I Do Care

Something about motherhood makes me feel exposed in ways I never have before – like that first sunburn of the summer. All the sudden, discomfort can come upon me and make me question both my course and my capability. I let outside voices get in my head. The book, the friend, the stranger, the blog, the talk show, the magazine – they all have something to say about my parenting and my children. An odd look from a passerby can suddenly make me think, what am I doing wrong? I wonder if other moms deal with this or if it’s just my oversensitive, people-pleasing nature at its worst. I know that many moms feel judged by their kid’s behavior (which I generally disagree with) and I am no exception to that feeling. In fact, I’m quite familiar with it. I know I’m a spectacle at the grocery store when I have 2 boys sword fighting with celery sticks in the cart, a baby strapped to my chest, a mile-long list of food to grab while trying to read ingredient labels. You wouldn’t believe how many times I hear, “You’ve got your hands full.” from the random Joe or Jane. I’m not even sure what that is supposed to mean but it gets to me. When I talk to my husband about it, he innocently tells me not to care. So I try really hard. I give myself a pep talk, “Next time I hear how my hands are full, I won’t care. Repeat: next time I hear… I won’t care.” It’s amazing because my hubby sincerely doesn’t care. It must be a guy thing. It just does not get under his skin but no matter how I try to brainwash myself, the fact is, I still care.

So, God in His kindness, has started to teach me a new way. Truthfully, when I try not to care about the judgements of others, I begin to stop caring about that person. For me, “not caring” is a defense mechanism which distances me from the offender. I’m not comfortable with distance. I don’t like to see burned bridges, even if it’s a total stranger. Instead of “not caring”, I need confidence…confidence in God and His wisdom in giving me my exact 3 children in this exact city at this exact time. I need confidence in God’s constant presence with me, and His ability to direct me and redirect me at every question mark in my day. I need confidence in the decisions I have prayerfully made in how to raise our 3 treasures. This may sound overly simple and perhaps it is. Sometimes the simple is the most profound.

Over these short 5 years of parenting, He has etched this question in my head, “How would I parent if the Bible was my one and only resource?” I love how that question has clarified my thinking in countless situations. It’s like putting in earplugs – all the outside voices go away and I hear only His. Thankfully, His voice is gentle, confident, wise, tender, and strong. To the random “judgers”, it feels better to think, “I really do care about you and your thoughts but I’m confident in my choices because of the God who is guiding me.” He knows my weaknesses, knows my children, knows the desires of my heart, and knows exactly how to refine my heart. What a perfect parent He is!

Watch out grocery store, the spectacle is back but with a caring and confident mama this time!

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Be Thou My Vision

Yesterday was kind of a strange day.  It was C’s 3 year birthday, which was lots of fun.  We stayed up the night before decorating the house with D, who got really into it.  In the morning, we made our birthday boy his favorite wheat chocolate chip pancakes and opened presents.  Daddy came home for lunch and we all got to spend time together.  We went to the dollar store and C got to spend all his quarters at the gumball machine. We colored pictures together in the afternoon.  Then we headed to our favorite donut shop, Gibson’s, for a birthday treat.  (Unfortunately, C fell asleep on the way there and could not be roused at all!  So we grabbed his Texas-size birthday donut and headed back home. Ha!)  All of that was great fun.  I love birthdays and I especially love to celebrate the kiddos that God has loaned to me.  The strange part of the day was how older brother D just could not handle the fact that yesterday was designed around another person, not himself.  His attitude grew increasingly worse throughout the day, and honestly so did mine.  My sweet mother assures me that this his behavior is normal 4-year-old behavior, that he will eventually learn otherwise and I sure hope she’s right! But yesterday, it felt anything but normal.

When my husband got home yesterday, he found the boys playing, the baby laying on our bed, and me in our closet nose to the carpet, begging God for wisdom and perspective.  The funny thing is that God had really answered that prayer even before I prayed it.  This weekend in church, we sang a favorite hymn, “Be Thou My Vision” by Byrne.  I really love that hymn and have several different recollections of how God has worked in my heart through the lyrics.  This time I sang it, for the hundredth time, and a new thought came to my mind.  It does not say, “Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my eyes.”  It says, “Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart.”  The vision this hymn is talking about has nothing to do with actually being able to see.  I don’t even think it’s talking about circumstantial clarity.  I think it’s talking about being able to see with spiritual eyes, and spiritual eyes alone.  So I sang the entire hymn with my eyes intentionally shut tight and God’s light flooded my soul.  It was invigorating to think of being blind to things seen, losing the ability to judge a situation on what my eyes observe and learning to live by how God steers my soul.

How I need that perspective, His perspective, in parenting (and all over my life)!  God sees the souls of my kids and the finished story of their lives.  I can see neither.  He knows what is going on in their little heads and hearts.  I can only guess.  In fact, my physical vision may often mislead me as I make conclusions about them based on what I see.  Spiritual vision, granted by God and through constant communication with Him is my only hope in being able to truly parent.  How many things in life are designed to bring us back to Him!  “Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my Light.”

 

Now you try it… Close those eyes and sing,

“Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart, naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.  Thou my best thought by day or by night, waking or sleeping, Thy presence my Light.

Be Thou my wisdom, and Thou my true word.  I ever with Thee and Thou with me Lord.  Thou my great Father, I thy True son.  Thou in me dwelling and I with Thee one.

Riches I heed not, or man’s empty praise, Thou mine inheritance, now and always.   Thou and Thou only, first in my heart.  High King of heaven, my treasure Thou art.

High King of heaven, my victory won! May I reach heaven’s joys, O bright heaven’s Sun!  Heart of my own heart, whatever befall, still be my vision, O Ruler of all.”