualifies the called. So again, I wipe the cobwebs from the jar of clay collecting dust on this shelf I call my heart and offer up this simple prayer. I can only hope to someday fashion treasures not perfect and refined as we will someday be, but loved and loving, worn and weathered, flawed just enough to let the beauty and wonder of your love shine through for all to see. The treasure we claim in our jars of clay is not the work of our hands we pridefully exhibit to a world hungry for success, but the work of the cross we humbly preach to a world thirsty for redemption.
I woke up this morning pondering what lessons I would teach my children today and found instead, that I am learning more from them on this journey than they are from me. In their eyes, I’ve seen fear and anxiety, anticipation of what their day will look like based on my mood. I’ve seen the reflection of a tired, worn down, impatient girl longing for some quiet time who now understands that I am no longer just the clay, I am a potter as well. I am a sheep and a shepherd. I am a child and a mother. I am a canvas and an artist. There is one thing my children did learn from me today though. I taught them that their mommy has a lot to learn, but she is a humble “student,” a blank slate, an empty page, and God is the author and perfector of her faith.
Lord, teach my babies that though their mommy is finite, You are infinite – in wisdom, in love, and in boundless grace. Amen.