Life is Good: Parenthood is the best!As I mentioned in my pumpkin bread post, I recently joined a new mom's group. Last week, it was my turn to provide a devotion for the group before we heard our speaker talk about "God, Girlfriends, and Chocolate".
As I considered what I might do for a quick, but meaningful devotion, I pondered parenthood. I know that being parents has changed Grant's and my life. But has it changed me? Has it changed who I am at the core? Indeed, I am less self-centered. But this was no higher plane, awakened, enlightened, Mother Teresa act of self abnegation. It was out of necessity, really. I had no choice. Motherhood means that I am now number four on the totem pole.
I really don't think parenthood has changed who I am. I think it has only emphasized it. And made me more aware of who I am, of my actions, of my words, of my influence on my family. I feel fortunate that I had kind of "figured out who I was" before I had children. I have confidence in that. I'm not trying to be someone else or figure out who I want to be. I'm not telling other people's stories or chasing someone else's dream. I'm also not trying to fit into someone else's shoes. Or jeans. That doesn't mean that I don't have things that I need to work on. Oh, yes. There are plenty of flaws there and work to be done. But they are my flaws. My imperfections.
As I sat with my own thoughts for a moment (the little one was napping and I had a few short minutes before I had to pick up the big kid at the bus stop), I considered the difference between parenthood and motherhood. Motherhood is such an enormously juicy notion to me. Too wondrous and magnificent and complicated and full to even attempt to wrap my brain around in a few moments. Parenthood, too, so big and layered and deep...
One thing is for sure. Parenthood has helped me comprehend my own parents' love for me. It's made me appreciate their feelings more. It's made me read into their thoughts a little better. And made a deep, loving connection even stronger.
Parenthood has also helped me understand God's love for me even better, too. Me, His child, His creation.
I love the quote from Elizabeth Stone that says, "Making the decision to have a child - it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ” (I used it in my "second week of kindergarten" post.) And the quote is so true! The moment you give birth, you lose a little bit of control, your child gains a little bit of free will, and the outside world gets a little more involved minute by minute by minute.
And now I understand that it is the same for God. He created me, envisioned a perfect path and enormous blessings for me, and then sent me off in to life armed with free will and into a world that slowly gets more involved minute by minute by minute.
Grant and I are going through the same thing with our little ones. Especially the five-year old. We do all we can to provide a strong foundation for him and then we send him off into the world each day. We hope and pray that he will put his best foot forward; that he will make the right choices and have good behavior. We celebrate when he does. And when he doesn't, we do our best to help him get back on the right path and support him through it all. And as I watch these children try to navigate through this life, I realize better that God is doing the same with me. He's watching over me, hoping and praying that I will put my best foot forward and make the right choices and He rejoices when I do. And when, instead of putting my best foot forward, I stick my foot in my mouth or something else, He's there to steer me back into the right direction...supporting and uplifting me through it all.
This notion reminded me of one of my favorite bible passages, Ephesians 3:17-19 (New Living Translation) "Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in Him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God."
These words have always filled me up. I find them so encouraging and awe-inspiring and thought-provoking. God's love for us truly is baffling, unintelligible, incomprehensible, beyond human capabilities. And yet, it is there. Surrounding us daily. Wrapping around us. Lifting us up. Carrying us through it all. I think the unfathomable aspect of God's love is what is most empowering to me. Too big for my mind, it fills my heart up until it overflows.
So the pondering continued. You know, this parenthood thing is not for the weak of heart or delicate of spirit. I find it so exhilarating and gratifying. I think it is the most important work that any one person can do in this world. It fills my heart up with joy so much that it feels like it might burst at any moment. But it can also be heart-wrenching and exhausting and stressful. And sometimes, it can be all of the aforementioned emotions in an eight-hour period of time!
I have a piece of prose that I printed out several years ago. I think it is a lovely meditation and perfectly apropos for parents:
"O, do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger! Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks! Then the doing of your work shall be no miracle. But you shall be a miracle. Every day you shall wonder at yourself, at the richness of life which has come to you by the grace of God."(Phillips Brooks)
May you always be empowered and inspired, knowing that you are a celebrated child of God. Knowing that He created you exactly the way you are for good reason and to live a richly blessed life full of purpose. May you feel comforted and strengthened knowing that God loves you and watches over you, delighting when you stay on the right path and cradling you when you make a wrong turn. All the while, loving you, His precious, precious creation.