Monday, 16 July 2012

Loving our Children

As mothers, we have a natural tendency and desire to love and serve our children.  Those precious little babes that we brought into this world fill up our hearts with such joy that we can’t help but want to shower them with love and attention.


Then there are other times when those ‘precious little babes’ are throwing a record-breaking fit all because you said, “No, we’re not going to have a snack right now,” and suddenly you are the biggest villain in the world, and it’s 9:30 in the morning and this is their third massive blow-out today and you’re ready to go back to bed and call it a day already.

Titus 2:4 talks about, “train[ing] the younger women to love their husbands and children.”  There’s a reason that we need to be ‘trained’ how to love our husbands and children: it’s hard work!  While we are naturally gifted in some degree to love them, in our fallen state there’s something lacking.  We are sinners, trying to love other sinners, and that’s a messy situation.  Wouldn’t it be so much easier to be a model Mom if your kids always obeyed and never fought with you?  But the reality is, it never really works out like that, and that’s why we need to be trained to love even those whom we naturally feel most compelled to love. 
While one of our best sources of this training is intended to be older, more experienced women (see Titus 2:3), our primary sources should be the instruction found in scripture itself, and the grace poured out by our Heavenly Father. 
Referring to scripture, James 1:19-20 says, “Take note of this, my dear brothers: everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the kind of righteous living that God desires.”  This is an excellent reminder for Mothers!  While we may be justified in how we are upset that our children are disobeying, is our reaction justified?  Or is it sinful?  And even our anger  – anger is not a bad thing in and of itself, but the bible instructs us to be slow to get there.   Consider: am I upset because I’m focused on my own schedule and things I feel I need to get done?  Or am I really focused on serving my child and helping him when he/she needs it?  I think a lot of the time we’ll find that our frustration is actually rooted in selfish motives.  We can’t get something done because our kids keep bugging us.  We just cleaned the house and now the kids want to play.  We want the kids to sleep so we can get our nightly chores done.  While cleaning our house and getting things done is not wrong, our priorities may be and our kids may be voicing a justified desire for us to engage more actively with them.  A fresh perspective can open up storehouses of patience.  Another such perspective which can help, particularly during seasons of illness or teething, is to ask yourself if you would rather have another woman watching your children, comforting them and caring for them at all hours.  I don’t know a single mother who would rather have another woman in their place, inconvenient as it may be.  And when all else fails, God will not.  If we are trying to glorify Him by serving our children, we can have faith that He will sustain us.  The natural affection we have for our children may occasionally be tried by the demands of the practical application, but what is lacking in our fallen nature God can and will perfect according to His will. 

Scripture also reveals to us the perfect example of God the Father.  While older women may occasionally give bad advice (over-indulgence to the children, overly-strict households, self-centered parenting, etc), the perfect parenting model has always been shown to us in the Bible; a Father who exhibits undying love and unsurpassed patience with His people, who will rebuke, restore, refine and redeem them without an unjust harshness or a momentary-lapse in judgement.  Watch a toddler stubbornly go his own way repeatedly and disobey time and time again, and ask yourself if you haven’t acted the same towards your Heavenly Father.  And yet God has never dealt unfairly, or over-indulged us simply to keep us appeased, or desired us to just go away so the He could get something done.  He disciplines, but He does so for our benefit.  He rebukes, but He does it through love.  He takes away, but He is never unjust. 

And when we feel like crying foul about our life situation and complaining to God about our lack of things or the difficulties we are going through, perhaps we need to remember then, too, that we are just like the screaming, angry, unaware toddler that can’t see that his parents are working to do their best for him.

We’re praying this week:
That we can see the example of God the Father and apply it to our household.
That we can realize how our children can serve as a mirror of our own relationship with God, and that we’ll pray for grace to improve and mature in His sight. 
For patience and perspective as we deal with our children.
To be reminded that “man’s anger does not bring about the kind of righteous living that God desires,” as we deal with our children and husbands. 

To God be the glory, forever and ever, Amen!

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