Life in a family with children can be, at times, most times, messy. It is one drama after another if you have teens. One mess after another with all ages of families as they always seem to keep eating and creating dirty dishes and making messes. Children fuss no matter what method you use and no matter what book you have bought–especially with personality differences rubbing against the grain.
All in my family are sinful, including me! which means there are moods and attitudes and ups and downs. There are illnesses–mental, emotional, physical and spiritual–that make relationships a challenge–many of us carry baggage from our past lives that creep into our marriage, the way we view life and treat our husbands, and the ways we view and treat our children. Oh, if we could only take some of the things we said back or start over again, we could do a better job!
I remember often thinking as I learned new things about myself and repented from some bad habits and ways of dealing with my family, that I needed to have more children so that at least on one child I could get it right.
Yet, now, as I get older, I have collected some perspective. God has used the humbling circumstances of having a family and being married to bring me to my knees. He has used these very circumstances to humble me–and to thus develop more compassion for others who also struggle. What good would I have been to myself, my children or my husband to have remained a self-confident, pompous Pharisee–who was assured of right philosophy?
God’s ultimate desire was to do heart surgery that I didn’t realize I needed–in order to little by little make my heart and character more like Christ’s–and so He sovereignly used my family and children to chisel the blemishes and deficiencies away.
I have realized that part of my problem is that I am a faint-hearted and conflict-resistant at heart–I do not like difficulty or challenges and tire of the process. Yet, God somehow knew that deep in my heart, I wanted to hold fast to faith and trust Him and persevere than to get my own way–which would lead to my destruction.
Yet, the advantage I have is that I have perspective, from having lived through so many seasons and seeing that in spite of my fretting, stresses and fears, God was there all the time, working, showing faithfulness and being patient with me in the process.
It takes practice–to do and pursue what is true and right. I have seen the Lord bring me through so many such courses. A key, however was learning to choose to believe and listen to His voice and word. When I come into His presence and spend time in his word, He has been there for me–I didn’t always feel His presence, but I took His word and promises at face value and rested in them and then practiced taking steps of faith, one day, one issue at a time. And now I can look back and see that He has used each part of the journey to shape me–my character, my love, my humility and compassion and learning to rest in Him. But the more I have learned to put all of my issues into his hands (along with my feelings of loneliness, fear, weariness and deep emotion), I have learned to leave them there–with Him who is able and will accomplish His will in His time in my life.
These verses have been some of my anchors:
1. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, in prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God, and the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guard you hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (I need heart and mind guarding so that I don’t spend unnecessary energy and time on worrying–so I give it into His hands and picture him taking everything and working on my behalf as his daughter.)
2. “In this world you have tribulation, but take courage, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33b The definition of courage is: the ability of facing difficulty, danger, fear or pain without being overcome by present circumstances and instead acting with resolve and strength of mind and behavior. I have made a decision of my will to take courage–practicing being strong, practicing habits of putting one foot in front ot the other to believe in a good outcome from a Father who is good. Courage is believing and behaving as though God will indeed be faithful. These habits create a life of faithfulness which lays a foundation of a life well-lived and well-built.
3. “For I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances and I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and having need. I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.” I have had to grow in character as I walk in God’s ways–to stretch my capacity to work, to stretch my capacity to love–to resist the down feelings and to learn to cultivate a content attitude and to practice being joyful in front of my children and family.
It has been through these things that I have had to grow up–but obeying the Lord in these places has made me more the person I wanted to be. Obedience usually leads me to peace and ultimate joy. I can indeed only do all that I have to do in the power of His Holy Spirit–not by might or by power–but by His spirit. I can, by faith, and by putting one foot in front of the other, do all things through Christ who gives me strength.
I have told my children that it is best to decide to like and embrace God’s will–because having a bad attitude about it will not make it go away and indeed will make the pressures and circumstances worse. I have also noticed that bad attitudes or depressed feelings or content feelings behave much like plants in garden. If I water and nurture the depressed or negative attitudes they are what grow even stronger. If I water and fertilize faith and obedience, they are what grows.
I am a wimp at heart and was never prepared to have such responsibilities. I do think it helps all of us to know that we all feel overwhelmed and most moms never get the break they deserve. (That is why you brave and generous women are my heroines!) But I see that those sweet moms who find themselves able to persevere, to not remain in a complaining spirit, to trust God, are building in their homes wonderful souls who reflect the gold of their mother’s multiple decisions of faith in God’s word. These children are developing into great people and God knows it is because of the faithful labor of His precious mothers who knew that their labor would result in godly generations.
I must off to start on my list of to dos and to pray fors -but this is my prayer for all of you precious ones in the midst of your labors today: “Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace, comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word.
II Thessalonians 2:16-17