I do learn so much from my children. They teach me so much about God and about myself. I definitely did not understand how God could love us (disobedient, obstinate people) so much, but now I do. I love my children so much that it hurts, even when they directly disobey me and give me an angry face in response to my reminders (hopefully gently stated, although not always). I guess that is where the learning about myself comes in – I have learned about my own sin more since having children. I used to think I was a pretty good person, but now I know that I am messed up–someone who struggles to be patient and deals with frustration that bubbles up into anger pretty quick sometimes. The funny thing is that I am happier now than I was when I thought I was “pretty good” because the gospel has much deeper meaning to me. I see God more clearly for who He is and how incredibly radical His love and grace are, when I see myself more fully for who I am. Therefore I am able to value who I am IN CHRIST all the more, because I know it is not my own doing in any way. And that is the essence of true freedom. Grace appears, “training me to renounce ungodliness” (Titus 2:11-15) waaaay better than my resolutions ever did. I am a better mother to my children, a better wife, a better mentor to the students I work with, and a better friend when I walk in the freedom of that grace. Thank you LORD!
So what little things have my precious ones been doing lately that has caught my attention:
– Isaiah: my busy bookworm. Isaiah has a hunger for reading and figuring out how the world works, and has been consuming story books and even chapter books at an amazing rate. He loves legos and can focus on them for hours, creating fascinating things that reflect his active imagination, but he also loves using that imagination outside, digging and building and pretending with whatever he finds. He loves to learn about spiritual things, and likes to share his thoughts and conclusions if you can get him talking–he is such a deep thinker. He likes written instructions and rules, and will seek to follow them carefully. Yet, paradoxically, he has a tremendously difficult time focusing on verbal instructions, and often seems unable to follow through on them. He hates seeing anything involving disobedience in a movie or book (literally cannot keep watching or reading), yet he seems to be unable to see his own disobedience and disregard for rules in the moment because he is so focused on what he thinks “should be” that he doesn’t even know what he is doing. I am learning a lot being his mother because he is so honest and genuine and sensitive, and yet absentminded and unable to get outside of his thoughts (if that makes any sense). I am learning how to love him where he is and give him grace by figuring out how to communicate in ways that he will hear and (hopefully/prayerfully) internalize.
– Bethany: my little pixie. Bethany loves telling stories and pretending. She embodies the characters she makes up in her play. One thing that is true of Bethany is that her face (and the way she carries her whole body, really) is a perfect portal into what she is thinking and or imagining. When she is being a “dancer,” she has a confident, graceful air; when she is a “mommy,” she has a loving “I’m reminding you to behave” look; when she is a teacher, she has a “you really must know about this interesting fact” air about her. When she is watching something and/or listening to a story, I have only to look up at her face, and she gives me a melodramatic look to reveal what she is thinking about what is going on. And when she is disobeying, I see etched in her face either stubborn anger or complete devastation at having been found out. In being her mommy, I am learning how to walk in humility before her and with her, because I fear her biggest temptation will be to always “perform” for the approval of others. Knowing this is a weakness of mine, I long to model embracing the grace of God fully as a needy sinner.
– Judah: my active athlete. Judah makes us all smile all the time. He is in the stage of imitating every sound we make and motion we do. But he also has a mind of his own. He must throw or kick any and every ball he sees (even ones in stores). He must climb anything that he sees (including scary and particularly high stools and playground equipment). And he must tackle any family member who is sitting down in a position that is particularly “tackle-able” (whatever he thinks that means). He loves to say his own name (often claiming things as his own) and his brother and sister’s names. It is so cute how much he loves them and wants to be with them. He is also Mommy’s little cuddlebug. I love how he wraps his arms around my neck and squeezes, and how he curls his head onto my shoulder when he is tired and wants a cuddle. I am learning from him just how unique each child is, and how both loving on and disciplining must be adjusted to the needs of each child. He may be my second boy, but he is so different from Isaiah–it is fun to discover more and more of his personality each day.
I thank God for these precious gifts He has entrusted to me!