31 August 2011

ask st francis.

lesson du mois: cute as they are, i am not the sum of my children.

thing is, i know this. i know i've been redeemed at an unthinkable cost, and that it's madness to define my worth by anything outside of who God says i am.

and yet. when my kiddos are freshly-scrubbed model citizens, when they're bright and happy and high-achieving, it's insidiously easy to claim credit. to draw my value from these small, shining people. from my daughter, who pelts down the hall to circle me as tight as her skinny arms will go, crushing me with gratitude for adding lace to her flower girl dress. from my older boys, who don't let a day slip by without entreating me for a game of pit or soccer. z, who counts down the minutes till we can read of dragons and heroes each night.

but what happens when my child scribbles and grabs and tantrums, when at five years old he wields the emotional maturity of eighteen months and suddenly my personal worth won't pile up to a hill of beans?

what then?

yesterday was the hardest yet. m screams like the world's on fire if i hold his hand, pushes and flails if i gather him close. i'm mom, the one with those pesky things called limits and expectations and consequences, and he'd much rather seek affection from people who are all fun and no time-outs. and it feels akin to insanity, to insist on loving this small person who will kick my emotional shins all the livelong day, but he needs it and i need it and so we circle through these motions for as long as it takes, bleeding all the way.

Love is not like that, is not like
that easiness-in-getting
along that they call
Love; it is not like that, is not
like that desiring-companionship that
they call love; it is not like that, is not
like that desiring-of-one-beautiful
that they call love; it is not like that.
When will they learn that love is not
like that?

Ask St. Valentine—he was beheaded
because of love; ask St. Francis—
call him a sissy, but he became
a beggar because of love; ask
all those who know and they’ll tell
you that
Love is not like that; ask Jesus Christ.
--David DeBolt

for a God who loves me when i kick and flail
for clothes to wash
for nate the great
for mercy, clean and free
for a husband who sees
for floors to clean
to know that the story doesn't end here

* * *

join us at emily's, where grace runs thick.


Brandee Shafer said...

Dear Heavenly Father: Thank You for Nic...for her words, for her photos, for her truth and her sharing of it, for her understanding of Skin-Horse-Velveteen-Rabbit real love, for her pain and the One to whom she takes it, for her family, for her faith, for her hope in a brighter day, and for the promise: that brighter day really is coming, Lord, and thank You, again. We claim that brighter day and the goodness You will weave out of this time, according to Romans 8:28...because Nic does love You, Father, and because she HAS ABSOLUTELY been called according to Your purpose. Thank You for children and the blessing and honor in raising them, even when they are strong-willed, disagreeable, and sometimes downright embarrassing. father, I ask You to shore Nic up. I pray that she'll feel You at her back and behind her knees and all the way to the center of her heart. I pray for discernment and strength and power and wisdom and--above all--more of this real love. In Your name I ask these things, Amen.

Leah Ann said...

hugs for strength to make it through the tantrums, struggles, and "mommy shopping".

happygirl said...

True this. We are not our children. We aren't our own best behavior or our own worst behavior. We are broken, sinful humans saved by grace. Thanks for this. I've been at a low point lately and it's good to remember it's not who I am.

Jenn said...

Prayers for you Nic! Remember on the hardest of days...the most work is being done. And you WILL see the results and they WILL have been worth it! (I try to remind myself of this often!!!) You are one super Mama and I'm so proud of you. Stick in there and take his hand. Show him your love even if you have to scream it :) HUGS TO YOU!!!

Jen Shults said...

Ah Nic. I'm so sorry you are having a bit of a rough patch. You are so right though. We are not the sum of our kids. We can't stand on their accolades any more than they should be aloud to stand on our and same for short comings. And I know you know this because you are a WONDERFUL mother... but just a tiny bit of hard time now makes such a bit dividend later when things have smoothed out and limits have been set and expectations are known and respected. It's so tough to go through and such a process of building trust but he will know one day soon that even though you are the one who puts him in time out you are also the one that loves him in spite of it and because of it. Hang in there girl. No one could do this better than you.

TheUnSoccerMom said...

Philippians 4:6-7 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Prayers going up for you dear friend and for precious, little M. Oh what a joyous time it will be when he truly sees and feels the love you have for him. I know it's coming because we have a great and glorious God and He is good!!


Michelle said...

