This week I had the opportunity to attend a teacher practicum. It was the shot in the arm I needed to propel myself into planning our school year. I usually attend such events in hopes of gleaning pounds of wisdom that will assist me in schooling and mothering my kids while simultaneously maintaining my home at just below chaos status and presenting my hard working husband with a carefree, sexy wife when he walks in the door. Too much to ask of a speaker? Maybe.
Yet, with my kids, diapers, lunches, and unrealistic expectations in tow, we exploded through the church doors.
I have aspirations of being the peaceful, collected family who floats seamlessly into the midst of a gathering raining joy and thankfulness down on the inhabitants within. Alas, we are the opposite: at least one child crying, while another clings to my leg begging me to never leave, diapers and crackers tumbling out of the monstrosity of a bag I carry as I bend down to peel child #2 off my leg. Empathic eyes meet mine as I offer up puny excuses indicating this is not our modus operandi. My kids really are well behaved. They love learning new information from strangers and they thrive when thrown into unfamiliar situations by their mother after a day’s notice.
Oh, right….that’s me-I love new information and new people. Apparently, my progeny are not mini me’s.
When I close the doors on the cacophony of 40+ kids recently pried from their mother’s arms, I exhale a prayer, “Father, please let me hear just one session before one of my kids needs me.” Peace washes over me as I step into the sanctuary. Classical music playing over moms sitting at round tables where sugary delights taunt them. A table in the back displaying a myriad of caffeinated options. I have died and gone to Heaven. I rush to grab a cup of coffee just as the opening song begins. “Oceans” by Hillsong United. Another wave of peace washes over me. NOW, I’m ready. Speaker, lay it on me!
I do not have to wait long. Whenever I attend such events I usually walk away with one nugget that shifts my paradigm a little closer to Jesus. As the speaker flows across the stage in all her grace and beauty, she begins to share examples of trials, challenges and joys of homeschooling her children. Then comes the nugget that sucker punches me. She asks us if are we measuring or nurturing our children?
MEASURING VERSUS NURTURING.
It is blindingly obvious that I measure my children relentlessly. Is their school work up to par? Have their chores been done sufficiently? Behavior-are their mannerisms and emotions in line with my expectations at all times? This question runs over me, slaughtering my insides like the raccoon family recently splattered on our road.
Instantly, her question gave credence to the answer to an inquiry I posed to my eldest last month. I was prayerfully working through a questionnaire from the book Let My Children Go by Rebecca Greenwood with my kids. It consisted of a series of statements to which a child responds yes or no. I used it in hopes of better understanding my daughter’s inner world.
The statement was: I CAN NEVER DO ANYTHING RIGHT.
“Yes,” was her immediate reply.
“Really?? You really feel that way?”
Hesitatingly, she looked up at me, “Yes.”
As I sit at my table surrounded by others who are intently listening to the wisdom pouring forth from the stage, I ask myself-WHY? Why do I measure my kids? Why do I measure my husband? My friends? Myself? As these thoughts storm through my brain, one statement floats in and calms the torrent:
“Jesus, does not measure me. He nourishes me. He cherishes me.”
I thought of Ephesians 5:25-30 where Paul explains the high calling of a husband to love his wife as Christ loves us-His church. In these verses, he says that Jesus presents me with no spot or wrinkle (a miracle on many levels), holy and blameless to my Father God. These words breathe that Christ nourishes and cherishes me-He does not measure me. For if He did, I would NEVER measure up.
Nourishing vs. measuring. Grace vs. law. I love you unconditionally vs. I love you if you act right.
If my kids are to meet Jesus through my modeling, how could they possibly meet Him when I am filled with Law and not Grace?
The Greek definition of NOURISH is TO REAR, FEED, NURTURE, TO BRING TO MATURITY.
REAR has in its definition TO RAISE UPRIGHT; TO BRING TO MATURITY OR SELF-SUFFICIENCY USUALLY THROUGH NURTURING CARE.
This speaks to me of a filling, all encompassing love for my children that is spoken over them in words, looks, and actions regardless of their words, looks, and actions. It reminds me to let my speech (and my looks) always be seasoned with GRACE toward my children (Colossians 4:6). (Do you see a pattern in my looking?) Nurturing my babies implores me to be gentle with them, tenderly caring for and teaching them (1 Thessalonians 2:7). Because if I don’t, who will?
Father God, parenting seems to be the deepest of waters at times. What a heavy calling to raise humans from complete dependence on me as their mom to complete dependence on You as their All in All. I beg You, please walk with me and all my friends and family who have a flock at home to tend to. I pray when we speak only blessing, LIFE, truth, and encouragement would escape our mouths. Thanks that we are not alone.
If you have nine minutes to spare, set down your life and allow this song “Oceans” to wash over you with hands and hearts raised to our nurturing Father God who promises us He will show us the way.
To the elegant, insightful Speaker-thanks for praying for 112 days and allowing God to speak truth through you that has effectively cut me to my core.