Undeserved Grace

“I NEVER get the respect I deserve!”

“I just deserve a break once in a while!”

“I did nothing to deserve this hurtful treatment!”

These are all things we say to ourselves. And quite honestly, after the rough past few years, my mind thought about these things daily: “I don’t deserve this! I deserve better! I’ve done my best!”

Again and again, hurtful words said to me and actions done against me, replayed in my mind. And oh! The scenarios I made up in my thoughts about how I could change things, how I could defend myself, how I could make myself look better…even how I could make others look bad!

But you know what this type of thinking brought me? No peace at all. 

None.

I was tormented by my thoughts, by self pity, and as hard as I tried I could not, COULD NOT, see any chance of break through for the future. I felt hopeless. I felt like I needed justice and I needed to be set free by the person who had wronged me. And I knew that aside from a miracle, that would never happen.

Finally, I cried out to God one day saying: “God! You know I’ve been treated unfairly, you know I’ve been wronged…but it’s no longer that person who’s torturing me day after day…It’s my own THOUGHTS! How can I change?!? I’ve tried so hard! How can I be set free? I sat with my bible open and scanned the pages waiting, hoping for something to stand out, for something to give me peace…but the minutes ticked by and nothing happened. There I sat, alone in my room. The silence was deafening, the loneliness was painful. God seemed to be far away.

The next day again, I pleaded: “God! I’m just numbing my pain day after day! I sit on my phone and play games. I browse aimlessly on social media, waiting, hoping, YEARNING to fill the empty void that was once filled! Where did I go wrong? What did I do to deserve this?” And nothing. Just the sound of the clock on my wall counting the seconds away. Oh, once in a while I’d get a verse that spoke of God’s love for me or of his faithfulness to us, and I’d feel hope. Once in a while I’d read the book of Job or the story of Joseph and be comforted that God was working in my pain. But most of the time, I just felt like I was on a constant waiting list. Just holding on to hope that “joy would come in the morning”. When would morning come, God?

Then one night I had a dream, a sad dream. I dreamed that my sister, who loves me dearly, came over and was watching me. I’d do I bit of work, then sit back, drink wine, and play games on my phone. She looked at me, full of compassion, and said, “Heather, this isn’t you. I know that you’ve been beaten down, but this isn’t you.  Please, choose your next steps carefully because the road you’re on is a very dark path.” I woke up and felt deeply convicted. For this was the very thing I had been doing for the past while. Immediately, in the middle of the night, I deleted the games, social media and any distractions on my phone. That was the first thing.

This freed up much of my wasted time, but still, my thought’s drifted more then ever to what had happened to me. And I still felt discouraged reading God’s word. But I didn’t give up. Day after day, morning after morning I pushed through the pain and I opened the bible that had once given me so much joy.

Then one day there it was, a verse that I had read many many times, but never really seen:

“Therefore since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.” Romans 5:1-2 NLT

Undeserved privilege. Completely, utterly undeserved.

And I broke down weeping, because no, I didn’t “deserve” the pain of this last year.

What I really deserve is hell itself. That’s what I deserve. That’s what my sins deserve. But losing sight of this undeserved grace had led me to where I believed I actually deserved better.

I am completely undeserving, but able to stand confidently and joyfully before God, sharing in his glory!

My heart wasn’t able to find joy because I was focusing on all the things I deserved, but didn’t get. Now joy flooded my soul because I saw all the things God has given me that I HAVEN’T deserved. And the list is very long!

I have been saved from a meaningless life because of HIS sacrifice. I have a husband who loves me unconditionally and forgives me again and again and again, I have five beautiful HEALTHY children, I have many loving and caring friends and family who pray for me, I have an amazing church, I live in a free country that I never had to fight for, I have food on my table every single day. I have hope of one day going to heaven to meet God and you know what? I don’t deserve any of it. 

It’s SO hard to change this way of thinking. It really is. But, man, the joy is worth it. Living from a heart of thankfulness, instead of a heart full of pain is worth meditating on these things and taking every thought captive.

Friends, it’s worth seeking him through the hard times, because in the ups and downs of life there is only One that has never changed. He’s there every morning when I rise, and every night as I drift to sleep, even when I can not feel him. And I lived long enough to know from experience that while there are many things that can numb the pain, there is only one that can heal it: Jesus.

