Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Fear and Love

When I was pregnant with my first baby, I lived in an idealistic world.  I was certain that if I just had the nursery all ready and the diapers all stacked and the clothes all folded, everything else would fall into place.  I would magically know what to do when the baby cried; I would instinctively know all about her needs and her wants, possibly even knowing these things before she even "asked".  My first surprise of motherhood was having a C-section.  I had planned an ordinary birth with no complications, expecting to return home shortly after the birth.  Rather, I had a scheduled birth via C-section and stayed in the hospital for 4 days because this first baby was going to come out her own way... upside down and backwards.  This was my first clue that I wasn't in control of this being a mom thing.  My kid was. 

I have some perfectionistic tendencies about how I should do things and how things should go.  I want to do things right.  I like to do things without mistake.  I enjoy when all of the details of the day line up the way that I need them to.  Well, let's just admit it - The way I WANT them to.  Truthfully, I don't think that this makes me an evil or bad person.  Some will tell me that it does, but I disagree.  Wanting things a certain way causes me to be organized, meet deadlines, and live a generally un-chaotic life.  So why do I get shamed and blamed for this?  Why do I feel like being a high achiever and having expectations is something I should feel guilty for?  

I've been a mom for 16 years now.  And I am have been poking my head out of my idealistic bubble now for at least the past 6 years - the years that my kids entered double digits.  I'm still learning the same lesson -  that I'm not in control.  But wait... I have to be in control.  People are counting on me to be in control.  My teenagers need me to help with their schedules.  My younger ones need their laundry done and their lunches packed.  Why is there a place where parents can look up grades if parents aren't supposed to care about grades?  Why does my child hand me a permission slip from school needing my signature to leave on a school bus, and hours later this same child yells at me to stay out of her life?  This is the quandary. The secret to be uncovered.   To BE in control, yet not BE controlling.  To manage the household and the details of the calendar, to remember all of the dates of concerts and games and lessons and practices AND  to never be late and never be tired and grouchy.  To have the meals planned and the uniforms washed, to snuggle and read, to listen and guide.  To BE in control, and yet not BE controlling.  This secret, this balance, can only be discovered for me through daily mediation on scripture.  To seek my direction from God's word, teaching me about patience and humility; reminding me of His Will not my own. 

I shared with another mom a frustrating moment that I had in parenting this week.  I might have mentioned packing one of my child's things and setting them at the front door.  She laughed and said "Thanks for saying that.  Everyone thinks those things, but nobody says them.  Every mom puts on this act that motherhood is easy when really it's the hardest thing any of us have ever done."  Together, we encouraged each other and patted one another's back for making it through another day without a homicide or suicide attempt.  But why?  Why don't we tell it like it is and be truthful? That our feelings are hurt, and our bodies are exhausted, and we're sometimes forgetful, and we're often not present even though we long to be.

I think we don't tell the truth because we're afraid.  I'm afraid.  If I say the dreaded words "I'm failing" or "I can't do this anymore", I risk opening myself up to criticism, to other parents peeking into my home and shaking their heads at me.  I'm afraid that someone will tell me "You're a bad mom".  I'm afraid of disappointing my children and I'm afraid of ruining my children.  I'm afraid that I'm not enough and then I fear that I'm way too much.  I've got to stop allowing fear to be the controller and rather I need to pursue the Prince of Peace as the one who controls my heart and mind. He is the one who reminds me that He CHOSE me to be the mom, handpicked me for these kiddos because He knows that with Him, I am enough, I'm a great mom, I'm doing a good job.  Colossians 3:15 says "Let the Peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.  And BE THANKFUL."

The end of that verse, after commanding us to allow the Peace of Christ to be in control, gives us another command -  Be thankful.  This is the only way for me to BE in control yet not BE controlling.  If I let Jesus rule, then He is in control, and when I am focused on being thankful my heart will be surrendered to Jesus, recognizing Him as the one who helps, guides, directs, forgives.  In this mind-set, there isn't any room to be afraid.  I can trust my kids to Him, I can trust that He has the past and the future in His hands, I can trust that He is going to work all things out for our good.  These are His promises. They are written for me so that when I have an "at wits end" day of being a mom, I can find my hope in what my Heavenly Father tells me.  He is here, He sees us, He loves us. And...

 "There is no room in love for fear.  Well-formed love banishes fear.  Since fear is crippling, a fearful life - fear of death, fear of judgment - is one not fully formed in love." 1 John 4:18 MSG