It happened again. I laid down last night aching over the way I handled several situations with the kids. The words of blame I chose. The ridiculous outburst of anger. The active attempt to show frustration with their actions (or lack of actions), often for nothing more than being who they are - 3 and 4 years old.
The way I hurry them to get their shoes and jackets on so I can get to where I want to go.
The way I hurry them to accomplish something so I can get on with the other task on my list I was trying to get done.
The way I hurry them to bed so I can finally work on the things I want to do.
I've been really struggling lately with the desperate desire for consistent, productive alone time. That in itself is certainly not wrong or unwarranted. I'm pretty sure every weary mother is giving me a vigorous agreeable nod right about now. But it's how I handle it when I don't get what I want. Do I still show them love?
Because typically, when I don't get a daily dose of alone time, I can be a pretty dramatic little baby about it. And then, I find myself drifting to my outlets. I am not present with my kids because I'm sitting at my computer (to escape the petty fighting). Or looking at my phone (to connect with other adults). Or sneaking upstairs just so I can sit on the floor of my bedroom closet with the door closed (and just think for a second).
But when I choose these outlets over actively loving my kids and being obedient to the job God has called me to, I am sending a very damaging mixed message. My words say "I love you", but my actions say "You're frustrating me and I would rather be alone."
Insert dagger to the heart.
What I'm learning is that every day, I am actually called to true sacrificial love. Love that has to give something up. The greek word is Agape love.
The definition of Agape love is, "Unconditional love that is always giving and impossible to take or be a taker. It devotes total commitment to seek your highest best no matter how anyone may respond. This form of love is totally selfless and does not change whether the love given is returned or not."
I need to Love and serve my family like Christ loves and serves me. Even when it's hard. Even when I don't want to. Even when I don't get what I want first. But the real challenge is to not do it out of obligation, but to truly do it out of the sacrificial love of Christ inside me. If I have it inside me, then it will overflow naturally to my family.
One of my favorite passages of the entire bible is from 1 Corinthians. This was spoken at our wedding and has breathed truth into me ever since:
If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.
If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.
If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere.
So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (The Message)
You guys, I cry over these verses! They are a lifeline for me.
If I walk around proclaiming beautiful sentiments and telling eloquent stories but I don't show love to my own family, I am nothing but a creaking gate and a noisy gong in this world.
I don't want to be a creaking gate! I want to be like music to my family's ears. I want to be a song they want to sing. I want to be the love of Christ modeled for them.
Lord help me.