This seems an odd time to have time to write a little, but goodness, I won't complain.
It's that kind of evening where the front door is open, screen included and the breeze is coming through. Windy day. Kind of balmy I suppose.
There are two boys playing in a hole in the front yard in what they call their "quarry." There they do what boys do almost best of all: get really amazingly dirty.
The girls are hammering flowers. Morgan has been the initiator - picking them around the yard and then they take them and press them flat on a concrete block and hammer them. I guess you could say it's kind of pretty. So far no fingers smashed.
So yeah, there is this really large hole in our front yard now that is an ugly mess and there are mushed flowers. And happy children.
The sound of the basketball makes me think older boys are competing. The baby now nursed to sleep reminds me that God was good to give us such an awesome surprise last year - squeezing in that fourth little girl.
Pause. The thought comes, "None of them are for me."
I hear their voices all about, the yelling and laughter - the cry, "Bubby hurt me on my knee, Mommy!" These souls all about, eternal.
"Not mine." I hear it again in my head. Or is that my heart?
Motherhood is often spoken of in one of two ways. Or at least it was to me.
Sometimes praised to the highest heaven, sometimes put down like it's not a match for college degreed careers. I chose motherhood. It wasn't forced upon me. I had options and lots of them. I use to think I chose it as my career, or rather "gave up" a career for motherhood.
This attitude was a bad one. If you do motherhood and think it as a career or the substitute of that career you could have had or did have, then you see your children as the substance of what it means to succeed as a mother.
The kids become the measure of success.
Somehow this doesn't go well in their hearts. Might even be emotionally abusive. Yes, I have listened to hearts. It hurts. This mind set controls and works hard to be successful parents. Problem is, God didn't intend for us to find a fulfilling career in our children. He intended for us to find fulfillment in HIM.
The truth is though we can only work on the outsides of our children.
We might want to reach in and grab their heart and change it, but we can't change them. . . any more than we can change our spouse or anyone else. The more we try to change someone, the more they will push us away because God didn't intend to let humans take over His job. . .
God is the changer of hearts.
My flesh believes it has that kind of power though. The truth doesn't sink in firm. My life is spent relearning who holds the power to change a heart. Not me, but God.
So we (I) work away - far more than any other career would demand - it's no 8-5, it's 24/7, this motherhood thing. We make our career the constant molding and making of the outsides of our children, all the while hoping somehow that might reach the inside.
We try all sorts of things to be successful as mothers: certain church, curriculums, type of schooling, music, programs, sports, standards, rules, regulations - not bad things.
But then those things don't change the hearts of our kids and we are frustrated with their performance because it's not making us look successful in our career as mothers. . . so we might try other things like manipulation, anger, harsh words, with-holding love if they don't act or do as we want them to do, with-holding acceptance, or affection, or affirmation unless they jump through the hoops we hold up for them.
Compliant children jump through them, strong personalities run around them - or pretend to jump through them as they live their secret lives elsewhere.
We might become successful at using a combo of the above (the good and the bad) to change the outside of our children - it might even work! We just might produce well-behaved kids who make us proud!
Literally proud. The kind of pride that blinds us to their hearts and our heart too.
Our "successful" mothering that made us so proud produced children living in fear of not gaining our approval, viewing God the same way. The gospel becomes screwed.
There is one of two outcomes with this "successful" mothering: the prodigal who runs from parents and God, and then the "older brother" type, who stays and does it all right and yet doesn't understand God or the gospel and counts his/her actions as righteousness.
So, am I successful in my "career" as a mother if I do not produce either the prodigal or the "older brother?"
See, that's just it. My success is not to be sought after through my children. They are not my success factor. They are not here for me.
It's about my relationship with God - whether I live my life out with Him as God, or I put my children in His place.
Am I looking for motherhood/ or my children to give me:
Affirmation, respect, confidence, good name, love, devotion, appreciation, happiness, and feelings of success?
After all, if I'm going to "give up" career to be a mother, don't I deserve to have my children give me these things in return?
Which kind of boils down to me, the mom, being the center of the universe.
Their universe, my universe - with me, my "career" of motherhood in the middle. My success depending on their outward. How they turn out after all the time, energy - my life! put into them. . . this turning out. . . it better be good, it better be as I desired because after all, motherhood is what I did instead of a career, right?
Dramatic I guess, all of that, but I know I can go there. How I mother them is revealing. Even my unsaid words. Just an attitude. How I respond to them day in and day out - over spilled milk or a child who accidently lifts my skirt in public causing an embarrassment, how I deal with the child who doesn't make me look successful in my "career." My little girl who screamed loudly for stickers in the grocery store the other day.
Because motherhood is not a career. And if I view it as a career, or view it as the thing that took away my career, or if I see it in anyway a success factor for ME - then no doubt about it, damage will be done.
Damage to hearts.
These guys aren't my career. They are not my success factor. They aren't here for me.
Instead they are His. He is my success factor. I am here for Him. I am here for them to just get an earthly glimpse of who He is.
They don't need to earn my love and acceptance. They don't need to jump through hoops for me. Their outward performance doesn't make me successful as a mother.
The only thing that makes me successful as a mother is if I loved them like Jesus has loved me.
He didn't ask me to jump through hoops to be affirmed and accepted. My outward performance didn't determine His love for me. His heart loved me while I was all dark and yuck. His patience is beyond understanding. BEYOND! His success as God wasn't based on how I performed, but totally on the performance of Jesus Christ.
His death. His dying. His forgiving. His living.
What an awesome Father He is!
We wonder, we ask, we search for a text, for words, for wisdom on how to be "successful" in our "career" as mothers. . . and all the while it is as simple as the gospel.
"For God so loved the world that HE GAVE."
"And yet while we were still in our transgressions, Christ died. . ."
"He came to seek and to save the lost. . ."
"There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ. . ."
"Cast all your burdens on Him for He cares. . ."
"Love is patient, kind, not proud. . ."
Verses keep coming to my mind to show me what motherhood means.
Motherhood cannot one single little bit be about me. It's not about a career. It all comes back to Him. Always.
Let the motherhood career concept go if you've ever struggled with that as I have along the way. When I've felt the pressure that I am not "successful" because I don't bring home a consistent pay check or have degrees that mean something important, I've found my weakness is to then view motherhood as my "career" and strive to make sure I am a success - not purposely, but often viewing the kids as people who need to pay me back with their behavior.
I can't find fulfillment there. I don't find peace there either, rather, misery and spiritual dryness.
We can work our whole life and the pay back won't ever be enough for all we put in as long as we view our children as the success factor. They need complete freedom to live for God, not for us.
One day the kiddos will be gone. Some might look alright on the outside and it might very well be from our doing. But all that goodie-two-shoes doesn't mean a changed heart. Might very well just be a mask of a bad heart. Some might not look well on the outside at all. Some might have been genuinely saved. That would be the work of God.
I want to be a good mom. I don't suppose anyone sets out to be a bad mom.
Sometimes those who set out to be a good mom are bad moms though, and yet they can't see it because after all, they worked so hard, gave up so much to shape the outside of their children. Their children were their life. . . instead of Jesus.
I want Jesus to be my life. Not so my kids will turn out. Yes, I want them to see Jesus through me and yes, I pray God will use me to draw them closer to Himself. Ultimately though, I want Jesus as my life because without Him I have no real life at all.
I know nothing else will satisfy.
No successful career and not mothering either.