“My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.” Psalm 27:8 NLT

You are Not Your Sin

There have been people throughout history that have used ridicule and shame in attempt train a child, thinking that the lower the child feels about himself and his/her accomplishments, the harder they’ll work to succeed. This has actually been proven one of the most ineffective methods to train a child, and it’s obvious why: if a child believes he is worthless and can not make any difference in the world, he will often give up even trying. It has been proven again and again; the lowest scoring and most troubled students often come from difficult, broken homes. This is why childhood educators are taught that positive reinforcement goes a much further way in a child’s life then yet another detention. We all love to hear those uplifting stories of children who felt completely worthless in life, yet completely turned around and succeeded the moment that one adult/teacher took time to see good in them and believe in them!

Most of us parents learn these things and recognize them in our own parenting. If I yell at my children from the next room for not cleaning up fast enough, they’re rarely encouraged to work harder. In fact, the next time I ask them to clean they seem to dread it and work slower than ever!

But if I take the time to work alongside my children and train them carefully, encouraging each positive step I see, rewarding them when they work hard, the result is amazing! After only doing this a short time, my son actually came and offered one day to help sort the laundry! He was seeing it as an opportunity, not a punishment!

When my child tells me a lie, which is the right way to train him? To call him a liar and to hurl insults at him, that he’s a terrible person and tell him that he’s on his way to hell?

No way!

We know that would never shape a child’s heart the right way! He needs to be corrected, disciplined, loved, and encouraged that what he did was bad, but that he has so much more potential for good! The lie was absolutely wrong, but that’s not WHO he is!

Yet as much as most of us would agree with this line of thinking, there are so many adults in the world today that believe they are what they’ve done.

I believe this is the number one thing that is keeping many people from turning to Jesus. They feel that they’ve been on the wrong path for too long, that they’ve chosen the wrong friends, that they are unworthy of anything else, that they’ve messed far too much to go back. If this is you, I want to tell you something completely life changing: YOU ARE NOT YOUR SIN. God is not repulsed by YOU, he’s repulsed by sin. God doesn’t hate YOU, he hates sin.

God doesn’t see you as you see yourself. He doesn’t even see you as others see you!!

Want to know how God sees you? Here’s a thought: ASK him! Then listen. You may be surprised by what happens next.

God truthfully HATES sin, and his anger at sin was shown by what happened on the cross. I’m not writing a blog post on how God is okay with sin. He’s absolutely not! He is furious at it. Sin caused his own Son’s death on a cross!

Sometimes we see injustice on the Earth and ask why God allows it all? Here’s why: Because he doesn’t see you as equal to your sin! He knows that the moment he comes to put an end to it all and make all the wrong things right, times up. The Bible says that God’s patiently waiting, for ALL people to turn to him. This is why God is ever beckoning us to leave our lives of sin, to turn from evil and repent! If he believed that we were equal to our sins, he wouldn’t wait! He’d demand justice NOW!

But he waits so patiently, you can almost hear him groaning, for he hates the injustice far more than we do, but he LOVES his people SO MUCH.

Now I’m actually not just writing this post for those who have not yet turned to Christ, because I really wanted to address something that I commonly see in Christians as well.

There is a heinous lie that is being taught in many churches that the lower you think of yourself, the more spiritual you must be.

This is completely false.

It sounds good, until you actually stop and read what God’s word has to say:

You are a child of God (John 1:12). You are God’s friend (John 15:15). You are the Apple of God’s Eye (Zechariah 2:8). He died because he loved YOU enough to sacrifice himself for YOU (John3:16). You are the salt and light of the world (Matthew 5:13). You are God’s Temple (1 Cor 3:16). You are a member of Christ’s body (1 Cor 12:27)!

Humility and low self-esteem aren’t the same thing, they are actually enemies.

One can not have true humility by thinking that you’re worth nothing, or that you are the problem with the world. That’s actually just self-hate.

True humility comes not from putting yourself down, but rather from lifting God up.

When you really see the greatness of God, you can’t help but be humbled…and when you realize that He chose YOU, you can no longer feel as if you are worth nothing. This brings about confidence AND humility.

Confidence because of your immeasurable worth to God, but humility because you had nothing to do with it! It was God’s work that made you clean, it was his Spirit living in you that changed you, it is him who works all things together for your good.

