Sometimes my children’s neediness, whining, crying, sibling rivalry, clutter and chaos feel like an onslaught.
As I move from one child’s need to another- giving, accommodating, consoling, helping and serving- I feel like a terrible version of Shel Silverstein’s “The Giving Tree”.
I feel more like The Depleted Tree.
In fact, by the end of the day, I often feel like a mere stump of myself whose fruit, branches, trunk and all have been beaten out of me. Needless to say, this grim outlook has made me sulk on more than one occasion.
It has caused me to be resentful and yearn for a season other than the one I’m currently in.
Obviously, this perspective doesn’t do much good for my overall attitude towards motherhood. Or for the spiritual temperature in my home.
When I’m in a negative frame of mind, it inevitably spills over to my kids, who then display sulky moods. And joy and thankfulness are in short supply around here.
But when I pray about my burden, I realize that I am not The Depleted Tree. I am not a victim of my children’s needs and demands.
Instead, I am The Gardener; I am the one with agency, calling, vision and responsibility.
I am the one who is teaching, training and nurturing my children so that when they demand something, I get to decide the best way to address their needs.
When they cry, fight, or make messes, I get to consider the best direction for their lives and act accordingly.
Looking Past Today
The one place that the most sanctifying work is done is in our homes. That is why we are where we are.
And that is exactly where Satan wants to worm his way in and devour your peace, joy and love.
He wants you to feel frustrated. And exhausted. And inadequate. He wants you to give up.
He wants you to feed off the misery of discovering you have Class A Sinners. He wants you to feel hopelessly stuck in this phase where there is cleaning up messes and never getting help. Settling squabbles and never seeing change.
The enemy of your soul doesn’t want you to recognize that what you’re really doing is the hard, but incredible work of raising people.
He wants to prevent you from looking past today and just see a child with demanding physical needs, instead of someone becoming a person– a person of strength and courage and wisdom and love and compassion.
Shifting Our Perspective
By reminding myself “I am the gardener” of my precious children’s souls, I move from feeling like a martyr to feeling like a maker. I move from resentment to rest.
I remember that there is the shaping of lives which goes on in the midst of each ordinary day. I’m able to recognize the lessons being learned during the conflicts and the hardships.
I am also able to find the positive in the negative. Philippians 4:8 says,
Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
When I’m intentional about it, I can find something honorable and praiseworthy in each of my children. I can find something lovely about an otherwise bad day.
Laying down our burdens
God cares about moms who desperately need the grace to be Christ-like in the daily grind. When we pray about our burdens, He will surprise us with strength and endurance.
My worst days are when I mask my limitations and keep slaving away despite my bad attitude, my need for help, or my exhaustion. When I ignore my human limits, I crash… and I usually tear down my family while I’m at it.
Instead of me taking on the heavy load of being the supplier for my kids, all I need to do is receive from the Lord and be a broken vessel that pours out.
My children are just on the receiving end of that. Really, He is the supplier and we are the vessels of that supply.
Understanding this makes all the difference. I am strengthened to be both pleasant towards my kids and present with them. I’m able to serve and love them with a cheerful heart.
The fruit of peace, joy, gentleness and goodness in my house starts to become evident.
When we lean into God, casting our cares on Him, we are lifted up and sustained. And we receive a grateful attitude that brings life to our families and buoys our homes.