I am not a Great Mother. Not even a Good Mother. In my own strength I am a Yeller and a Blamer and a Leave-Me-Alone-Before-I-Hurt-You-er.
But God. Good Father. Great Father. Faithful Father. Kind Father.
Wednesday night we don’t even make it to church. Fed, teeth brushed, shoes on, Bibles read and ready. A singular request: Get in the van without fighting. Clearly unattainable. Overachieving Children elevate mere disobedience to knock-down drag-out screaming, hair-pulling, choke-slamming, head-locking.
Frustrated Mama’s singular right move: facedown in the grass before God after all 4 are in bed before 7. Begging for mercy. For them. And for me. Running through my head: Summer? Not happening. Weary Mama pours it all out, surrenders to the Good Father, Faithful Father whose strength will have to be enough if this brood is to be mothered.
Thursday is less fighty. Fiesty Youngest even naps. Then. Out of the yellow bus spill 3 schoolagers. Let the games begin. Again, a singular request, just too simple for one Stubborn Son. Ah, the heart of the matter. Like Sister Eve and that singular tree: I want that one. Now.
Then, an apology. Faux sorrow that depends on and demands the return of the confiscated symptom, a toy now outside with Obedient-just-this-once Brother.
So minor infraction spirals, heats up hot enough for the real impurities to surface–pride, selfishness, greed. Ah yes, that looks familiar. Definitely my child. My own flesh wants to meet my own flesh and blood’s pride with more pride. Ugly with uglier. He wants a fight? It’s on. I’m a first-born. We don’t lose.
Instead, Spirit speaks: Why not just cooperate, child? Just listen. Just trust me. Don’t you know how much I love you? Do think I gave you life just to punish you? Do you understand that I care for you, feed you, clothe you, provide for you because I love you and delight in your well-being?
Yes, Father, I do see how you did that. Pretty clever, speaking to me through my own words to my own child.
Although tempted in thought by my own evil desires that rage within me, the actions, His-not-mine, are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and yes, even self-control. In spite of all that fruit, Offending Son remains angry. Defensive. Determined that his is the one heart too hard to ever soften. All hope lost. Give up now. Nothing will ever be good again ever. Did I mention I call this son Hyperbole?
With firm truth and gentle love in his pocket, but not yet in his heart, he retreats to his room. Weary Mama again bends the knee, thoughts already swirling of teenage and young adult years to survive, and what if he’s right? What if his heart never softens? What if his needs exceed my resources? (They do, now watch Him provide.)
Son returns, repentance brightening his face. A tiny, gigantic change of heart. True apology. True forgiveness. Thankful Mama joke-tests that toys will not be returned today. Forgiven Son laughs and hugs and passes with flying colors.
Obedient-just-this-once Brother bursts in from outside, offering confiscated toy and unsolicited words of uncommon brotherly kindness, then promptly bursts off the scene, wholly unaware of the weight and ordained timing of the gift he’s just offered.
The Grace-filled Son looks at the grace-gift in his hand and then at Tear-filled Mama. Arms and tears entwine. Thanks are offered to the Faithful Father who loves him even more, and even better, than Mama. Thanks for softened hearts and unexpected, unmerited tokens of favor. For opening the Skeptical Son’s eyes to, and reminding the Less-than-Good Mama of, the Great Father’s better-than-He-has-to-be love and mercy and flat-out thoughtfulness.