This is the third post in the three-part series, “The Whole Story”. The first post can be read here.
What’s the magic fix? What changed? Well, I can tell you it wasn’t the babies. I mean, sure, they have changed. They have slowly but surely continued to make progress, but they still have issues. The moral of the story, however, is that I. Still. Have. Issues.
The Lord started slowly revealing this to me. He started showing me that H&H are just toddlers. They don’t know Jesus yet. They don’t have the Holy Spirit to guide their hearts, and in turn guide their actions. They have been through a bunch of crap in their short little lives, and they are just doing their best to survive.
I, on the other hand, do know Jesus. In fact, I call myself a Christ follower. I have the living and active Word of God in the Bible to teach, rebuke, correct and train me in righteousness. (2 Timothy 3:16) I even have the Holy Spirit in me who convicts and directs me, when I choose to listen and submit to Him. See, God was showing me that my problems with H&H were really my problems. It was my sin that made me loathe them. The problem wasn’t what my flesh would whisper to me, that they were just unlovable. The problem was that I was just unloving.
You can probably guess what the Lord revealed to me next. Since the problems were on my part, I was going to have to work on my own heart, rather than just waiting and hoping their behavior would change. It was so easy to think my anger was their fault. It’s funny, because that’s what I have always been taught about relationships. That you can’t change the other person. All you can do is be responsible for yourself and work on your own issues. The Bible even teaches this. Just read Jesus’ words in Mathew 7:5: “You hypocrite! First take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Ouch!
Somehow, it took me a long time to realize this. It’s not like it was some new revelation from God. It’s been there in the Bible all along. I just hadn’t connected the dots to apply it to a parent and child relationship. With my biological children, I know I have to evaluate situations to determine if I’m just cranky or if they really are in sin. But honestly with them, I tend to take on more of the blame than I should and attribute the problem to being on my part. But things are different with H&H. I pray that that won’t always be the case, but for now, it is. Because of that, I have to purposely remind myself to check my heart and find my fault in the situation. Then I must work to respond in a selfless, God honoring way. THIS IS VERY HARD, and many times I STINK AT IT.
I found my difficulty with this strange because with my biological children, I gladly lay down my life. I have joyfully sacrificed dreams, ambitions, a career, rest, and ‘me time’, not to mention my girlish figure. 🙂 And you know what? It has been natural and pretty easy. (Okay, nursing was not easy, but I’m talking big picture here.) I know for most moms, it’s the same way. But I have realized that through it all, part of me felt a little bit like I had arrived. Here I am daily loving my children sacrificially, even when they trash part of a newly cleaned house (Cooper), tell me quite sassily with one hand on a hip and head cocked that I’m ‘not following the rules’ (Liv), scream that I am the meanest mom ever (Maya) or pour Nestlé’s Quick ALL OVER THE HOUSE (Coop again). I mean, seriously, I have mastered loving unconditionally! Just go ahead and give me my halo now. 🙂
Well guess what I discovered? Loving your birth children unconditionally, isn’t really unconditional. There is still a condition that exists – they came from your womb. They were made from part of you and part of your spouse. Because of that, you have an automatic attachment to them, and they to you. Guess what else I discovered? When it comes to true, love absent of any conditions, I totally stink! To say I need to grow leaps and bounds in this area is a gross understatement. Thankfully, the Lord tells us that His power is made perfect in our weakness, and I know as long as I learn to swallow my anger and rely on Him, He will come through and enable me to do the right thing. (2 Cor. 12)
Friends, I wish I could end this post with something like, “Since God faithfully revealed to me my sin, I fixed it and now am full of love, compassion and patience for our two youngest children. I totally understand God’s plan for our family and daily thank Him with a heart overflowing with happiness for blessing us with them.”
But, since I like to keep my blog honest and authentic, I’ll give you the real ending.
I am truly grateful that the Lord has faithfully revealed my sin to me, as ugly as it is. I still struggle a great deal with H&H. At least now, I am able to do a heart check and acknowledge that while their behavior may be difficult, my emotional response is due to my own sinful heart. In the Lord’s power, I continue to work to submit to the Holy Spirit and act as I know the Lord desires me to, and not how I desire. At times I am still baffled by the Lord’s plan of placing H&H in our family with me as their mother. I feel certain that they would be much better off with a mother who is not so fallen and broken. But then I just fall back on His word that says in Isaiah 55:8-9, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
I will leave you with the words of Paul in Philippians 2:12-16. May we all live obediently, holding firmly to the word of life.
“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed – not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence – continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.”