Lately the Lord has been uncovering some issues in my heart that need work as it relates to my children.
I’m struggling to delight in them.
I love them. I want to be their Mom. I would have it no other way.
But somehow the day in and day out of caring for them, seeking to meet their ever-increasing needs, and feeling so absolutely tired are robbing me of enjoying them.
I was sharing with my husband a few weeks ago how I felt like my children didn’t even like me. He reassured me that was not the case. But he asked me this question: “Do you think they know that you enjoy being with them?”
I wasn’t sure, but the Lord has used that question to help me do some soul-searching.
What are my actions communicating to my children?
How do I demonstrate my love for them?
In what ways do they need me to love them?
Is it possible that I’m neglecting to enjoy them?
In thinking through these issues I discovered that the delight was missing.
Oh, sure, I could blame it on being pregnant or tired or just plain overwhelmed. But the bottom line is that I am selfish.
Selfish with my time. Selfish with my comfort. Selfish with my to-do list.
And it’s out of a selfish heart that I choose my wants (not my needs, we have to discern the difference) before my children’s. For me, this is the root of my problem. Because I am so desirous of comfort or ease in my days, I focus on what is making me uncomfortable: the kids’ arguing and whining is giving me a bad day, or how if they would just get along then everything would go more smoothly, or if they would stop doing such stupid things (like color all over my dining room walls) life would be easier.
Focusing on the negative always robs us of joy.
Focusing on the negative circumstances in my day makes the entire day awful.
Focusing on the negative traits in my spouse causes me to become angry and forgetful of all the wonderful things about him.
Focusing on all the ways that my children cause me to be uncomfortable has caused me to neglect to rejoice in them, delight in them, and enjoy their presence in my life.
I’d love to say that I’ve been victorious over this. Isn’t that what everyone wants to hear? This was my struggle, but now God has given me victory!
But, friends, I’m still in the battle.
It’s wonderful to look back on a struggling time and see God’s hand, recounting the ways that He helped us (and we should do this!). Hindsight is 20/20, right? So, then the question is: What do we do when we’re in the midst of a struggle?
There are probably a lot of answers to this question, but I’ll tell you what I’ve been doing.
First, I had to confess to the Lord my struggle, and ask for forgiveness (1 John 1:9). Then, I’ve been begging Him daily to work in my heart. To give me joy in the task of mothering, to give me joy in each of my children, and to walk in holiness before Him as I interact with my children.
2. Confess our sins to one another (James 5:16).
First, I told my husband about my struggle. He already knew because he could see it on my face, but it was helpful to have a conversation with him about it. And, now, before he leaves for work he’ll say, “Remember to enjoy your children today.” While we were out of town last week, he had a package sent to us with a game so that I would purpose to play with them, doing fun things. He is holding me accountable and helping me in my struggle.
I also told a friend the other day while we were visiting as our girls played. We were discussing the challenges that come with summer, being with our children non-stop, and trying to come up with fun activities to pass the days. So, we decided to text each other throughout the week if we came up with fun ideas. And we’re setting a weekly meet-up at the beach to invite other Moms and have something to look forward to. Making ourselves vulnerable in admitting a struggle can be hard at first, but having that accountability and prayer support is so helpful.
3. Immerse ourselves in God’s Word.
This should be taking place regardless. However, I have found it specifically helpful during this struggle to use a Bible study that directly relates to my mothering.
This book, Walking with God in the Season of Motherhood, came out earlier this year, and I bought it right away (I love Melissa Kruger’s writing). It’s been sitting in my pile for a few months, and I kept putting off starting it because I was working my way through the Psalms. However, as I became more aware of my struggle, I decided to go ahead and do it over the summer. I just finished Week 3 today, and it has been so helpful! I can’t recommend it enough!
4. Find ways to actively fight against the struggle.
Put off, put on. It’s a biblical principle that we find in Colossians 3, where Paul speaks about putting off the old self with its practices, and putting on the new self–characteristics of those who are God’s chosen people, the greatest of which is love.
As I beg for God to change my heart, I’m asking for Him to work in me compassion instead of resentment, joy instead of anger; patience, kindness, etc.
But I’m also intentionally trying to do things that I know my kids enjoy. So, we went to Hershey’s Chocolate World while we were in Pennsylvania last week. I sit and play Legos with Mason and Jennavieve. The girls and I play games, make cookies, and read books. This weekend I’m going to come up with our summer list (finally!) of all kinds of things that we can do to enjoy the summer, and enjoy being with one another.
“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” – Zephaniah 3:17
I’m so thankful for God’s delight in me. And as I struggle through learning to delight in my own children, I keep thinking about the fact that God’s love for His people is joyous, loving, and full of exulting.
This is how I want to love my children: to rejoice over them and delight in them day in and day out.