Last year, on the same day we dropped off our oldest at his new high school for freshman orientation, we drove to the elementary school to drop off our youngest for kindergarten. Talk about parental whiplash! I laughed because I knew if I started crying, I’d scare the sweet children excitedly walking into school with new backpacks and fresh optimism. No one needed to see a mom with yesterday’s makeup in her husband’s sweatpants crying at the door, peppering their child’s face with coffee breath kisses.
That memory has had me thinking a lot about children and mothering and how seasons change, needs change, and, honestly, I change. (I joke with my husband that he has to get to know a new wife every five to ten years.) It’s strange because when you have little ones, you can’t seem to see the end, and everything feels immensely physically exhausting. Your body is literally poured out for the sake of nurturing another. They have boundless energy. And you accidentally fall asleep on the couch with nursing pads stuck to your shirt. If your house is anything like mine, you then wake up to beautiful marker art on the walls and at least two rolls of toilet paper strewn across the floor. How do littles know exactly where to find a rogue permanent marker, and I can’t even find a matching sock?
Then, as if surprising, they get older, like biology says, and take more and more steps to become their own person. They find trouble in different ways, they need more emotional support, and they rudely start demanding you treat them like they’re not five anymore? FINE! Time becomes a thief, and you just don’t want it to end.
I now see I have the immense gift of having children so wide spread in age that it is demanding I understand time is really fleeting. God tells us to keep this at the forefront of our thoughts:
Show me, Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is.
Psalm 39:4 (NIV)
Parenting, like anything in life, is never just about that thing. Everything we participate in, everything we hold dear, everything that makes up our days is actually speaking to something larger: eternity. Ann Voskamp once said, “Think on eternity and work backwards from that.” I love that quote so much my sister made me a giant poster that hangs in my kitchen. I want to see it when I’m pouring cereal for my kids. I want to see it when I’m picking up the kitchen (again!). I want to see it when I’m arguing with my spouse. And I want to see it when I host my neighbors for dinner. I want to see that sign everywhere I go because it proclaims God’s truth to me: “This world is going away. But I have something better for you.”
When I think on eternity, I can parent another day. I can believe that children really are a gift and a blessing. When you stop believing God gives you good gifts in your children, you stop nurturing them. You get too tired to care what they’re doing on their tablet and whom they’re spending time with. You turn inward and find despair; it’s all just too heavy and burdensome. I want to encourage you that whether you’re parenting, aunt-ing, wife-ing, neighboring, PTO-ing, or working, the reason you can whole-heartedly love in these areas is because eternity is coming. Jesus is on the way, and He will take all of our burdens once and for all and wrap them in the greatest redemptive hug we’ve ever experienced.
I once had a mantra when I was potty training my special needs kiddo who was then nine years old. It was a difficult and frustrating task, and nothing seemed to be working. I didn’t think I could change another pair of soiled pants, buy another set of pull-ups, or watch my daughter be in tears, frustrated over her own body. And so before I entered the bathroom, I would say, “Because I love my God.” I made it about Him, not the task at hand, and it changed my perspective from an internal one to an eternal one.
Now, with the unique challenge of four children inching closer and closer into teenage land, I say the same thing. When I don’t think I can fight about screen time or sleepovers or boundaries on more time, I think on eternity, and I say to myself, “Because I love my God.” Immediately, I feel lighter. God and I exchange yokes — He takes my heavy one, and I take His light one.
For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
Matthew 11:30 (NIV)
May you feel His lightness today in whatever season you’re in. He is with you. He is coming back. You have the power to fully engage in this day, exchanging your worries for His eternal plan of redeeming it all for your good and His glory.Leave a Comment