Saturday, May 4, 2013

To Love Them Well

It's hard to know how to love sometimes.
I have wondered lately about the Lord's thoughts on when he made woman... wondered what He might have been thinking when He gave some a whole quiver full of treasures... wondered how one woman's mind was meant to keep up on five folks all day everyday for years upon years. 

I don't just want to love them, I want to love them well.

Love is patient, love is kind. 

I sat on the porch with the Cowboy last night. He asked about my day and I was silent, tears fell, and all I could muster up to say was,
"I have no idea how to love them well."

It was quiet. 
More tears fell.
Then that tender Cowboy rested his hand on my arm.
And we sat there, just the two of us, quiet.
Cuz what can you say to a woman who's learning to love? 
The Cowboy rests his hand on my arm and without a word he walks alongside. 
There's no formula for love. 
There's no "do this, and that will happen."

At dinner he sits next to me like he does every night and every few minutes he slides his hand down my back, looks my way, smiles, reassures my messy self. 

Is that it? Is that what my little ones need? Is that what love is? A reassurance when when all feels so overwhelmingly messy. 

I had started the day with my eyes skimming these words...

{I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,  may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.  Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. Ephesians 3 & 4} 

How does a Mama of many small children do this everyday? I mean seriously? I long for this. I cry out to Him for this... to be completely humble and gentle; patient... making every effort to make our home a place of peace. But then someone walks down stairs and says something that rubs me the wrong way and it seems all down hill from there. 

Under this roof, four little people are growing up. One chomps his food like a beaver at every meal and I have no idea how to help him eat like a human being. Another one is struggling to accept correction with joy.  Two like to talk in a baby voice which irks me for some unknown reason. All four of them like to be in control. Still another says "what" to everything I say. One thinks she knows better than her Mama, and another simply likes to chat... all-day-long. 
It's little corks and big heart issues that challenge my pride... all-day-long. 

Love does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 

I can hear the Spirit whisper to me throughout the day saying, "let this one go," but my pride looks my Savior right in the face and flat out says, "No, I want my way. I want my children to be a certain way. I want them to behave properly and I want others to think I'm a good Mama."

Love is not proud. I want them to think about others above themselves. But it is a daily battle for me to think about them and their hearts, above myself and my desire for them to be perfect children.

I took all four treasures to my last doctor's appointment . They were all in the room with me when the doctor came in. She hasn't seen them all since Jed was born and she was so sweet to take some time to catch up with them.  Our treasures  are far from shy and the moment the doctor walks in the room the Charmer declares, "I left my redneck hat at home, but at least I have my cowboy boots." Then the doc asks the kids if they're being helpful to their Mama. Hal pipes in and puts it right out there, "ya, but Mama shouts sometimes." My Siah jumps into the conversation and tells the doctor, "Ya, but I pray for her when she does that and it seems to be helping." The Spunky girl doesn't want to be left out so she makes sure the doctor knows that she prayed for me once too, well, at least she thinks she did, she couldn't quite remember. :) 

 I blush, and the doctor looks at me and smiles, and I smile back, "It's true," I tell her. "That's our family.The littlest one doesn't have his redneck hat because this Mama was in such a rush to get out the door that she refused to help him look for his beloved hat. I do shout, and the oldest one does pray for me, often. In fact this morning he quoted James 1:20 to me as I was getting a bit flustered with them all, "Man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires."  She chuckled, encouraged  me that I'm not alone. 

I don't know what this little chat with the doctor says about our family. 

I'm not sure how it portrays the way we love around here. 

But it's us. 

We try, but love rarely ever looks the way I have always thought it should. 

{Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3}

I have not already learnt this. 
But what better place than in family to practice such love... 

To be clothed in compassion when my children's hearts have been hurt?   

Clothed in kindness when my children are going through growing pains and learning such lessons in life as accepting correction with joy? {After all, it's His kindness that leads us to repentance, yes? Not a Mama flying off the handle Romans 2:9} 

Clothed in humility, gentleness and patience.  I love the New King James word for patience... 
long-sufferingI love this definition too... "Patience is waiting until later for what I want now. It 
is a good-natured tolerance of delay, or endurance under difficult circumstances ." I want my children to be walking gracefully with the Lord, now. This growing up into their Jesus takes time. In fact it will take a 
They are going to fail along the way. And sometimes their failures will inevitably damage my Mama pride. But I must be willing to walk alongside, clothed in compassion, kindness,  humility, gentleness, and patience, always ready to extend to them the same kind of forgiveness that Christ himself has extended to me... The kind of forgiveness that caused Him to die on the cross for me while I was yet a sinner. 

He doesn't love me only when I am good. 
He loves me simply because He is good.

We love because He first loved us. 

And so, on the days when I feel lost in knowing how to love on these amazing little hearts, I  can rest in this, 
{for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. Philippians 2}

It is God who works... It's not me mustering something up within myself. 

{Love is patient, 
love is kind. 
It does not envy,
 it does not boast, 
it is not proud.  
It does not dishonor others, 
it is not self-seeking, 
it is not easily angered, 
it keeps no record of wrongs. 
 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 
 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.}

You Lord, at work in me.
Teach me to love like You love.
Teach me to love them well.