The past couple months have been difficult in a season of daily difficulties. Little things, usually revolving around 2-year-olds, have been getting to me, and I’ve been struggling with my temper daily.
This bothers me. Me not being cool and collected bothers me. I don’t know if it has always bothered me, or if I’ve just never thought much of it before, but either way, I don’t want to be this person anymore. I’ve been trying so hard to be kind, to rein in my anger, to not say the biting things that come to the tip of my tongue, and, as often as not, roll out of my mouth like a steam roller, flattening the people around me into sad little pancakes of remorse. I’ve been trying so hard, and I haven’t made any improvement. I’m discouraged.
This whole mom thing is so hard. I was telling some friends last weekend that I think it’s a purification process, that I’ve never, in any other stage of my life, had anyone make me so angry, so often, as my kids do. And, frustratingly, they are exactly the last people in the world that I actually want to treat poorly! The regret that I feel after giving one of my tiny people a tongue-lashing is so fierce. I repeat, the regret is fierce. Devastating, some days. I’ve been living under a cloud, and some days I feel unable to even smile from the guilt of today and yesterday and all the days before. And then I feel guilty for not feeling happy to be with my precious littles. I just can’t win.
Simultaneously, I’ve been feeling a burden in my heart for the other moms I know. Burdened with the hardness of their lives, and feeling like I can’t help them physically or even emotionally, since I can’t even seem to be able to help myself. I mean, what can I offer? One friend has 4 kids, including 2 year-old twins and a newborn, and her hubby just got a new job that is demanding a LOT of his time. I wish I could help. One friend has a special needs daughter and an infant. She doesn’t even know how to parent her special needs girl some days. I wish I could help her. One friend is single, with 3 kids and a fourth on the way. I wish I could help her. One friend has 3 kids with a huge range of allergies, and she home-schools her oldest 2, while she runs an in-home daycare. I wish I could help her. The burdens we all carry!
I just wanted to tell all of us (myself included) that we just need to stand tall. In strength and dignity. We should be able to laugh in the face of danger. We’re queens, after all. Brides of Christ, heirs of the Kingdom that will outlast all other kingdoms and dominions. But I couldn’t. I just couldn’t. We talked a while about listening to the Holy Spirit for wisdom in figuring this whole thing out, but I felt like I was missing something important. All week I’ve been praying about what this “thing” is, and somehow, I feel as if each day this week God has given me a little piece of a big puzzle. I won’t pretend to see the whole picture, but I think I’ve seen a tiny little corner.
It started with a tearful prayer binge (is that a thing? when you binge on prayer? I feel like it should be a thing. It’s so satisfying, after all.) As soon as I was done crying out to God that all of my good intentions are getting me absolutely nowhere, and that this is so frustrating to me, I read Ephesians 4:17-32:
“Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!- assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off you old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
In light of my earlier confession of anger issues, this passage was convicting to me. I thought that maybe putting on the “new man” was the key to me changing my way of life. But it felt like another set of rules that I would try to hold myself to, just as I’d already been holding myself to rules and failing all the time. So read it again. And again. The next day I got out my old KJV and the Strong’s Concordance and started looking up the meaning of words in Greek. It was therapeutic, but didn’t dispel the feeling that I was missing something important. Something about laughing in the face of danger. So the next day I decided to read Ephesians chapter 5. I didn’t get past verse 1. Here’s what it says:
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.”
Read that again… Now, read it again… We’re supposed to imitate God because we are His loved children. Just like my little children imitate me (this terrifies me because I am so imperfect), I am to imitate God. Imitation comes with time spent together, and as love is exchanged. Because I am beloved I can imitate God.
I am not loved for my goodness, but loved because God is good enough to love me even to the point of giving up Himself for me. THIS is why I should stand tall in dignity and strength. I can stand in dignity and strength because I am deeply and dearly loved. I stand on the Rock, Christ Himself, sure of His love, no matter what I do to mess everything up. No matter what happened today, or yesterday or all the days before, and no matter what happens tomorrow, or all the days after, I can stand tall because Jesus doesn’t love based on my performance. Jesus loves because He simply can’t help Himself. It’s literally who He is. He couldn’t be anything but loving any more than an elephant can be anything other than an elephant.
I came to the conclusion today that the reason I’ve felt so disjointed lately is because I’ve been spending so much time thinking about my own wrong actions, and so little time thinking about the beautiful, unforgettable, world-shaking action of Jesus giving Himself up on a bloody cross for messed-up us, simply because He couldn’t stop the deep, unquenchable love in His heart, and He had to make a way for us to be with Himself forever. No, we do not deserve that love or forgiveness, and no, we NEVER will. Never. We can never deserve His love.
He died because we can never deserve it. If we could be good enough on our own effort, He wouldn’t have had to die. But we can’t. So we should stand tall, remembering the sacrifice Jesus made for us, knowing that we can’t be good enough to deserve that kind of love, but holding our heads high, because it doesn’t matter who did what any more. Jesus finished it. It is DONE. We can laugh in the face of danger because we are loved, and our Daddy holds us, even in the difficulty.
Mamas, you stand tall. You are loved. Your sin is forgiven. You are held. You are seen. You are a queen. You stand up and laugh in the face of danger.