God, if I could have just one prayer answered concerning my mothering, it would be this: please, please help me...change me...enable me to see and love my children through your eyes...please! I'm desperately asking this of you. I cannot love them on my own.I uttered this prayer not long ago as I pondered attitudes and behaviors that I have encountered in my children that have perplexed me and left me feeling desperate. Desperation. Not the greatest starting point of a prayer of faith. Or is it? I can think of several biblical stories wherein the main character saw a prayer answered dramatically and speedily. More times than not that character had finally come to a point of desperation.
As I prayed and wept, I had one child in mind specifically. To say I struggled with this one was putting it mildly. Do I even like her? I wonder if I should have ever become a mama? I wish I had never become a mama. I am so discouraged. Why does everything turn into a battle? I have no clue how to deal with her any longer. There you have it: the ugly, and yes...incredibly shameful place I was emotionally. Those were statements I had thought or had spoken aloud to myself. I felt unbelievably desperate. Now, while I understand that a more seasoned mama may be thinking If you think you have it bad now, you haven't even approached the teen years...I am where I am and where I am is where I am. Maybe mama, you can relate to how I felt, or maybe not. Nonetheless, I think we all have experienced desperation before. And I have decided it's a good launching pad for God to take over.
I had no idea that the same day I uttered this simple prayer to God, He would answer it in an unexpected way. He answered it by giving me an opportunity. And not even with the same child.
The school bus roared away as my oldest son meandered down the driveway. After dropping his blue backpack on the bench he slowly unwrapped his granola bar. I could tell something wasn't right. He kept turning a paper over in his hands and reluctantly handed it to me, embarrassment shone in his deep brown eyes. Somehow I got 10 demerits and I didn't even do anything! I initially thought, What now? The truth took a little longer to unravel. He was partially guilty and partially innocent. Regardless, some serious life lessons were going to result. The most unfortunate of these was losing the privilege to attend the final fifth grade field trip...one I wished I could accompany him on because it sounded profoundly interesting! I felt disappointed for him. Honestly, I'm not certain that the punishment fit the crime in this case, but a consequence is a consequence and I am not going to bat for him on every issue. He would have to suffer the consequence and learn from it.
We talked, and I knew his dad would talk with him later. He knew his wrong. I peered out the kitchen window, watching him bounce the basketball in the driveway, and I hurt for him. Oh, how I wished I could have been with him to remind him of good choices...and self-control...and consequences. But he is on his own during the school day, facing tests of character regularly. I couldn't change that. Nor could I take away the sting of the consequence he would face. But I could do something. I could love him the way God loves me when I mess up royally--which can be
Before dinner, he came into the kitchen to collect the basket for our chickens' eggs, and he quietly whispered I'm sorry mom. What are you sorry for?, I asked him. I'm sorry that I got in trouble and for what I did. That he would apologize to me--not one directly offended or wronged--showed me that he was remorseful and had already learned an incredible lesson. I wrapped him in a bear hug. I told him that I loved him no matter what! He asked me if I would love him still even if he got 100 demerits. I answered, without any hesitation, Yes. I would love you even if you got 100 demerits. I don't want you to. I want you to make good choices so that your life is happy and fulfilled, because rules are in place for your good in the long run. But I will always love you no matter what.
As he walked a little lighter to the chicken coop, I realized that God had unexpectedly answered my earlier prayer. Does God ever move in my life as I expect him to? He gave me a surprising opportunity to show love and grace to my child, as he continually showers me with love and grace. I make poor choices. I use my tongue as a sword. I lash out when I feel frustrated. I blame others when I need to admit my wrong. I disappoint myself and God more times than I care to admit. And each time I do, He reminds me that I am loved and there is grace. There is grace to try again. There is grace to start anew. There is grace to seek forgiveness. There is grace to wipe away the stains of my mistakes. He doesn't lecture or berate me. He loves me and he embraces me with tender mercy and grace. I was able to do that for my son, without any hesitation. I was able to see him and love him through the eyes of God.
My own mama's eyes are often critical and fault-finding. God is changing me. He is transforming the way that I love my children. I wish it came more naturally to me, to love them as God loves me. But admittedly, I struggle. There are circumstances and behaviors that I want to control, and when I can't I experience frustration and disappointment. I am a perfectly imperfect mama. Thankfully, God gives his grace to me in this journey too. That evening, after the interaction with my son, I felt more at peace with the child I had in mind when I prayed my prayer of desperation. I loved her more patiently. I answered her more gently. I squeezed her longer and took more time to tuck her in. Surely I am learning that a place of desperation is nothing more than an opportunity in disguise.
Linking up with Holley Gerth and Jennifer Dukes Lee today