How do I end this? What do I say? I long with ALL my heart for everyone I know to KNOW the one true God, the one I love and I ache when those who do know him, still cannot see the difference between themselves and their sin. There is such a HUGE difference between godly conviction and the hopelessness of condemnation.

“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” 2 Corinthians 7:10

You are NOT your sin. You are CHERISHED. You are WANTED. You are LOVED.

A Thousand Broken Pieces

Life right now feels alot like broken glass.

There are so many painful feelings, so many confusing thoughts about life in my head…yet no way to reconnect them all.

You know that feeling? When glass shatters everywhere and you try to neatly clean it all up, carefully picking up the big pieces and sweeping away the smaller ones, but when you finally think you’ve dealt with every single piece, you step on another little shard of glass that was hidden from view.

Then you wonder how many more are left.

And for some odd reason, all the pieces seem connected to the same situation. A situation that has friendship, trust, right/wrong, motherhood, compassion, hurtful words, betrayal, lies, forgiveness, confusion, gossip, waiting, obedience/disobedience and salvation all in the same story. It’s a messed up story, one that has played out over the course of many years and one that seems like a nightmare that may never truly end. Yet it will end. But the waiting is painful.

One thing is certain: Sin really messes things up. Things that were once black and white, become grey. Things that were once easy to decide become tricky situations. And one hurt led to another, which led to another and what started as a little smouldering grass quickly became a forest fire.

And while my head says: “move on”, my heart can’t do that. It just can’t.

In high school, I once wrote a poem about love. It went like this:

Love

To wait for a moment you know will never come,
To have hope when all is hopeless,
To dream of day when night has just begun,
that is what love is.

It’s why my heart just can’t let go. Because it is full of love for the people in this situation. I still hope for reconciliation, even when my head knows there is no possible way for things to go back to the way they were. My heart still hopes. And the moment my hope dies, I fear my love will too. Love is the only thing that can cover over everything that has happened:

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8

For the longest time I used to say, “as soon as this stage is over, then life will get easier” but then it would be over and the next task, activity, stage or problem would arise. As soon as I was done high school, I dove into motherhood. As soon as I began to get the hang of that, sickness entered the picture. Then as soon as that was over there was another child on the way. And after me and my husband got used to parenting two, then we would have another crisis! And on, and on, and on. I thought that if I could just get over these big distractions and troubles, I would finally be able to REALLY get on with my life.

And then I finally realized that the problems and struggles WERE life.

This changed everything. To miss out on all of life, waiting for everything to be perfect is a great tragedy. Those who believe in Jesus, know that someday everything WILL be perfect.

Just not yet.

And that doesn’t mean that I can’t find joy in the pain, laughter in the struggles, peace in the heart ache, happiness in hardship.

Childbirth is one of the best illustrations of this. For my first child I absolutely DREADED going into labour. The fear of the pain was terrifying, the embarrassment of being exposed in front of so many people was humiliating, the helplessness of feeling betrayed by my own bodily functions and the awkwardness of everything to me was just horrifying. But as each child came, I came to appreciate more and more about it: The excitement in the air, calling the midwife, the soft talks between contractions, being treated like the queen of the hour, being loved, served, and taken care of. It still hurt. It was still humiliating. It was messy. But there was good to be found. And the sweet sound of a new crying baby, stroking those smooth cheeks for the first time, marvelling at the tiny fingers and toes, breathing in that perfect newborn smell; those are some of the most heartwarming memories of my life. And yet they were the most painful.

I guess what I’m saying is this: look for good in the pain. It’s there, I promise.

When one friend betrays you, focus on the others that haven’t. When the children have been fighting all day, remember the sweet snuggles they gave you in the morning. When your spouse forgets your birthday, think of all those texts you got all day. When you experience loss, look at all those around that you still have comforting and loving on you. When you crash your car, be thankful that you’re still around. When you’re all alone crying because you feel as if no one understands or cares, look again. Find Jesus. He’s there. He’s taking care of you in your darkest hour of need. He’s right beside you. I promise.

