Bryant has long made fun of me (i.e. complained) about our living room fireplace not being conducive to building a fire. This is because a couple years ago, my mother and I decided it would be pretty, year around, to fill it with a multitude of candles and mirrors (to reflect the light, of course. We were only being efficient with our fireplace lighting. We really should manage Pinterest).
A few nights ago, after a particularly long day of temper tantrums, cutting teeth, and tired, fussiness for the kiddos, I decided to light these candles while our family relaxed the few minutes before bedtime.
(To my 2009 moms at Hope… you know why… Sally would have been so proud.)
I looked over from my spot on the couch to see Meda standing by the screen, staring in at the candles.
Maybe it was the candle light.
Maybe it was how sweetly she gazed at the candles.
(Or maybe it was the realization that candles and mirrors were definitely the way to go.)
But I had to snap a picture (or six) on my phone of her. It was definitely an Instagram worthy photo.
A little later, as I swiped through the pictures I took of her, a wave of pressure pressed in – hard. I felt I was being reminded of my responsibilities as a parent. You know, the responsibilities besides taking cute candlelight pictures to post on Instagram and other various social media sites. The responsibilities where I need to provide not only physical and material needs for my people, but also help & support them emotionally… and above all, just love on them.
You see, that day I had met all the major requirements of the Parenting Handbook:
Easy enough, right?
Wrong. If you are or were a parent of young ones, you know that list of 7 items is pretty brutal in the day-to-day. Looking back through that list and those candlelit pictures of my youngest, I realized I’d missed something.
Okay, hang on… before you get all “What?? You Don’t Love Your Kids?!?” on me, keep reading.
I wasn’t just missing love (clearly – I love my kids with every fiber of my being), but I’d missed the things that come along with love – patience, kindness, gentleness, self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)
I had lost my temper multiple times that day, and behaved like every mommy blog and Pinterest quote tells you NOT to. (On second thought, I should definitely NOT be in charge of Pinterest.) Though let’s be honest, in the trenches – where you are screamed at by a bossy 5-Going-On-16 year old because you took away the iPad, and feces-covered diapers are hurled at your head by a badger-esque toddler – it is easy to skip over things like patience and self-control. Especially self-control.
Turns out, this whole “parenting” thing is a pretty tough job.
And most days, I’m not cut out for it.
Scratch that – every day I’m not cut out for it.
But on just enough days, I get the Help and Encouragement needed to get them and myself through… (alive, at least).
And you know what? My kids have turned out pretty stinkin’ alright.
Not because of me, but in spite of me.
But from now on, I’m going to intentionally make a effort to keep the fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) part of my day-to-day, while swimming through the trenches. Maybe it’ll be easier if I keep Matthew 18 in mind, where Jesus discusses treatment due to people. Verse 5 specifically states (KJVA):
And who shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.
Those who receive a child (by providing love and kindness on top of the physical, emotional, and spiritual as already mentioned), is receiving Christ, who is in the child.
Jesus not only provides support for us, as parents, (through His Word, communities, and finances he provides) but blesses us when we receive His children as our own. (Hebrews 6:10)
Do you hear that? Let me say it again.
He BLESSES us.
Sure, it’s easy to love our own children (most of the time…), but when we show kindness to them (who, if you’ve forgotten, just happen to be God’s children first), especially when we don’t want to, we will receive a reward. (Matthew 10:40-42 & Proverbs 25:40)
(I’m personally hoping my reward will be in the version of an all expense paid trip to Fiji. But we’ll see…)
(Just kidding. I don’t expect for God to send me to Fiji.)
(But, for the record, I wouldn’t say no if He offered.)
God is not unjust. He will remember what we’ve done. (Matthew 25:40)
So my goal is to consciously keep in step with the goodness that Instagram-worthy picture represents to me.
When I’m on the edge I’ll give…
After all, Christ did this for me.