I so often have a hard time enjoying my children. "Often" as in, pretty much daily.
I love my children, and literally for as long as I can remember I have looked forward to being a mama. I practiced on my little brother from the time I was five. Then I was everybody's favorite and most reliable babysitter (if I do say so myself...). Then I had "favorite little kids" that I would invest myself in as a young adult. I've always loved children.
So it is with a bewildered heart that I find myself, over and over again, feeling put out and put upon, annoyed, overwhelmed, distracted, frustrated, like my plans are being held up because of my children. I have my own agenda, and over and over again, because of them, I feel foiled again!
These are real feelings.
Regularly, I see Facebook posts from friends who seem to just adore everything about being mamas, getting Warm Fuzzies all the time as they look at and interact with their children. These girls all just seem to embody "mother" in all the best ways. To lay their lives down for the sakes of their children is one of their greatest joys.
And I'm over here like, "What is this? Why don't my kids get it that they're supposed to be perfect already? I want to love being their mama, but they're messing it up for me!"
Remember, I love my children. But these are ugly, real feelings.
Talk about my own worst enemy.
I am so, so selfish. And I wrestle with my own selfishness all the time, because when I go ahead and get around to acknowledging it's there and a Big Problem, I still just want things my way. I'm having an argument in my head between the proverbial angel and demon, all the while knowing the right thing to do, and just stubbornly sticking with the demon.
I remember almost eight years ago, a pastor praying prophetically over Andy and me, assuring us both that these (yet unborn) kids of ours would follow the Lord all the days of their lives--but that it would NOT be easy--we could not just sit back and say "we got a word from the Lord (about this)"--it would be HARD WORK training our children in the paths of righteousness.
It IS hard work. But I have always thought of it as hard physical work, directed toward shaping my children.
It didn't occur to me that the hardest work might be primarily spiritual, and primarily within myself.
Sanctification is Hard Work. But if I don't deal with myself more than anybody else, I'm not only a hypocrite who doesn't actually grasp unconditional love and grace--but my kids know it. They are perceptive little buggers.
"Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you." James 4:8b-10
"Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me, and know my thoughts! See if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!" Psalm 139:23-24
"I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh." Ezekiel 36:25-26
Oh, and there's a happy paradox: it is through all the (genuine, heart-wrenching) wretchedness that Undivided Joy is born.
I am (very, very slowly) learning. Jesus, bring me from head knowledge to a heart of flesh.