 

 

The Cross

Heart full of pain, pack heavy as lead,
Not really alive, neither fully dead.
Wandering on to meaningless trails,
Endless darkness, walking the rails.
What am I here for?
Stumbling pain unto pain,
Life is a joke! Nothing to gain.
Flashes of visions: A man on a cross.
Why was he there? Never quite knew,
With all of my struggles, didn’t care to.
Why must everything bad happen to me?
How to avoid it, when one couldn’t see.
Darkness so thick you could choke on the black,
The load just increases upon my sore back.
Strength slowly dying, along with my soul,
Dreams become curses, crushing my goals.
Oh God, what’s the point? Are you even there?
Or am I just cursing into thin air?
If really existing, you’d make yourself known!
Why live anymore if I’m walking alone?
Night cold and hard, yet easier to breathe,
Darkness still felt, but thinner it seems.
I was told to follow my heart all along,
So why did this happen? Where did I go wrong?
Walking along the path that was shown,
Never thought I’d be stuck here, cast out and alone.
“Help!” The cry feels stuck in the air,
“Help me! Please! Much more I can’t bear!”
No sooner the words escape from my lips,
When the heavy pack drops from my grip.
In terror I struggle, I can’t let it go,
Turn back to grab hold, but notice a glow.
A dim light, so faint, didn’t see it before,
Grabbing my pack, I turn to see more.
Dawn peaks her head up from under the night,
I draw ever closer, so mysterious the light.
A loud sound hits the Earth, I hear it so near!
A gruesome sound that turns my stomach in fear,
A man groaning in pain, I rush to the sound,
Crying out loudly, for this man must be found!
The day steadily grows clearer and so does the cry,
Hurry to make it or this man will but die!
Then…there he is, hanging – Oh Lord! It can’t be!
A man cut up and bruised on a dark, blood-stained tree!
“Who did this?!?” I scream!
“How dare they?!?” I shout!
The evil that put this man here, it’s no lie,
The person who did this deserves to die!
Then the eyes of the man turn and look straight at me,
I can barely describe what it looks like to see,
Such innocent eyes, filled with love and pain,
Powerful eyes, but gentle the same.
How could there be such humility there,
Joined with authority in the same stare?
I look all around, searching who is to blame,
Justice would treat them exactly the same.
The man starts to speak, the Earth shakes with his words,
And I know that this Man is the Lord of all Lords!
“My Child, Understand, I was put here for you.”
Falling down on my knees, “Oh God, what did I do?”
Surely, I had nothing to do with this Man,
I had nothing to do with the iron piercing His hands.
Then my pack that I’m holding splits right into two,
And as the nails spill out, I see that it’s true.
The pack that I held, held the proof I was wrong,
The nails that I carried told the truth all along.
It was my very nails that held up the Son,
I could now only scream, “Oh, God! Look what I’ve done!!!”
But it was no use, for the Man’s life was gone.
Weeping and wailing, I fall to the ground,
My sobs carry for miles, a hopeless, lost sound.
Lowly before the cross I now lie,
Not to get up, for down here I will die.
Time standing still, the world holds its breath,
Then who comes forth – but the Man! Defeating his death!
Jaw open, limbs shaking…how can this be?
And my heart trembles greatly as He strides towards me.
Out in the open, nowhere to hide,
Exposed in my filth, dead to my pride.
I brace myself greatly and wait for the blow,
But to my surprise, the Man stoops down low.
He lifts my tear covered face in His hand;
The same voice that formed the sea and the land,
Speaks over me these three precious words, “I love you.”
Then says, “All that I wanted was that you would see,
What I really did for you on that old cursed tree.
And now you have done all that you need,
For in repentance and rest you will find that you’re freed!
It is finished, throw that old pack away!”
The Man stood there shining, brighter than day.
In death I died with Him, in His life I live still,
Now my heart cry becomes, not mine – but His will!
No longer a slave to the sins of my past,
I am saved by His blood, safe at home, free at last!

Stop Claiming your Thoughts are God’s

There are not many things that make my blood boil… but there are a few things that make me furious… these include:

Children being abused, neglected or  abandoned.

People abusing their authority over others who are weaker than them.

A person in power who turns a blind eye to evil and refuses justice when it is in their power to judge.

Rich living comfortably at the expense of the poor.

And I’m sure there’s a few more but one thing that bothers me just as much as those listed above are those who say “Thus says the Lord” when the Lord Almighty has not spoken.

Now don’t get me wrong, God speaks. God speaks today in many ways. He speaks to me and guides me in many ways…he comforts me when I’m hurting, he gives me courage when I’m afraid, he corrects me when I’m wrong. He’s even given me clear direction when I’ve felt completely lost and told me very specific things about my children so that I may better know how to raise them.

