These are the peanut butter and jam-filled days, when young children fill your home and occupy your time. There are sticky fingers and sticky floors and sticky jam in your hair. But there are also sandwiches that taste like warm summer berries and sunshine, and you can spread out your blanket and stay awhile, if you want.
It’s all a matter of perspective.
Either you can get bogged down in the sticky mess of smeared jam or you can taste the sweetness of the berries. It’s just that simple. Perspective is the way you view your circumstances, and perspective has a lot to do with whether you enjoy your children—or not.
Some days, when my eyes are on my to-do list and my mind is filled with thoughts of how much happier I’d be if my circumstances changed, the inconveniences of motherhood get to me. I think about my idealized, glossy-magazine view of motherhood (which has never materialized), and I wonder if I have been cheated, somehow. Surely, it has to be better than this.
On those selfish, bitter days, I do not enjoy my children. It’s hard to enjoy them when secretly, in the depths of my heart, I view the circumstances of motherhood as an obstacle to More Important Stuff. The toddler’s tantrums keep me from getting More Important Stuff done. The Princess who unpacks her entire dresser looking for the tutu that was in the wash destroys the More Important Stuff I’ve already done. The twins’ fighting over a toy prevents me from carrying on a phone conversation with the More Important Person and the endlessly misplaced shoes keep me from getting to More Important Places on time.
From this perspective, it seems the whole of motherhood is an obstacle to my happiness: one big, sticky, jam-filled obstacle.
But other days, I remember that my goal in life is not to be happy. Or organized. Or on time. It is to be holy. To that end, God has orchestrated every circumstance of every day for my own good, to draw me nearer to Himself and to change me into His likeness. Every circumstance has my refinement in mind, even motherhood. Especially motherhood.
Because it is in motherhood that I have the opportunity not only to be like Christ, but to demonstrate Christ to my children. Day after day, under this roof with these children, I have the opportunity to be Jesus passing out the leftovers, Jesus holding babies and breaking up arguments, Jesus washing stinky feet, Jesus who is never too busy to be touched, never too busy to be needed. I even have the opportunity to be Jesus, filled with power and overcoming this world of spilled milk and spaghetti stains, if I let him.
From this perspective, there are no obstacles. There is nothing mundane, nothing insignificant, nothing lost. There is nothing beneath me than was farther beneath Christ. If I stoop at all, it is to stoop to be where He is, down in the dirt struggling with the dailyness of the cross. It changes how I look at my circumstances. It changes me.
When I understand that I can show Christ more by wiping sticky jam off sticky faces than I ever could by living a glossy mothering magazine life, I find contentment. I find joy, and I am able to enjoy my children. They are not inconveniences or obstacles to my happiness. They are a daily opportunity for me to clothe the Word of God in flesh—my flesh. They are a daily opportunity for me to rise above my circumstances and live out in real actions—my actions—what love really is.
It’s all a matter of perspective.
For further thought
1) How does the humility of Christ transform your view of your circumstances? Read Philippians 2:1-16.
2) Can God be more glorified in the humble acts of motherhood than in the perfectionism we seek? Consider 2 Corinthians 4:5-18 as it applies to the ministry of motherhood. How would your home change if you considered every circumstance of every day as an opportunity to clothe the truth of God in your flesh?
3) As you go about your day today, may you be strengthened by this prayer of the apostle Paul, which is also my prayer for you: “[May] you be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.” –Colossians 1:9b-12
Please join us tomorrow for Day 3: Priorities.