I was late heading out the door last night to go for tea with a friend, because I had to go apologize to Anika before I felt right about leaving. I went to find her, and said, “I’m sorry for losing my temper before.” She made a funny face and said, “I’m sorry for being a pain!” We laughed and hugged, and all was right with the world.
But I hate messing up. I really, really want to be a good mom. I want to be self-controlled, slow to anger, and always gentle with my words. But annoying stuff happens, or my introverted self gets overstimulated, and there’s just a lot of everything going on, and I’m not very good at being cool, calm, and collected. I have to apologize to my kids a lot.
I tried choosing a word for the year – have you gotten on that bandwagon? I normally resist trends like that, but someone on Facebook presented the idea in a way that made it sound appealing even to me, and I already had a word which had been popping up a bunch anyway. It was a natural choice – everything I came across had to do with the word “abide”.
So I claimed it for my own, and since last January, I’ve focused on abiding. I get up each morning while the house is still dark and quiet, to read my Bible, pray, and practice this whole abiding thing. I’ve been reading that as we abide, and soak in God’s presence, He changes our hearts. Abiding in Him is what changes us.
This is beautiful and true, but I was missing something very important. I kept thinking that if I could just abide and soak enough every morning, I’d start to see changes throughout the day. I’d eventually see growth and more of the Spirit, which would also mean I’d be a better mom – the kind who has fruit of the Spirit growing all over the place. I was excited by this idea.
But the other morning, as I was praying, I was basically begging Jesus to change me quick – preferably before Everett woke up, because then my quiet time would be over, so we had a bit of a time crunch. I wanted God to fill me up to the brim, quickly in the morning, so I could avoid all those messy moments throughout the day.
And right in the middle of that thought, it was as though Jesus spoke to me and said, “I want you to abide all day, not just in the morning. Abide in me, in the middle of the mess.”
Which I already knew, but somehow forgot! (Why does that happen?!) And it took until October to have this thought dawn on me! I think “abide” may need to be my word for next year, too, because apparently I’ve got a lot of work left to do! I’ve been on Level One until now, and it’s time to take things up a notch – get this abiding happening the rest of the day, too!
It is in the middle of the frustration and annoyances and overwhelm that I need to abide, not just in the peaceful early morning, when it’s easy to focus and think very spiritual thoughts. I’m being sanctified in the process of being a mom and sharing life with these little people. They see me all day long, and there’s no hiding my weak areas, and the ugly stuff that still needs work.
I don’t like that. I want to be a perfectly beautiful, shining example for them to follow, but instead they see me mess up, clean it up, and try again. I read once that children don’t need perfect parents – they need parents who are being sanctified right before their eyes. I hope this is true, because it’s the only way this is going to work! I might be able to hide some imperfections from other people, but I can’t hide them from my family.
And so I keep practicing the presence of Jesus, keep abiding, keep apologizing, keep being sanctified. It’s real and vulnerable, and my sweet kids are so quick to forgive, it’s very beautiful.