But there’s one thing he doesn’t do…he never tells me that I’m the centre of it all and that the people around me are here for my benefit. Actually, his message never is centred around my life completely. His message always points me back to himself. His message never puts down other people. His message brings life, repentance, forgiveness and truth.

Now what on earth got me to start writing about this today? Well today I was scrolling through my Facebook news feed and I saw this:

IMG_5948

And it really, REALLY bothered me. Not because the message was entirely untrue…. actually there is some truth to it. But because the message was not biblical and it claimed to be straight from God’s mouth.

And if it said: “The reason some people have turned against you and walked away with from you without reason, has EVERYTHING to do with you, because they will not go where you are going next. They will only hinder you on your journey because they have already chosen their purpose in life. Let them go and keep moving, greater is coming,” I might even agree!

This would be true in many situations for me. I have had to let go of many good friends in my teenage years, because if I would have held on to them I would not have become a good wife or a good mother. I couldn’t hang out with people who drank and did drugs if I wanted to move forward in my life. I couldn’t go to those parties or bars if I wanted to live purely before God. I couldn’t go on hanging out with all sorts of other men and expect to have a healthy marriage. And it was ENTIRELY because of me! I had changed. I was a new creation. I was no longer content to live for myself.

But the thing is:

a) I completely changed what the quote said to make it biblically true,

and b) I didn’t say “God says” because he didn’t say it! I actually made that quote up!

Now sometimes God does remove people from your life, for seemingly no reason. This last year he removed some very dear friends from mine. It hurt. It stung SO bad. I’ve cried and begged him to bring us back together. And I don’t know why it happened, or why he allowed it. But I know for certain he didn’t do it because they were “hindering me” or because I was “hindering them.” In fact these people were always a positive influence in my life. They spoke truth. They did not compromise their relationship with God for lesser things. And honestly I am who I am today because of these dear people. But God, for now, has seemingly led us on different paths. Whatever the case, I believe he still leading all of us… we’re still all going in the same direction, we’ve just parted ways for now.

And here’s my problem with lies spoken in the name of God: when we believe that God is only on our side and against those who’ve hurt us, we have made false image of God that we are bowing down to. It’s not him. It’s not God. You are bowing down to an idol. God doesn’t bring people into our lives so they can serve their purpose in our self-centred world and then remove them when they can no longer meet our needs. That’s called Narcissism, a belief that everything exists for MY good.

God brings people together so that they can learn to serve and love each other. He wants us to stop and care for those around us who have fallen, not to shove them aside and keep climbing higher. Now if those who stumble are dragging you down with them, then yes you may have to leave them in God’s loving hands, or turn them over to someone who’s stronger than you to help them. But it’s not a light decision and it’s definitely not because they’ve “fulfilled their purpose” in your life…as if God would create people to serve you.

Now, the last thing I want to do is to make people fearful of sharing any encouraging words or things that God has spoken to them. But please, PLEASE, if what you’re sharing isn’t directly out of the bible, do not say “God says” or act as if it’s a direct quote from his mouth. Share it as your thoughts or say, “I felt like the Holy Spirit was speaking this to me today.” Then you will not risk deceiving those who may not know the Living God or the Words he speaks.

Because one of the greatest tragedies in the church today are people who think that their thoughts are God’s thoughts and speak/judge accordingly. We are often so blinded by sin that we cannot see clearly and as good as our intentions are, they aren’t pure like God’s. We see things dimly, but he sees it as it is. We judge partially, but God’s judgements are based on truth. And let’s face reality here: God does not think like man.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

So please, dear friends, take credit for your own thoughts and give God the glory for His.

The Struggle and the Blessing

So…I actually accidentally published this already before it was done. If you happen to follow me, you will have received an email with a blog post that made absolutely no sense. It’s the way I write, sometimes I start a thought and then I add a completely different thought to another paragraph. Once I put it all together it makes sense, but I’m afraid if you enter my brain while I’m writing it’s like entering the brain of a four year old with ADHD who has just finished drinking a 2 litre bottle of pop. Just be happy that it was only an email and that you don’t have to live inside my head.

Lots of people ask me if I’ve always wanted five children. I really don’t mind answering that question. I actually enjoy it, for the question amuses me.

