"And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." Romans 5:2-4
This past week I have found myself to be a bit emotional. I’m a mom of small children. I’m a 30-something woman. It’s part of the job description.
So I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised when I ended up in tears by the end of church on Sunday. Pastor’s sermon was painfully honest with me. About how even Paul recognized his inability to do what he ‘wants’ to do – Romans 7:15 “For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” We are miserable sinners. Ouch. And I sat there and thought about other people who seem to think they CAN DO good and how they need to hear this. Then I realized what I was doing and took a painful look in the mirror. And Pastor talked about how the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ are within us, constantly struggling for control. While I knew everything he was saying was true and right, I found myself really having a hard time trying to figure out how I can live the life God wants me to live.
It was hard.
Then at the end of the service my oldest baby -already 7! – got up to perform in public for the first time ever. She and her piano teacher were to do a duet during the postlude. Normally this would be background music, but today some special guests were to present after the service… and so please direct your attention to our short piano piece first! My heart tightened. I was so nervous for her. She does not like everyone looking at her!!
She started out strong. It sounded great. Then something happened and the two of them were trying to figure out who was doing what… and my girl tried really hard to salvage things.. and then they finished. She quickly walked back, careful to avoid any eye-contact, and started playing with her little brother as if she had been sitting with us the whole while.
I smiled at her and told her how proud I was. She wouldn’t look at me, just kept smiling and talking to her brother. A wave of emotions swept over me - especially the tsunami of insecurity, fear, and can-we-just-pretend-that-didn’t-happen. But they weren’t my own. They were the feelings I could see in my daughter’s face.
It was hard.
Moments later I couldn’t handle it anymore. I made it into the stall before the flood of tears came – my own insecurity, self-disgust, and fears bubbling to the surface as I desperately prayed to be a good mom. "I know I say the wrong thing frequently, Lord..” I pleaded. “But give me the right words today for my baby. I want her to know she did a great job and I don’t want her to hear any criticism in my voice…” It’s an area I am very familiar with. I was taught it well and so criticism comes easier. Much easier than pure, fabulous approval.
It’s hard to learn.
And it’s hard to watch our babies learn. I want to take it away – all the painful moments, all the insecurities, the confusion about self - the suffering! But I know I can’t. I know that God is molding my babies into incredible children of Christ – heirs to the greatest gift. I know that it is thru these moments that my children learn the most about themselves and the grace of God and the love of people and their Maker. What would I do without these Truths? How could I be a mother in this moment without them? I don’t even want to think about that. I’d rather hold on to the Hope of Christ.
Lord God, Father of all – lift me up as a parent. Help me to understand the truths about myself, so that I can better teach my children. Help me to understand the Truths about You, so that I can better teach my children. Hold on to me when the suffering sweeps past and threatens to knock me down. Fill me up with your spirit and make me the mother you have asked me to be. Amen.