Just like many others at this time of year I've been contemplating my roles and goals for 2008. What hit me like a thunderbolt was not who am I and what do I need to do this year, but rather are the things I need to do more important that the people for whom I do them?
I am a disciple of Christ. I am a wife. I am a mom. I am a housekeeper. I am an educator. But as my husband gently reminded me, I grow and improve in every role only as I grow as a disciple; and I grow as a disciple as I am a servant in every area of my life. Herein lies my problem: I like to get things done and often the people are less important to me than the task. Much of what I do is not for the love of God and His people but for me to put a check mark on my list. The truth is I love me and I love others only as they love me, too.
God is seriously challenging me with this as I mother and educate my kids. I'm realizing that I've had a very conditional love for them. I love them most as they embody what I desire for them--quiet, happy, obedient, self-controlled children. When they are loud, morose, disobedient, out of control kids, I don't want to be with them. I've seen parenting as a systematical method of command and discipline outlined by this book or that guru. I have failed to see my children as made in the image of God and given to our particular family to be bathed in compassion and taught with kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. God forgive me for seeing them as clay to be molded into my image!
This year through the grace and mercy God's shown me I desire to step off the road to perfect children and truly love mine. I want to cherish their oddities and their interests and hold them when they've been desperately wicked. I want to talk with them, pray with them, laugh with them, and cry with them. I want to make messes with them instead of being irritated when they haven't picked up. I want to go out to play with them instead of staying in to do my house cleaning. I want to eat hot dogs three days in a row because we're engrossed in reading something I'd have never chosen to read.
Children are, after all, a heritage, a blessing, and a gift, not as they should be, but as they are.