The answer is no. Never in a million years would I have chosen to have five children. Nor would I ever have thought that I of all people would be a mother of FOUR boys. I didn’t even like being around boys when I was really young. I grew up with only sisters. I was much too calm, too organized and I liked all things girly. I also liked being alone, playing or reading quietly. I remember being appalled at the boys I did come in contact with who would burp or fart loudly and then obnoxiously laugh. These such people I avoided at all costs.

The question on the heels of that answer is, “So why in the world did you have five children?!?” Ha! Another good question. And there are actually two answers to that one.

First of all, I changed. I no longer look at life as something I can mold and manipulate to be what I desire. I discovered through many hardships, that some of the biggest challenges bring with them the biggest blessings. And when I try to control circumstances around me to fit what makes me feel safe, what provides me with stability, and what essentially is ‘my way’ often it doesn’t be turn out to be what I expected. So I became open to see what life would hand me, rather than what I could make it do for me.

Second of all, we were never the type to carefully family plan. We got pregnant when we got pregnant, simply because I was unable to go on birth control and we weren’t a fan of some of the other methods out there.

When I had my first two kids – a boy then a girl (exactly the genders I wanted and the order I wanted them in), I very seriously considered being done having kids. We had one of each, the million dollar family – or so it’s called. After all, there is a lot more you can do with just two kids. Hotels are set up for four. Cars easily fit a family of four. Two parents…two kids, each one takes a child and it’s SO much easier to have control. I could make sure that they get disciplined every time, that I can always be there to comfort them if they get hurt, that we could afford to buy them all the things they need. Each child gets new clothing, no hand me downs.

And yet…I knew deep down that as much as this life may be the goal for other families (and it’s totally great to see families of four) that this is not what I really wanted. I enjoy big family gatherings, with lots of cousins. And I wanted someday to see my family come together at Christmas with lots of personalities and games. That’s what I grew up with! So I was torn between what I felt I could handle (two) and what I wanted deep down. My husband wanted four boys and so I humoured him that we would have kids until we had exactly that.

After we had our third, parenting as I knew it changed drastically and I became aware of who I really was. For some people this happens after one or two kids…for me it was three.

It’s SO easy to act like you have it all together when everything is good and under your control. It’s when hardships come that we are faced with who we really are. Not to say that my first two kids were perfect by any means…there were huge challenges there as well, but things changed. I couldn’t go out and feel safe with my kids anymore, I only had two hands – one to hold that five million pound car seat (praise God I’m done with those!!!) and another hand to hold the hand of my 18 month old daughter. My firstborn son, who was still two at the time, had to listen perfectly or he ran the very real risk of being in danger. If three kids woke up at the same time in the night, I could no longer give my husband a nudge to take one and I the other; we were now outnumbered and one kid had to learn to wait. And when I was nursing the newborn, my toddlers would fight!! Now what? My poor new baby never got to finish a meal!

I became frazzled, feeling like there was no peace, like there was never enough of me, like someone ALWAYS wanted SOMETHING from me and I just had nothing left to give. And it was no longer possible for me to dress them the way I wanted, to discipline them every single time, to spend the daily one on one time with them, to do my devotions, to make the fully balanced homemade meals, to have the spotless house, to get my workout in, to…well you get the idea. Suddenly I was forced to choose: What is really important?

And you know what? Slowly things in my life that at one time had seemed like necessities (nice clothes, staying in shape, clean house, perfectly obedient kids) now seemed less and less important. I began to ask myself, who do I want my kids to remember me as? A beautiful woman, who got sitter after sitter while I did my hair, nails, workout, tanning, etc? A woman who had the perfect, spotless house that they could barely play in without damaging? A woman with a strong career they could be proud of, that provided enough for name brand clothes and fancy vacations? The woman who constantly yelled at them because they were never good enough?

Or did I want them to remember me as simply ‘mom’? Who was there for them, in my bed, bible on my lap when they came in the morning for snuggles? Who wanted to spend time in the morning preparing my heart for the day, rather than my face? Who cleaned, but also knew when to stop cleaning to read a book, or build a Lego house?

I wanted to be a person who cared more about my children then the mess they were making. I wanted to spend time training them to help me with the housework, rather than hiring someone who would obviously do a much better job, even though it meant a house that felt disgusting to me at times. I wanted to be a mom who saw children as a lifelong blessing, not a temporary inconvenience.

Children ARE a blessing. They just are!

