I am finding that writing about cultivating the habit of calm is going much differently than I imagined. I thought it would end up as more of a 10 step plan with straightforward things we could all do to keep our cool. However, when I sit down to write to you, I realize that all of the best ideas are worthless without the motivation of love behind them. I will scatter some practical idea posts in, too, but I really hope to inspire you to build your hearts, as moms, instead of just your heads. When love is flowing, the other things naturally flow out.
I am participating in a wonderful small group for the summer with some of my beloved friends (Hi ladies!). We are reading together the book, The Mom Walk by Sally Clarkson. As in any of Sally’s writing, it is obvious to me that she is a woman who embraces motherhood.
At our meeting this week, we discussed taking joy in the little things — things that we mostly take for granted as mundane — offering them to God for His glory. I recently finished reading The Shack. In the book, the central character, Mack, comes to the realization that if anything matters then everything matters. If it matters to God one time when I snuggle a child I would prefer to yell at, then every little thing I do matters.
I find that in my life, neither guilt nor the drudgery of duty motivates me for long and it is certainly not what our loving Heavenly Father wants from us, either. He tells us that His yoke is easy and His burden is light! We could make a big list of all the things we should do better and try really hard to do them, but we will certainly find ourselves failing. God’s plan is really much simpler. He only asks us to stick close to Him. Because of this we learn to love like He does a little more each day. Our outward behaviour (the fruits of the Spirit) will flow naturally from this relationship.
One of the most natural and significant learning opportunities for learning to love happens when we become mothers. Do you remember the moment you first realized the depth of love for your first baby? For me, that desperate mother/baby bond seems to come several hours after our babies are born when the hustle and bustle of the birth is over and baby and I are tucked away together. With our first baby, I was absolutely astonished at the depth of those feelings. At that moment, I knew I would do anything for this new little person.
In a discussion with a dear friend of mine, we realized that many women seem to hold back when expressing this love. She said it appeared they were afraid to really embrace motherhood to which I readily agreed. Later I pondered her statement. Why would anyone be afraid to embrace motherhood — one of the most fulfilling love relationships on earth? I don’t know, but I have some ideas. I would love you to share your thoughts with me, too.
Maybe women are afraid that if they lavish love on their children outwardly to the extent they love them inwardly, their children will become self-centred and spoiled. Also, even though we generally attribute it to men, I think that many women hold back from loving to their heart’s content for fear of appearing (or actually becoming) weak — losing control, losing perspective and losing authority.
The trouble with all of these worries is that, while understandable, they are completely false beliefs. True love never does any of these things. In fact, holding back from outwardly loving our children ends up accomplishing many of these things itself. Children who feel unloved and insignificant become self-centred and spoiled, as they need to look after themselves. We have discussed how respect for our authority is actually increased with our children when we show our children love outwardly. And, sadly, the best way to be weak and lose perspective is to continually fight against the plans of our dear Lord. After all, it is His idea that we love with abandon.
We are told that, with respect to motherhood, it is okay to express disappointment, frustration and discouragement. Indeed, it is okay. We will certainly have those feelings as mothers and sometimes we just need to get them off our chest. However, we certainly have plenty of complaining in this world and while an occasional complaint is not a big deal, a stream of them will only hurt us and those around us.
I think that what we really need to be told is that it is okay to express joy, happiness and love, too! What we really need on this earth are more mothers who are not afraid to say, “I just can’t get enough of my baby!” or “When I found my six year old sleeping curled up on the floor of my room this morning, my heart poured out with love for her,” or “My teen is just so perceptive. She said today…” Can you imagine if more moms in your life talked like this?
When we give ourselves permission first, to think this way and, second, to voice these thoughts it can’t help but cultivate calm in our lives. It will happen automatically and that’s what the Lord means when He says His yoke is easy and His burden light. When I am allowing myself to see the Lord to pointing out to me my own love for my children, I find my heart contented and my perspective clear.
Let’s not hold back today — let’s let ourselves go and love our children recklessly.