Last week we celebrated Mother’s Day here in the US. Typically a day spent lavishing mom with accolades, thanksgiving, and gifts to praise her for the wonderful hard work she puts in day and day out living out her role as mom. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy those accolades, especially as someone who thrives on encouragement in life in order to keep fighting the good fight, but more often than not, especially on Mother’s Day I find myself typically pondering the gift motherhood has brought into my own life.
So many gifts, where to begin? I suppose at the beginning, at conception. I began to learn then that motherhood would be an opportunity for me to learn more about myself, provide this emotional and spiritual connection to parts of me that were once closed off. During my first pregnancy, I found myself fearful at times and not able to fully live into the joy and excitement that the anticipation of a new life could bring. This fear was new to me and one day I took the courage to sit with it in the presence of God. I asked that scared side of me to come out so I could know it better and I was startled at the wash of emotion that came over me. For the first time in my life it was revealed to me my need to control life and to put in the effort on my part to control the outcome that came my way. God gently showed me that life is in his hands, this baby’s life and my life and would I trust him, fully trust? If this baby’s life were to end that day, the next or 100 years from now, he would still be God and his love would not waiver so I could stand each day on that hope.
God continued (and continues) to reveal his steadfast nature to me through motherhood. When I held my newborn child for the first time and that overwhelming love welled up from somewhere inside I was overcome. And somehow, magically it happens each and every time God gifts us with another child. As I snuggle and nurse and breathe in the beauty that is my child I realized that this is only a tiny fraction of the love that God feels for me, his child. The words I speak over my children to describe God’s love to them, “God loves you because you are his. Not because of what you do, but because you are precious to him, always,” begin to sink deeper into my own heart because of my reflection of love that I have for my own children. God loves me because I am his precious child and I am his.
As the years of motherhood stretch on God continues to reveal more of my sin nature to me through these little mirrors of self that are walking around with me every day. My kids will develop a pattern of saying something that I just don’t like, where did they get that from? Oh, me. I never realized what an angry person I can become when I feel out of control of a situation, but enter in a child who loves to push the boundaries and that anger just rises to the top to rear it’s ugly head over and over again. We want more for our kids, to send them off into the world to give away kindness and hope and love and I know those patterns must start in our home so once again I must sit with God to coax out into the light all those default, sinful ways, the thorns that have been for years choking out seed that God wants to flourish in my heart. God can only heal that which is in the light.
It’s important along the way of this parenting journey to read books about child behavior and how-to’s, but I have found that the greatest parenting tool is in surrendering my heart to God, letting his light heal these parts me that through parenting have been revealed to me and transform me little by little into the unique expression of the likeness of him I meant to become. As I am transformed into that person then I can give it away, live it as an example to my kids. When my boundary pusher pushes, instead of offering him yelling and anger in response, I can give him a gentle answer, which always turns away wrath, and a hug of understanding. Instead of telling my kids to obey because I said so, I can look to them as individuals, offer them patience and study the unique way to nurture each of them, to cultivate the soil of their hearts so their future might bring fewer thorns and more fertile ground for the word of God to yield crops, 10, 20, 100 fold what is planted over the years in their heart.
Motherhood has given me a long-term view of life. It’s not just about who they are now, it’s about who they will become and same is true for me. So I find the fruit of patience and mostly grace being my default these days. I’m only into this motherhood thing for eight years now and I know I have a lot more to glean from it, but I’m thankful for the trajectory I’ve started on, thankful that I have my kids with me along the way, as we all learn about forgiveness and grace and love together. I love those little people, because they are his, and they are a beautiful gift in my life.