A contemplative day. Not what I expected from today, but I embrace it, nonetheless. This morning while Meiners and Sashi absorbed their new favorite show (Go Diego, Go!), I sneaked onto two of my daily must-reads just to see what was there. I didn't plan to read them, per se, I just wanted to know that there'd be something to read later - during PM Kindergarten and nappy-time. I got sucked in. Briefly. And I decided to return later. To This.
Now, if you are still here, reading my shallow little blog, then I have some deeper words for you today, as well. Except they aren't mine. They are hers. But I am borrowing them to document them here for my eternity - for my space (because a link doesn't print when you make your blog a book). So, please accept my sincere apologies for taking your words, A. Ann. But they - along with NieNie in general - have struck to my very core this week.
I've thought about how easy it is to be all sweet and smiley on the outside. . . the inside being all wrong.
Talk about a lesson in HEART training. God isn't interested in how good and christian I can act or look -- lots of big smiles and sweet talk. He's interested -- no MORE than interested -- He actually came to save me from that type of deceptive living and birth me into new life!
Which is what I pray for my children - a salvation from outward form, salvation from outward behavior that covers up the running in the other direction in their hearts. I cannot forsake prayer.
I desire my children to behave - to say please and thank you and respect authority and all that. We require this. But seriously, what good is this outward form, this outward behavior, if their hearts are not changed, if their inward lives are not transformed by God's power? Ultimately, it could even be a deterrent, a hindrance in knowing God, because they may think they are good, when they are not.
I don't want to raise little hypocrites. . . who grow up to be big ones. Who will rely on their good deeds, and be blinded to their deceptive sinful hearts that need a Savior. Oh, I pray no. I have asked the Lord to show me how to cry out to their hearts and not just to their heads about why we do what we do.
I am so needy for God in this parent occupation. There are a lot of books, and seminars and speakers and even well meaning people who seem to have all the "right" answers on child training and are more than willing to give them even if they've never raised children themselves!
But honestly, it all becomes overwhelming and sometimes I truly wonder if the answer is as simple as not living for myself but for God as a wife/mother, and teaching them as well, that life does not revolve around them, but God and others!
And to live what I say I believe.
~At a football game Saturday, before getting out of the car, I heard myself say, "Now, guys let's not run all over the bleachers and climb on the railings and scare every one there trying to watch the game. Let's sit still and watch the game and cheer Scott on. . . "
And then it was like a flash of lightening buzzing through my head - "WHY? but why do I tell them this? for what reason? so others will think well of us? so I won't be humiliated? so I don't have to go to the ER in the middle of the game because one of them has fallen from the bleachers?"
Okay, that last one, yes. yes, good reason to tell them this.
I was looking into the eyes of all these children and they were listening to me and what were they grasping? In essence, what was my own heart and what was I training them in? Outward formality or something more?
I thank God for the Holy Spirit who is our Helper. I sensed this little tap, tap, tap inside my heart, "Hey, Alyssa, tell them the reason behind the action. Get to the heart."
". . .Guys, you know why we don't run on the bleachers and jump around and climb on the railings? It's not because I am wanting you to make me look good as a mommy or because I am trying to make you perfect little kids, or because I don't want you to have fun. . .
It's because in the Bible God tells us to love Him and loving Him is to love others. It's the greatest commandment, remember? Love the Lord your God with all your heart and love others as yourself. . . If God is working in your heart, you will desire to love Him and to love others. Is it loving to others to be running all over the bleachers so that they cannot see the game or enjoy the game?"
"No. . ." they replied.
"Is it loving to the women in the stands who don't have many children to see boys hanging from the bleachers looking like they will fall?"
"No. . ." they replied.
"Would it show love to Scott to cheer him on and support him in his game?"
"Yes. . ."
"So why we do what we do is because we love Jesus. It's not for people, it's not for me, it's not because we want others to think we are this great, well behaved family. It's because we love Jesus, and to love Jesus is to also love others...so do you see why I say what I say? It's not just because, and it's not about me. It's about God. Everything we do should be for Him. It's about love."
I find myself, the older the children get, talking a lot about this. Explaining in a simple way that religious behavior, or good deeds, or outward formality is not what God is after. And it's not what I am after as a parent. The heart - the relationship with God - the motive. That's where it lies.
The children are very honest with me where they feel they are spiritually. I tell them honestly where I am too. I ask them for prayer from them. There are times when I am beyond knowing what to do or I am struggling with attack in my thoughts, dealing with unforgiveness, or hurt, or whatever - feeling defeated - and I just outloud tell God about it right there with them and ask for help.
I want them to know that I am willing for them to see my weaknesses and confess, yet, that when I am weak, God is strong. I want to live out for them being real, not pretending that I am any better than them, or that I have arrived. That I am growing in my relationship with the Lord, just as they are. . .
That we are all in a process - confessing one to another, forgiving each other, giving mercy and grace to one another, encouraging each other to press on - despite failure - to humble ourselves before each other and God and look to HIM for strength.
My desire to be real before God and others has motivated them to want to do the same - sometimes I am challenged by their zeal and love for God as they pour out their hearts in prayer before Him. I listen to their hearts, crying out for revival in their own lives and I am brought to tears -- because I have not been so diligent as they have to seek this.