10 May 2014

Motherhood and the Blessing of Sight

We all know children are a blessing.

There are the obvious blessings:
the pride and joy,
the memories and companionship,
the cuteness and dependence,
the vicarious living.

Then there are the subtle blessings, the things you never expected to happen to you but are now grateful that they did. After nearly 6 years of being a mom, my hindsight is starting to work pretty well, and I can see blessings that, at first, had felt more like . . . well, torture.

Children help us see ourselves.

"I was such a good Christian before I had kids," someone wise and witty once said. It wasn't until my babies demanded everything I had to give (and more) that I realized my own selfish heart. Late night and early morning feedings, being on-call 24/7, the gift of your body for years, the emotional pull, the mental taxation, the constant counting "1-2-3: all here, all safe." Oh the exhaustion of living for four human beings instead of one.

Motherhood helps me to see what it really is to live unselfishly. It requires time, resources, abilities, concerns, desires--and I feel like I fail at these daily, but it's through this role that I improve. It's through motherhood that I feel God strip away my natural (and beforehand unknown) comfort zones so I can see my sin tendencies.

Did I see my impatience? No.
Did I see my pride? No.
Did I see my stubborn insistence on me-time? No.

Being a mom has made me see my sin, and I can come to God for healing and sanctification.
I can come to God and plead for His Spirit to make me more like Christ.

Another way children help us see ourselves is in the way they reflect us. As soon as they can, these little people become the best imitators on earth--copying our language, our reactions, our facial expressions, our habits. Oftentimes, by looking at them, we can see what we may have otherwise been blind to. 

James 1:22-24 talks about a man looking at himself in a mirror then walking away without doing anything about his grungy, disheveled appearance. It's how many people read the Bible, but it's also how many people treat confrontation too. When struck with something ugly, we can ignore it or do something about it. When we recognize a bad habit in our kids, we can blame them for it or look for signs of the same habit in ourselves.

Almost without fail, it's there. How many times have I prayed this with my kids? "Please help us all to be patient and not lose our tempers." It took me years to come to that point, but now I see the value in working through issues with my kids instead of pretending that I have no problems. And when I've had a bad day, I'll hear my daughter praying for me--a sweet plea for God to help Mommy be kind. Isn't that what we want them to learn--that God helps us moms too? I shudder to think of how I used to mask all my sin with an I-am-the-boss persona. "Mommy has a right to be angry because you are driving me crazy!" Hey, that's not helping anyone, least of all me.

Being a mom has made me see my reflection, and so as I work to build the character of my three children, I can simultaneously see and work on my own bad habits too.

Children help us see God.

God is a parent, and He is a disciplinarian. Both roles bring with it aching, compassion, sacrifice, and consistency. Having to fulfill those same demands on a much smaller scale, I can see and appreciate how my God fathers me.

His love pulls us together.
In love, He corrects me.
He involves Himself in my life because He loves me.

Just as a father 
has compassion on his children, 
So the Lord has compassion 
on those who fear Him
Psalm 103:13

Becoming a mom has been the hardest thing in my life . . . and the most sight-giving. I think back to the days when "I was such a good Christian" and laugh. Oblivion! It took my three blessings to show me myself and all that needed purifying. It took the heart-scarring of a bursting motherly love to show me the boundless compassion of my God.

Becoming a parent has helped me see myself as a child desperately dependent on my Father.

Happy Mother's Day,

Has motherhood likewise opened your eyes to new things? Will you share them with us?

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