I sat my Bible down in my lap and pondered the words of my morning devotion time. Early quiet time with the Lord has been a life changing habit of mine for over a year now.
My eyes surveyed our currently uninhabited family room and as they did my heart tumbled. This room had been the scene for more trouble than I cared to remember of late. To simply say that the kids had been quarreling would not do justice to the level of tension in our home caused by an exponential number of relationships under strain. I can practically see the scene from yesterday afternoon…The two year old and five year olds are fighting over their toy cars – again. The exasperated eight year old barks a command to stop fighting. I haven’t finished correcting said ‘barker’ before the two year old is biting the the five year old and the injured party begins to scream – loud and long. Big brother comes out of his room annoyed because he can’t do his school with all of the noise. All eyes turn to me to see what I will do to fix this.
So many relationships. So many character flaws. And for me, this so-called seasoned mama, I don’t even know where to begin.
I make a feeble attempt at consequences including quiet times, loss of toys combined with counsel and prayer. Despite these interventions I can’t help but feel that we are sliding down a slippery slope of self-centeredness and pride. It is too big for me. I feel powerless to help. I know that it stems from selfishness. James pinned it when he pointedly stated, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from the desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.” James 4:1-2
This is the down-in-the-trenches part of motherhood – gritty, hard, seemingly unforgiving. Yet, incredibly, we were made for this. We were made to bring light, beauty and love into these dark and dreary places.
And so against hope (because I have little) and despite discouragement (because the fiery darts of doubt are flying heavy) I fill the kettle with water and slice some cake. I can hear the kids playing in the other room and I pray that I can get the table set before another battle breaks out.
Finished, I call the kids to the table set with little china tea cups and thick slices of cake with bright pink frosting. Cake! At 10:00am! Is that for me? I encourage the joy, resisting the guilt-provoking thought that I may be bribing my kids with sugar. We sit and just enjoy eating together for a time before I pull out my family devotion guide. I skip the intro, the basics about God, and get right to the chapter on relationships.
I read from John how we are commanded to love one another, like Jesus loved us. Now that starts quite the conversation.
Whether it was the sugar or the fellowship I’m not sure, but the mood is lifted.We talk about character and serving and how our goal is Christlike love and how we all fall short – even moms and dads. I freeze this moment in my mind – everyone laughing, talking and enjoying one another.
Dear sweet, discouraged mama,
Do you feel like giving up? It’s okay. We all do.
Do what needs to be done. Do the next thing.
Put on a cheerful countenance. (Proverbs 15:13)
Bless your children. It is the kindness of God that leads to repentance. (Romans 2:4)
Think positively. Whatever things are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous or praiseworthy – think on these things. (Paraphrase of Philipians 4:8)
And above all, be thankful. (Colossians 3:15)
A Mom Who Knows