I have always longed to be a mother. From a very young age I knew that I wanted to be called "mommy" and stay at home with my little ones. My own mother was an excellent one and always portrayed a real joy in her job as a wife, a mom, and a homemaker. I would imagine part of my desire came from God's design and part of it came from watching my own mom be a mom with pure joy and gladness.
It's funny, though, how different motherhood is than all of the things we imagine it to be when we daydream as young girls. Some of my daydreams have proven to be absolutely true... I love my children more than I could have dreamed possible. We laugh together. We play together. We giggle, sing, and dance together. My children rest in my arms and on my lap while I play with their hair. They tell me all about their favorite part of their day while I listen with wide eyes and ears. Motherhood, in many ways, is really quite a surreal joy!
But motherhood has also proven to be one of the hardest things I've ever done... I've been called ugly names, distrusted, yelled at, swung at. I've heard things I never thought I'd hear and had things thrown at me. My mom once asked me if my husband and I knew how to make children that were not strong willed... So far, it looks like our recipe includes a dash of "strong will", but our fourth little blessing is still baking so I cannot be sure. Though he is the most active child I've ever carried so I would not be surprised if his recipe was quite similar to his siblings. Update: J.R. Matz was recently born and he too hash a dash or two of "strong will"! And while these difficult moments have no doubt caused heartache, confusion, and exhaustion, I am truly grateful for the will of my children. I pray continually that God would save our children in His timing and, if He does, use their incredible will to do mighty things for His glory! It takes a fierce determination to serve a holy God and that is only becoming more and more true as the climate of our culture changes. I praise God that He has sovereignly equipped my children with the strength they will need to follow Him, Lord willing!
I know, however, that God has not just given me strong children for their sake. He has hand selected each of my babies to be born into our home for my sake. And for my husband's sake. Children that He knew would push the boundaries, try my patience, and lead me to physical and mental exhaustion at times. But I have had to ask myself, "Why am I so exhausted by it all?" The answer was clear and convicting. I am being worn down because I am trying to fix it! I am trying to change the direction of my children's hearts. I am trying to make them love others. I am trying to make them more self-controlled and obedient. How foolish!
Now before you call foul because this all seems like things we, as parents, are supposed to do, let me explain... While it is absolutely our biblical call to train and direct our children, it is not our job to do the work of changing their hearts. We simply cannot do that! And when we try to we are only setting ourselves up for continual frustration and discouragement. But, when we see our role much more simply, as the corrector and director, we can move forward with ease and without all of the emotion. My job is to recognize disobedience, address it, correct it, and then move on. And that might be my job one hundred times in one day, but that is the extent of it. I am not tasked with replacing the engine. I am tasked with caring for and maintaining the existing engine. And that might mean that I need to rewire some things along the way, but I cannot replace it!
So, what does that look like in our home? It looks like freedom, I'll tell you what! When I see one of my sweet kiddos doing something that I have already asked them not to do, I do NOT have to get frustrated and exasperated. Remember... recognize, address, correct, and move on! I can gently bring it to their attention, give clear direction, administer a consequence, and then move on with our day. I am free at that point to continue with whatever we were doing together. And, more importantly, I am free to continue enjoying my children! I am no longer burdened with frustration or bitterness over their continued disobedience. Maybe that sounds too easy. Too good to be true. Well, it's not, and I'll tell you why...
Because God is the giver of new hearts. God is the changer or men (and children). God is the One... not me! I am just the mom. A powerful role, no doubt, but not the ultimate role. So often I have found myself trying to reason with my children about why they should behave differently. What an aimless pursuit... I need to reason with their Creator! I need to beg God daily for a new heart in my children... and I do! I ask Him daily. Some days more frequently than others. But there is a freedom in letting the "fixing" of my children and their sin belong to Him and not trying to claim it for my own. There is a great freedom in addressing my children's sin with them as it presents itself and then silently, in my own thoughts, beseeching the Lord to correct it in the way that only He can.
In order to be a good mom, I need to be a praying mom! I need to spend more time on my knees asking for the Lord's help than I spend on my knees reasoning with my children. They are not the answer. I am not the answer. Christ, alone, is the answer! When we rest in our lack of power and authority over the hearts and minds of our children, it is then that we are truly able to love them genuinely and freely.
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