Devotion for the Week...
Happy belated Mother's Day to all you moms out there! I hope you had a great day. When asked in church yesterday what makes his mom special, Nathan answered, "She's a mom." One of the other ladies in the church said after, "I knew exactly what he meant. Doesn't that say it all, really?"
I love being Mom to my three boys, and I wouldn't change it for the world, but last week Paul took all three of them out of town for an overnight trip and I spent an entire evening all by myself. Even now that my boys are older and don't require nearly as much constant attention, it was still a nice treat to be alone. No one asking me to do anything for them, or asking if they could get a snack, or asking if they could (fill in the blank). I didn't have to do the bedtime routine with Nathan, or pay attention to the time to make sure Aiden and Zach got to bed on time. The next morning I had a quiet breakfast and, since I didn't have to pack any school lunches, I even got to sew for about 20 minutes before the kids I babysit started showing up. It was so relaxing!
On the flip side, though, it was wonderful when they all got home that evening and I could hear about their day. It was nice to have their company for supper again, to say prayers with Nathan as I tucked him in and
Being a mom can be hard. (Being a dad can be hard too, and if you're a dad reading this, all of it is just as applicable to you, so just change all the moms to dads as you read, okay?) Kids have a tendency to take up a lot of time and energy, especially when they're young. Time and energy that we may have wanted to spend on other things, like maybe sleeping or reading or quilting or talking with other adults. There are times when it's hard not to resent all those demands, no matter how much we love our kids.
And yet, when we're able to keep our perspective, to remember that these kids of ours are growing up remarkably fast and won't always need us like this (or even live with us!), then it's easier to find joy in serving them. Being mom is kind of funny that way...if we try to cling to our own wants, the things we want to do by ourselves or for ourselves, then we lose out on so much. But when we give of ourselves to serve our kids, then we can watch them flourish and we can enjoy the relationships we develop with them as they grow. These things are so much more meaningful than any of the selfish things we wanted to do could ever have been.
In a way, living this way as a mom is a lesson in living as a disciple of Jesus. Talking to his disciples, Jesus said, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it" (Matthew 16:24, 25). In other words, whoever clings to their own selfish desires and lives entirely for themselves will gain nothing. They'll end up losing their chance at eternal life and a relationship with God. But those who put aside their selfishness and live for God, they are the ones who will find eternal life, who will find abundant life beyond anything they could have created for themselves, and who will have the richness of a relationship with the God who loves them.
I know what kind of mom I want to be and I know what kind of disciple I want to be. I bet you do too. That doesn't mean I get either one right all the time, though. I have to fight against my desire to be selfish, both so I can be a good mom to my boys and so I can serve God the way I should. That selfishness shows up in the times I feel put out or annoyed because one of the boys needs or asks me to do something I don't want to do. It shows up in those times when I cringe inwardly when I'm asked to play a game when I'd rather just keep doing what I want to do. It also shows up in the way I don't always think to pray for others, or to ask people how I could pray for them, because I'm focused so much on my own family and our concerns. Though your triggers may be different, I'm willing to bet that selfishness rears its ugly head in your life too. Am I right?
Fighting selfishness isn't easy and it's not a one time battle that we can win once and then never think about it again. Unfortunately, it's an everyday kind of battle, but if we want a good relationship with our children (and all of our family and friends, really) and if we want a good relationship with God, then the fight is essential.
The best way to live our lives is to commit to losing them. Only then will we gain a life worth living.