I was in tears already, and then I read Brandee's prayer for you. I'm not that eloquent in prayer, but I have the same prayers for you.
You are right, we are not the sum of our children, they come out just as they are, and we help them on their way. Sometimes they are easy people, and sometimes they are more difficult. They are not always a reflection of you.
Remember that your first kiddies had five years of solid loving and guidance and boundaries by the time they reached M's age. Poor M is catching up on that five years worth in a big rush, and facing what is likely to be a BIG culture shock at the same time. He feels your love. Those boundaries and guidelines are a demonstration of your love. The fact that you keep giving love despite M's behaviour is a demonstration of your love. It will come back to you. You will see the results of your persistance and faith.
The love you demonstrate and your faith is amazing and awe-inspiring. I send you very big hugs. Thank-you for sharing your journey, even when it's tough.

Rachel said...

hugs for strength.

prayers for peace.

love because we can.

elizabeth said...

I pray for you and little m...so hard for you both, I'm sure. I remember when my strong willed one was born, I had to pray daily for grace and for His help to love the way I should. She's a missionary to Ghana now. :)

Kath said...

You have written this so honestly and I know exactly those kicks in the shins and the fact that I need to persevere. Bless you as you live this out.
I love that poem.

Anonymous said...

This is so beautifully vulnerable and honest. Praying for you and your little M, that tomorrow will be easier.

Unknown said...

Your understanding of Skin Horse Velveteen Rabbit real love! YES!!! I pray the same thing...
I was just thinking about hose bible verses that talk about the spirit we've been given, not of fear, but of peace and such...and really I'm not feeling that way. So I have a tiny inkling, a drop in your bucket, but I'll pray it for us both, that we would feel what we have. That you (and I) would know. You know?

Mindy said...

You have such a beautiful heart. I love how you look for the scared on the hardest of days.

Being one who sets limits also means you are the one who offers security, but to small children in out of the norm for them situations, it is scary even to get what one wishes for. Every thing they've known has been removed and even if it was extremely bad it is all they've ever known. When good things happen like love, they fear that this too will disappear one day.

You have chosen the best thing, but the best thing is never the easy thing. I'm so glad that you realize that this is not the end, and God is working in unseen ways. You have a depth of insight and faith that is a true gifting.

May God bless you and your family deeply, and surround you with songs of His love.

TheUnSoccerMom said...

I was sitting in revival last night, and as I was listening to the visiting pastor, an overwhelming feeling came over me and I began to pray for you and for little M and for your family. When I say I keep you in my prayers, I do mean it.. but last night was a bit different. It was such an urgent tug on my heart from our Heavenly Father to pray for your family.

Over and over, I prayed for the Lord to hold you and lift you up. I prayed for little M's heart and I prayed for patience and love and grace and hope and faith.

Still keeping you ALL in my prayers. ((((HUGS)))

Mommy Emily said...

oh friend. oh. how you gutted me with this, how you laid your soul in words, and how i am going to pray for you right now, and for little m... for this thick grace you so beautifully describe, for deep love in you for him, for the spiritual battle going on inside of m. keep trying. keep loving. keep hugging. one day it will all be worth it. xoxo

grey rose (they/them) said...

you share so beautifully, with your heart wide open. what a ministry and encouragment to ME.
you are appreciated.
you are prayed for.
you are upheld!!

Psalm 54:4
Behold, God is my helper
the Lord is the upholder of my life.

Melissa said...

Oy...YOU. Every time I come here to this blog God speaks. This is gift. Thanks...praying for you!

Joybird said...

to know that the story doesn't end here

those words really hit home. Last night I had to admit that I have been proudly jusging God for stories that are not fully written. For events that are not unfolding the way I expected and the way I think He said they'd go. Secretly I've been calling Him a liar for stories as I write endings based on the middle of the stories I'm living in.

Sami Jo said...

Amen, Brandee. Loved this Nic. You truly have a gift of putting things into perception.
Love, Sami Jo

Shannan Martin said...

How do I miss these things? HOW? Why am I so behind? But really, this is even more fun to read tonight, in light of what I sent LAST night. I had no idea...really. Girl, I'm on the sidewalk with you. I'm right there. We will learn more about grace than we could have ever imagined, and what a gift. I prayed for M in the shower, in the bed, at the sink. I will not stop. He will resist and push back, just to make for sure for sure for sure that he's yours. And after a while, he'll know. Even if he pretends not to for a while longer, he'll know. He'll love you to his bones.

Heather said...

Knowing the great worth of it all, through the midst of it all, is what you do. I've read it over and over here on your little spot in the world and I'm convinced, God's great mercy will sustain you and your family and you will sigh one day actually seeing what you know.
In the meantime, may God give you stength as you raise these babes. You are wonderful.

amy luella said...

so much to love here, nic! for one, "but he needs it (yes) and i need it (precious that you see this)..." that poem is right on. jesus and his way is right on. funny, i know enough to know that, but then there's living that. wish i could give you and m a big hug.