A couple of weeks ago, I borrowed a book on CD from our church library, A Woman After God's Own Heart, by Elizabeth George. I had listened to most of the first disc over a couple laundry folding and ironing sessions at home, but yesterday had the chance to listen to a large chunk of the book driving to and from Pittsburgh. The topics covered included marriage, motherhood, and time management. I felt very spurred on to love and good deeds by Mrs. George's words of wisdom and Biblical guidance! I was also struck by how much of her message was similar to other female Bible teachers I know who have dug deeply into the Scriptures to seek out the what and the how of following God as a woman. It is good to find consistency!
Mrs. George shared about how much their home changed when she and her husband became a Christians. Life was lived more intentionally; they really wanted to obey and honor God. As a mother, she knew she had to discipline and guide her children, but quickly became a dictator. She knew something was missing. She found out what as she studied her Bible even more: affection. The Word of God taught her not only to teach her children obedience, it also set her free to like and enjoy them!
As she shared this, I was reminded of my own transition from seeing my kids as little beings to manage and teach obedience to seeing them as people to like, enjoy, and cherish. Sally Clarkson's words were my start down that path; God used her counsel through her books to change my heart.
Mrs. George explained that as she was reading Titus 2, seeking out what young women should be learning and doing, she came across the line, Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children. As she's fond of doing (you learn from her book) she got her husband's study books and looked up what love meant in that passage. It is not the unconditional love we know God has for us and that we know we are to have for our kids. Rather it is a word for affectionate love!
Friends, you love your kids, but do you like them? As Sally might ask, have you studied them, gotten to know their likes and dislikes, their gifts and talents, their hopes and fears? Do you think of your children only as a huge drain on your time, energy, and finances? Or does your heart swell with affection for them when they come to mind?
I know, I know, our kids are not always likable. Neither are we! I also know that practicing liking one's children transforms the home. Our job as moms is not simply to manage and discipline our kids. Another part of our calling is to love them, affectionately.
My encouragement to you today is to give liking your kids a go! Sit down with them and talk, play a game together, take a walk, go for ice cream, and just enjoy the little or big one(s) God has placed in your care. I know rearing kids is not easy; it is hard work as a sinner to help to tame a younger sinner and teach them to walk in God's ways. I am familiar with the weariness. But I have also found that liking my kids and enjoying their company makes the hard parts more tolerable and makes me want to help them more, because my affection for them won't let me desire any less.
Press on, parents. God is with you!