Yet why is there that content struggle in us, whether we admit it or not, to see children like a burden to carry or as a season to bear through? Why do we Mothers (and Fathers) constantly think to ourselves: When they just get a little bit older, or, once they’re done this stage, THEN I’ll enjoy them more? Why, when we look back to when they were smaller, do we all feel at least a slight twinge of regret knowing that deep down we wished some of the most precious years of their life away? I don’t want to live like that!

It was after my third child, that I came to embrace the struggle of motherhood with all that I am. And how appropriate that Jonas’ name means “a gift from God” for this is exactly what he is, he was a gift that made me realize that struggle is not something to be avoided at all costs. For in the day-to-day struggle, in those difficult stages, memories are being made, characters are being formed and I am growing more and more into who God wants me to be. And some days (ok LOTS of days) I still see that old girl, the selfish me, who wants the quiet house, the clean house, who wants order and control, who would rather finish my doing my hair before church then clean up the box of Cheerios that was just dumped all over the floor, who would rather finish this blog post then be interrupted yet again by another fight to solve…but that’s not who God wants me to be.

Because in the struggle He’s answering those prayers I’ve been praying all these years: he’s making me more patient and less selfish. He’s teaching me to gently guide my children rather than to harshly require right behaviour. I’m becoming less independent and relying on him more. I’m becoming a servant, rather than a boss. I’m becoming like Jesus.

And then I look at the neat little life I would’ve planned out for myself and I go ‘Ha! I’m glad God ruined my plans!’

 

Guilty as Charged

The Accuser paces in front of the room, he clears his throat, his opponent will now face his doom!

“Your Honour,” he begins his eloquent speech, “I’m here because the man sitting before you is guilty. I’ll prove it, it’s true! He’s unfit to live, if only you knew! His face shows his guilt, though his mouth’s full of lies, his thoughts are impure; his life you’d despise! Deep in his heart there are anger and malice within: He complains about work, so ungrateful he is! He talks behind backs, he even yells at his kids! He’s lazy and gluttonous, you can see by his size. He is greedy and hoards his wealth, just look at all he buys! He is full of deceit, and his motives are selfish within! I wonder if he has even one thought that’s not linked to sin. Yes, he does do some good, but clearly those motives are laced with pride, not humility, it’s just to keep people on his side! Even his good acts are filthy and grim! What else is there to say? He should be ripped apart, limb by limb!!!”

“Is this true?” asks the Judge, looking at the Accused. The old man’s eyes stare hard at the floor, never daring to lift, gives a slight nod and no more. He doesn’t dare say a word! His shoulders, they sag with the weight of  the world. His face full of pain, his soul sad and withdrawn. He stands before the judge, guilty as charged.

The Judge raises his gavel high up in the air, “I sentence this man to life put away. He’s hopeless, he’s lost…locked up he will stay…” But before the order is finished, a loud cry is heard!

“Please wait Your Honour! Let me say a word!”

The Judge looks up, surprised: “Who dares defend this man, after all he has done? You dare represent him…this dark, filthy one?”

A Man with Authority steps out from the back. As they see who he is, the people all gasp! Surely this man wouldn’t defend! He’s so highly respected, the Man coming forth, this Man – he was faultless! Set apart! Right from birth! The Man known as Defender, not a mistake to his name! Surely he shouldn’t take sides with this man put to shame.

The Defender slowly walks to the front and lovingly speaks, “This man,” he begins, “is not at all like you speak.”

Then he turns on the slideshow of the pieces He saw, the broken man weeping and reaching for God. The heart always soft to do what he was told, his hands helping the sick…he cared for the old! Slide after slide was shown of the man giving his wealth, when not a single soul saw, of him telling the truth, though it cost him his job! He showed the man blessing those who had cursed, he showed this man praying for those who had treated him the worst!

“But wait!” yelled the Accuser! “What about those things I have said, they can’t be denied! That old man’s good as dead!”

The Defender spoke up, “You know they are true as well as I, but you also know well for those sins I have died! I paid for them fully, how dare you bring up those moments again! My blood was poured out, I made him new right there and THEN! This new man you see, is not who you accused. This poor man, he is mine and he must be let loose!”

The Judge thoughtfully nodded, then softly he spoke: “Then the price has been paid, let him go. Set him free!”

The old man, once accused jumped up, shouting with glee! For he deserved death, but the Defender paid the fee!