Thursday, April 28, 2011

no to my flesh, yes to my children

God is patient with me.  He shows me something new about mothering, and then keeps whispering it.  Sometimes I continue on for weeks, business as usual, as though deaf.  But He doesn't give up on me, and for that, I'm so grateful.

He showed me some time ago that what kind of mother I am--whether selfless or selfish--is dependent on little decisions I make all day long.

I am task-oriented, not people-oriented, as I've stated before.  It's my greatest weakness as a mother.  But by God's grace, I am changing.

My children need me.  My body for nursing and cuddling and kissing.  My ear for listening.  My smile for encouraging.  My patience for teaching.  My heart for extending grace.

Now, I say yes to the toddler who wants to go outside and ride her tricycle.  I take her out to the driveway and follow her around on her bike, keeping her out of the street.

If the dryer buzzes for the second time, and my seven-year-old Paul comes to me, miserable, with swollen eyes from his spring allergies, I stop everything and hold him close on the couch, praying that God will take away the itch--providing my suffering Paul some grace through my love and attention.

If my Peter is hounding me with bird talk, following me around, I say yes to him.  I sit on the couch, telling him I have time now, to listen.  Tell me about your bird dreams, Son.

If Mary comes to my bed to cuddle, right at the time my stomach rumbles for food, I say yes.  Ten minutes in Momma's loving arms blesses her so. She loves to start her day this way, and is crushed when it can't be.

A selfless mother says yes, more often than no. She makes little decisions all day long that bless her children--at the expense of feeding her own flesh.

What ways do we feed our own flesh, as mothers?  What keeps us from saying yes to our kids--to their legitimate needs for attention and stimulation?  What seems more important than nurturing their hearts?

Well, for one thing, the state of our home. We want it tidy enough to avoid being shamed, lest someone come unannounced.  And we want the personal peace that absence of clutter brings.

People have come here unannounced--seeing untidiness in my home. And yes, they did judge--I saw it in their eyes.  And for a long time after that, I put my children off regularly, while I sought the approval of others.

I worked on deeds that were seen, versus unseen.

Rocking a fussy toddler is unseen.  A clean kitchen after breakfast is seen.

Reading the Bible to children is unseen.  Dishes done immediately after lunch is seen.

Listening to an enthusiastic bird watcher is unseen.  A tidy bathroom is seen.

Corporate prayer with one's children is unseen.  A vacuumed carpet is seen.

Cuddling with a miserable allergy sufferer is unseen.  Folded laundry is seen.

Reading stories to the preschooler is unseen.  A swept floor is seen.

Yes, we need to avoid filth, but untidiness and clutter go with the young-children-at-home territory.  By embracing this fact, we free ourselves to bless our children--who are in our midst just a short time.

Another way we feed our flesh, as mothers, is to indulge our interests and hobbies, without restraint.  Being a stay-at-home mother is hard, thankless work. Consequently, almost all of us develop an escape mechanism, of some type--scrapbooking, checking e-mail, talking on the phone, social networking, etc.  Having such an outlet is valuable, but doing it in moderation is imperative.

It was months ago that God pointed it out to me--a selfless mother says yes, more often than no.

Nowadays, the Holy Spirit speaks to me daily on this.  And I listen.  There's still plenty of growth needed, but I'm learning to say no to my flesh, and yes to my children.

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